Q&A with Kunin

Q&A with Kunin

Anna Liccione

Madeleine Kunin

Former Governor Madeleine Kunin spoke to a group of students, faculty and community members on Tuesday, Mar. 5. Kunin was invited to campus by Director of Academic Support Services and head of the Women’s Center Karen Madden to discuss her new book, “The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family.” Kunin was the first woman governor of Vermont, but she also was the first woman in the U.S. to serve three gubernatorial terms. She served as Deputy Secretary of Education from 1993 through 1996 and Ambassador to Switzerland from 1996 to 1999.

What is your biggest piece of advice for young women today?
Well, To speak up, to participate. Even if it’s in class. Learn to speak out and use your voice. And stick to your beliefs, stick to your values. Because often you’re told as a student well, ‘You’re too naive. The world doesn’t work that way.’ But, consider part of your education to be a good citizen. Go to Town Meeting to vote to learn about issues you care about. The door is wide open today, it really is totally open.

What is your most treasured possession?
This is a ring my mother that my father gave to my mother. This is the ring my husband gave me. So, I guess those.

If someone were to play you in a movie of your life, who would play you?
Ahhh. I would love Meryl Streep.

What’s your greatest fear?
These are tough questions. (Laughs) I guess as you get older you fear different things than when you are younger. When you get older, you fear that you lose your capacity, both mentally and physically. But that doesn’t happen all the time.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Ahhh, Guilty, I don’t think it’s guilty.  I wouldn’t use guilty. Maybe it’s just doing nothing. Being out at the lake. Or, enjoying a sunset, but I’m not sure I feel guilty about it, you know. But something tugs at you and says you should do something else.

Now, if you could go back in time, where would you go and why?
The suffragist movement. I would’ve liked to be involved in that.

In the past 20-25 years what do you think the biggest accomplishment is between maintaining work/family balance?
Well, I think that the education of women. Women are really prepared to be in the workforce. They have the skills. But as I said in my talk, we have a long way to go.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
That I’ve had a chance to have an influence on decision-making. That has been a great privilege. If I was specific, It would be Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund and Dr Dynasaur.

What living person do you admire most and why?
Right now I just finished Sonia Sotomayor’s book, her biography, and I admire where she camre from and what she became

If you were to describe your ideal dream dinner party who would you invite?
(Laughs loudly) Shakespeare, Living or dead? (Yup, anybody). Joan of Arc, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Disraili. He’s a playwright and a politician and also Jewish, maybe Golda Meir.

You said you just finished Sotomayor’s book, well what are you reading now?
I just started Katherine Boo’s book about the Slums of India, “Behind the Beautiful Forever.”