The Vermont Afghan Alliance today announced the hiring of former Vermont Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray as executive director of the non-profit. Gray will serve in an interim role for the time being, working to grow the Alliance’s capacity in meeting the needs of Afghans resettled in Vermont.
The Vermont Afghan Alliance (VAA), a 501(c)3 and registered Vermont non-profit, was formally launched in April 2022 by Co-Founder and Board President Wazir Hashimi and Co-Founder and Board Vice President Dan Barkhuff with the sole mission of assisting Afghans in obtaining access to basic services and successfully resettling in the Green Mountain State. Today, the VAA’s signature offerings include a driving program, support with employment access and translation, and the hosting of cultural events and celebrations.
“Lt. Governor Gray has served as an advisor to the Vermont Afghan Alliance since its founding and has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to assisting and supporting Afghans arriving in Vermont,” said Co-Founder and Board President Wazir Hashimi. “Her experience and skills are unparalleled and we’re fortunate to have her serve as the Alliance’s first executive director.”
“As a veteran, I believe we owe it to those who believed in American promises to welcome them with open arms as fellow Vermonters,” said Co-Founder and Board Vice-President Dan Barkhuff. “I know Lt. Governor Gray shares this sense of responsibility as a lifelong Vermonter and as someone who has first hand experience working with those impacted by conflict and in promoting human rights.”
Previously, Gray served as the 82nd Lieutenant Governor of Vermont, completing her term in January 2023. From 2018 to 2020, she served as a Vermont Assistant Attorney General while also teaching international human rights law as an adjunct professor at Vermont Law and Graduate School.
Before that, Gray worked in Geneva, Switzerland for the International Code of Conduct Association, an international initiative aimed at overseeing the compliance of security contractors with human rights. Gray launched the Association’s human rights monitoring program and led monitoring missions in East Africa, Nigeria and Iraq.
Gray also previously worked in Washington, D.C. for the International Committee of the Red Cross where she managed relations with Congress and led field missions in Haiti, Uganda, Georgia, the Western Balkans and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Gray began her career as an aide to U.S. Representative, now Senator, Peter Welch (D-VT).
Gray holds an LL.M in International Law from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, a J.D. from Vermont Law School, and a B.A. from the University of Vermont. After graduating law school Gray served as a law clerk to the Honorable Peter W. Hall on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
“With more than 300 Afghans now resettled in Vermont, and more arriving, needs remain acute and diverse from access to transportation and housing to translation and legal services,” said Gray. “I am pleased to be able to bring my legal, policy, management, and public service experience to bear for our newest Vermonters and, in coordination with community, state and federal partners, grow the capacity of the Alliance to ensure Afghans resettled here can truly thrive.”
Gray was born and raised on her families’ vegetable and dairy farm in South Newbury, Vermont. Today, she resides in Burlington with her husband, Republic Airways Captain Michael Palm.
Source: Vermount Business