Billi Gosh

Time Period

1940 to Today

Notable Facts

First Vermonter to serve as vice-chair in National Women's Political Caucus, Chair of Appointments Task Force, and Governor's Commission on Women in Madeleine Kunin's administration

Personal Information

Date of Birth

10/22/1936

Primary Residence

Brookfield

Ethnicity

Caucasian

Historical Significance

Billi Gosh was the first Vermont woman to become vice-chairwoman of the National Woman's Political Caucus, and also served as chair of the Vermont Governor's Commission on Women in Governor Madeleine Kunin's administration.

Billi Gosh grew up in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. She holds a BA from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania in French and English, and a Masters degree in education from Queens College in New York City. She taught in schools in Pennsylvania and New York City, before relocating to Vermont in the early 1970s, when she became active in Vermont politics.

Gosh participated in revitalizing the Vermont chapter of the National Women's Political Caucus in 1979, and served as it's chairwoman from 1982 to 1985. A non-partisan organization, the Women's Political Caucus's goal is to get more women elected to political positions of leadership.

In July 1985, Gosh became one of five vice-chairwomen of the National Women's Political Caucus. She was the first and only Vermonter to hold a vice-chair post in the 77,000 member organization. Gosh served as part of a six member executive committee, and focused on organizing rural women. Gosh also worked as development director at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Woodstock for 16 years.

In 1985, Governor Madeleine Kunin appointed Gosh to the Governor's Commission on Women. A member of the advisory council and executive committee, Gosh became chair of the Appointments Task Force. The Task Force sought to expand the talent bank of Vermont women to be appointed to boards and commissions. Gosh edited the first edition of the VCW publication, "Getting Appointed to Vermont Boards and Commissions", which is still an important resource for women today.

Vermont's first woman-led administration was a unique group, with a large number of woman appointees, many of who were the first women to hold their positions. In 1986, 5 of 8 people in Kunin's inner staff were women. Kunin had appointed women to 15 of 33 agency and department head positions, and to 169 of the 433 positions on commissions and boards. Many state boards, including the Vermont Industrial Development Authority, Vermont Labor Relations Board, the Vermont Veteran's Home in Bennington, Transportation Board, and Judicial Nominating Board, were all male until the Kunin administration. The Governor's Commission on the Status of Women under Madeleine Kunin, succeeded in significantly increasing the representation of women in state government positions. In 1969, only 14% of board and commission appointees were women, in 1979, there were 22%, and in the Kunin administration in 1986, 39% of appointees were women.

In July 1987, Governor Madeleine Kunin appointed Gosh chair of the Governor's Commission on Women. As chair, she focused on initiatives for educational equality, economic development, and domestic violence support for women. She also expanded the commission's role as a research agency and information clearing house.

In 1992, Gosh helped organize a march to support President Bill Clinton, titled "Women Light the Way for Change." Gosh was the founding chair of the Vermont Women's Fund Council. She received the first Classic Woman award in 2005 from the national magazine Traditional Home for her work spearheading the formation of the Vermont Women's Fund. In 2001 she founded the Vermont State Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She was a Superdelegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, supporting Hillary Clinton. She has served on the Democratic National Committee since 2004, and was appointed to the Credentials Committee by the DNC chair.

Gosh is Vice Chair of the board of Burlington City Arts. She also is Fundraising Chair for the restoration of the 160-year-old Brookfield Town Hall.

For 16 years Gosh served on the board of BlueCross BlueShield Vermont, chairing the Executive Committee and the Governance Committee.

Gosh lives in Brookfield with her husband, Bobby. They have two grown children and 3 grandchildren.

Organizations or Movements

  • Kunin administration
  • National Women's Political Caucus
  • Governor's Commission on Women
  • Vermont Women's Fund Council
  • Vermont State Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • Superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination

Occupations

  • Chairwoman, Governor's Commission on Women
  • Development director, Vermont Institute of Natural Science
  • Chairwoman, Appointments Task Force
  • Chairwoman, Vermont Women's Political Caucus
  • Vice-chair, National Woman's Political Caucus

Education

  • BA, Albright College, MA in education, Queens College

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • "State Woman Wins National Caucus Position," Burlington Free Press, 7/3/1985, 1B:1.

  • "Gosh Named to Commission," Rutland Herald, 5/9/1985, 14:4.

  • "Kunin is Appointing More Women to Posts in State Government," Rutland Herald, 5/11/86, 1:2.

  • "Gosh to Head Women's Panel," Rutland Herald, 7/28/1987, 1:1.

  • "Keep the Women's Commission," Burlington Free Press, 2/23/1988, 12A:3.

  • "VT Women Hold March to Support Clinton," Burlington Free Press, 10/29/1992, 4A:2.

  • Oh, Gosh! From hit songs to presidential politics, a Vermont power couple share it all Link

Additional Images

Bobby and Billi Gosh at their home.  Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur, Seven Days.
Bobby and Billi Gosh at their home. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur, Seven Days.
Billi Gosh, 2011. Courtesy of Seven Days.
Billi Gosh, 2011. Courtesy of Seven Days.