First elected in November 2018, Kathleen James is a Democrat who serves as Assistant Majority Leader of the House Democratic Caucus and ranking member of the House General and Housing Committee. She’s also a member of the House Rules, Joint Rules and Joint Legislative Management Committees.
Committed to working across the aisle, James has been accepted to several prestigious bipartisan leadership training programs, including the Council of State Governments Eastern Leadership Academy (2021) and the National Conference of State Legislatures Emerging Legislative Leaders program (2022). In 2022, she attended the State Legislative Leaders Foundation Emerging Leaders program and was named a Toll Fellow by CSG.
During her first two terms (2018-2022), James served on the Education Committee. In May 2019, James was named to the House-Senate conference committee that delivered the final compromise version of S.40, successful legislation to get the lead out of drinking water in our schools and childcare centers.
In March 2019, she was appointed by then-Speaker Mitzi Johnson to serve on the board of delegates and legislative advisory council (LAC) of the New England Board of Higher Education. She stepped down from the NEBHE board in 2019, but continues to serve on the LAC.
In June 2020, she was named to the Select Committee on the Future of Public Higher Education in Vermont, charged with addressing the urgent needs of the Vermont State Colleges and developing a plan for high-quality, affordable and workforce-connected public higher education in the state. In June 2021, she was appointed to the Task Force on the Implementation of the Pupil Weighting Factors Report, a summer workgroup focused on our education funding system.
Kathleen has also been active in several caucuses. In the statehouse, caucuses provide an important opportunity to work across party lines on shared priorities, deepening policy expertise and relationships with colleagues from across the state. For two terms, she served on the leadership team of the Vermont Legislative Climate Solutions Caucus and in 2019 won the Vermont Conservation Voter’s Rising Star Award with two other legislators. She’s also a member of the Rural Caucus and a founding member of the Social Equity Caucus.
In November 2019, Kath organized a public forum to inform local residents about the tools and resources available to local communities through H.513, the Rural Broadband Act. This meeting led directly to the formation of the Southern Vermont Communications Union District, which was approved by voters at 12 towns across Bennington County on Town Meeting Day in March 2020. The SoVT CUD was named one of 12 Vital Projects for the Southern Vermont economy for its efforts to bring high-speed broadband to the county’s underserved roads and regions (see article).
Like many legislators, Kath balances serving her community with other work. She’s currently the communications director for the nonprofit Kenya Drylands Education Fund, and until January 2021 served as editor of Skiing History, a bimonthly magazine about the history of the sport. Until her 2018 election to the General Assembly, she also served as the full-time executive director of the nonprofit International Skiing History Association. She started with ISHA and Skiing History in 2010.
Born in Chicago and raised in Nebraska, Kathleen earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She worked as a Capitol Hill reporter for Roll Call, a reporter-researcher for TIME, and a senior editor for Snow Country before settling in Manchester, Vermont in 1996. She has since worked as director of admissions at Southern Vermont College, editor-in-chief of Vermont Magazine, and communications director at The BOMA Project.
Kathleen serves on the board of the Wilson House and previously served on the boards of Emerge Vermont, Manchester Elementary Middle School (MEMS), Zion Preschool and the Northshire Community Foundation. She was an early board member of Friends of MEMS, which raised money for enrichment programs that went above and beyond the taxpayer-funded budget. She also served as a board member of the Manchester School Fund.
Kathleen is former vice chair of the Town of Manchester Democrats and a Class of 2018 graduate of Emerge Vermont, a statewide nonprofit that trains women Democrats to run for public office.
Kathleen’s wife, Alexandra Heintz, is the chief patient safety officer at Southwestern Vermont Health Care. Her adult children live in Chicago and New York City; both graduated from MEMS and Burr and Burton Academy. She is an avid cross-country skier and founder of the women’s vocal group SoFar.
To read articles and op-eds, click here.
Paid for by Kathleen James for State Representative | Alexandra Heintz, Treasurer
P.O. Box 1044 | Manchester Center VT 05255