Anne Lezak is about to step aside as chair of the Vermont Democratic Party after a very consequential year-plus on the job. She’s doing so of her own free will, in order to carry on with her work in Uganda. She and her husband Dr. Harry Chen, currently interim commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, spent a year in Uganda in 2017. He helped establish the country’s first residency in emergency medicine, and she worked for Hospice Africa Uganda, one of the continent’s leading training centers and providers of palliative care.
Lezak recently became chair of the board of HAU’s American arm, Hospice Africa USA. She and Chen have been aiming to return to Uganda for some time, and they plan to do so in early March. They will leave their current positions by the end of February. “We are both returning to beloved organizations we were working with,” Lezak said. “It was amazing. It was life-changing.”
Still, she wouldn’t leave the VDP if she wasn’t certain that it was “in very good hands.” She pointed to numerous accomplishments: a historically successful 2022 campaign season, the building of a strong and cohesive party staff, and party vice chair David Glidden, “a great partner throughout,” whom she has endorsed as her successor. That will be decided at a state committee meeting in late February. Lezak calls Glidden “the future of the Vermont Democratic Party in every good way.”
Lezak has full confidence in the party’s executive director Jim Dandeneau. “Hiring Jim was my one stroke of genius,” she said. “He’s laser focused on building a stable staff and party structure.” She also praised party treasurer Deb Berryere as a force in clarifying, simplifying, and organizing the party’s fundraising and expenditures.
All this could be dismissed as the stuff you say when you’re on the way out, but the party’s track record bears out her words. The VDP is much stronger by every metric than it was in late 2021 — and is running laps around the Vermont Republican Party organizaitonally and financially. It says here that Lezak was the best VDP chair in years. She has improved the organization in just about every way.
“It would be fun to run things when we’re able to look ahead and plan for an exciting future,” she said, but the call of Uganda is too strong to ignore. At their ages, she noted, “If we didn’t go back now, when will we be able to?”
This is off topic but this is the 2nd best VT politics article I’ve read today. The best and the one that got the most laughs was the Times Argus piece about Burlington parking at the court house drama. Oh I see Mike Donahue did it. Familiar name. Hope everyone saw it, shows how human we all are even if not always in a good way.