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Our history has been shaped from its inception by gutsy women committed to the notion that women’s choices about work should be their own—and not the product of cultural stereotypes or attitudes.

Their leadership and passion set in motion nearly thirty years of effort to advance opportunities for women and girls—and it continues to inspire and animate our work.


The first Step Up program was offered in 1985 in St. Johnsbury through funding from the Vermont Department of Education.
14 women were admitted into the first 13-week Step Up program, run by Ronnie Sandler, where they were exposed to hands-on training in technical skills, strength and fitness conditioning, workshops focused on building self-esteem and employability skills, and instruction in labor law and employee rights.


Northern New England Tradeswomen (NNETW) is founded in St. Johnsbury by Ronnie Sandler
First Annual Tradeswomen's Conference launched

Northern New England Tradeswomen Inc. logo


Step Up program expands, serving women in White River Junction (and nearby New Hampshire)


Women and Minorities in Highway Construction launched through a partnership with the Vermont Agency of Transportation, continuing through 2000 Step Up curriculum published and sold nationally


Women Build program launched as a practical extension of Step Up and was VWW's first paid, on-the-job trades training program.

The Supreme Court rules that sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal
Janet Reno becomes the first female Attorney General of the United States
Family and Medical Leave Act passed


Ruth Durkee hired as NNETW's second Executive Director


NNETW opens a second office in Barre
Step Up spreads to Rutland, continuing there until 2002
Collaboration initiated with Vermont Energy Investment Corporation to offer efficiency training as a part of Step Up


Madeleine Albright becomes the first female Secretary of State

Tiffany Bluemle hired as NNETW's third Executive Director

The Supreme Court rules that equal number of men and women must participate in sports for schools to receive Title IX funds

Instructor looks on as participant uses tool


Women Can Do conference for high school girls launches
First Gender Equity conference offered by NNETW for Vermont educators


Rosie's Girls Logo, 2000

Rosie's Girls launches at the Center for Technology, Essex
Rosie's Girls curriculum is licensed


Rosie's Girls is first replicated in Santa Monica, CA
Partnership launched with Center for Technology, Essex to increase nontraditional student enrollment
Step Up piloted at Dale Correctional Facility in Waterbury; launches NNETW’s commitment to vocational programs for incarcerated women
Offices in Barre and Rutland consolidated and moved to Essex Junction


Step IT Up, an Information Technology Course, offered at the Dale Correctional Facility


VWW chairs Commissioner’s Advisory Committee on Women Offenders to make recommendations on policy and practice affecting women in prison Vermont Women’s Mentoring program for women in prison launched


Condoleezza Rice serves as the first female African American Secretary of State

Step Up to Law Enforcement launched as a pre-academy training program in law enforcement
Modular Home Building (known as “Mod Home”) program launched at Windsor prison
Rosie’s Girls is offered in Barre


Gender Equity work begins at Randolph Technical Center
VWW helps found Chittenden Workforce Solutions, a group with representation from nonprofits and state agencies dedicated to workforce development

Vermont Works for Women Logo, 2007


Nancy Pelosi becomes the first female Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

NNETW became Vermont Works for Women
Northern Lights House opens, and VWW provides employment support to residents


Transitional Jobs program launched
VWW becomes a United Way agency, receiving support for the Transitional Jobs program in Chittenden County
VWW research published in Women and Girls in Criminal Justice. The report affirmed the need for a new kind of employment support for women coming out of prison.


Energy Works! and Chef Works! Summer youth employment programs piloted.
Step Up to Green Carpentry launched.
FRESH Energy launched, a paid, on-the-job training program in weatherization and renewable energy installation

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is the first bill signed into law by President Obama. The law helps protect those who face pay discrimination.
Sonia Sotomayor becomes the first Hispanic American, man or woman, to serve on the Supreme Court


VWW joins Vermont Green coalition and becomes a resource for women eager to break into a green field

Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director for her film The Hurt Locker


girls move mountains logo

VWW’s social enterprise FRESH Food launched
Step Up to Green Electrical and Plumbing launched in partnership with the UA Local 693 (Plumbers & Pipefitters) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical
Workers Unions and the Vermont Department of Labor
Girls Move Mountains joined with Vermont Works for Women, expanding our girls’ programming to include Dirt Divas and Rock and Adventure
Mod Home program suspended


Vermont Works for Women 25 Years

VWW celebrates 25 years!
Lead In, an internship preparation program for high school girls is launched in partnership with Navicate
Janes of All Trades launches in Lamoille County
Launched new workshop for educators, coaches, youth workers and parents: Strategies to Transform Peer Aggression Among Girls, hosted in Burlington, Montpelier, Randolph, Rutland and Brattleboro


Enough Said in orange speech bubble

The “ENOUGH SAID- Young Women Talk about School, Work and Becoming Adults: Why We Should Listen and What We Can Do” report is released


Rosie’s Girls secured media coverage of Rosie’s Girls program in the NY Times, NBC’s Today Show, and a national camping magazine, and goes viral on social media, with coverage by Amy Poehler and A Mighty Girl Facebook pages


Change the Story, Advancing Women Powering the EconomyTiff Bluemle leaves VWW after 17 years of leadership to head up Change The Story
VWW is a founding partner of Change the Story with the Vermont Women’s Fund and Vermont Commission on Women
Angela Wells named Interim Executive Director, leading the organization through programmatic deep-dives


Step In to Work, a holistic work-readiness system, is piloted
New one-week model of Rosie’s Girls piloted in Essex and Barre

Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman nominated for President of the United States by a major political party


Partnership with Salvation Farms piloted to provide hands-on training to women in light manufacturing and food handling
VWW offers Tech@Work and Career Challenge Days at Burlington Technical Center for high school and middle school girls
Jen Oldham named Executive Director


VWW awarded US Department of Labor grant to support women in apprenticeships and non-traditional jobs
20th Anniversary of Rosie’s Girls and Women Can Do!
Step In to Work expands to Franklin County

#MeToo movement galvanizes next wave of social change for women


Trailblazers: Women in Construction Trades program graduates 44 womenVermont Works for Women Trailblazers
Gender Equity work expands with Business Peer Exchange piloted in Franklin County with Change the Story
Realities of Reentry program created at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility
Rosie’s Girls Afterschool program launched
Rhoni Basden joins VWW as Executive Director


Volunteer Career Mentor Network is created to connect more Vermont women to employment and career coaching and support.