Martha Jane Beattie Kitchel

Jane Kitchel
Jane Kitchel

Time Period

1940 to Today

Notable Facts

First woman to serve as senator from Caledonia-Orange district. Deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Social Welfare in Kunin administration, commissioner of the Department of Social Welfare, and secretary of the Vermont Agency of Human Services in the Dean administration

Personal Information

Date of Birth


Primary Residence




Historical Significance

Jane Kitchel is a Democratic state senator from Danville, Vermont, representing the Caledonia-Orange district. Kitchel worked in Vermont state government for 35 years, serving as deputy commissioner of the Department of Social Welfare under Madeleine Kunin, and social welfare commissioner and secretary of the Agency of Human Services in the Dean administration.

Jane Beattie Kitchel was born in 1945 and grew up on a dairy farm in Danville, Vermont in a 5th generation farming family. Her mother, Catherine Beattie, served in the Vermont Legislature from 1963 to 1964. Kitchel attended Danville High School, and graduated from Wilson College in 1967. Kitchel became involved in politics at an early age, volunteering for Philip Hoff's campaign in the 1960s. She also volunteered for John F. Kennedy's campaign and attended his inauguration.

In 1967, Kitchel began working for the state Department of Social Welfare as a social worker in the St. Johnsbury district office. By 1979, Kitchel was overseeing operations at six district social welfare offices. In 1985, Kitchel was named deputy commissioner of the Department of Social Welfare by Governor Madeleine Kunin. Kitchel was part of a unique group in Vermont's first woman-led administration, among an unusually large number of woman appointees, many of who held positions for the first time. As commissioner, Kitchel architected a state wide welfare system that invested in human capital and families mostly comprised of women. In addition, she was at the forefront of reimagining Vermont's health assistance programs for low-income Vermonters: her efforts helped bring the Vermont Health Access Plan and Dr. Dynasaur to fruition.

In 1992, Governor Howard Dean appointed Kitchel commissioner of the Department of Social Welfare. She became secretary of Vermont's largest agency, the Agency of Human Services, in 1999. Kitchel resigned from state agencies in 2002, after 35 years.

In 2004, Kitchel ran for state senate in the Caledonia-Orange district. She became the first woman, and the first Democrat in nearly twenty years, to represent Caledonia-Orange in the senate. Kitchel was re-elected in 2006 and currently serves as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, a vice-chair of the Committee on Transportation. Kitchel is also a Corporator for the Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, the Vermont Justice for Children Task Force, and the Boards of the Vermont Foodbank, Bradford's Enhanced Living Inc., Northeast Regional Community High School of Vermont, and the Northeastern Vermont Area Health Education Center.

Organizations or Movements

  • Kunin administration
  • Dean administration
  • Vermont state senate


  • Vermont State senator
  • social worker
  • deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Social Welfare
  • commissioner of the Department of Social Welfare
  • secretary of the Vermont Agency of Human Services


  • Danville High School, Wilson College

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • "Social Welfare Dept commissioner named," Burlington Free Press, 7/8/92, 3b:3.

  • "Kitchel named to Welfare Post," Rutland Herald, 5/15/85, 8:1.

  • Kitchel for Senate Link