Montpelier, VT — Vermont Conservation Voters (VCV) is pleased to announce this year’s VCV Lifetime Achievement Award winner: former State Representative Mary Sullivan of Burlington, Vermont, who retired in 2020. The VCV Lifetime Achievement Award is presented bi-annually to a Vermonter with an impressive legacy of championing policies that further environmental protection in Vermont.

“Mary Sullivan has dedicated her whole self—as a legislator, mother, wife, friend, civic partner, and democracy-defender—to innumerable good causes,” said Johanna Miller, Energy and Climate Program Director at the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VCV’s partner organization), who presented Sullivan with the award at a recent event. 

“An unabashed, unwavering advocate for climate action, Mary put forward the kinds of solutions necessary to tackle the scale of the challenges we face,” added Miller. “She never gave up. She never wavered. And she certainly never cowed to what was politically ‘possible.’ Instead, she worked in service of what was planetarily essential.”

Award winner Mary Sullivan noted, “I was so pleased to be honored by my friends and fellow environmentalists. I might be retired from the Legislature but will never retire from caring passionately about these issues. This award was a true honor.” 

In her time as a legislator, Sullivan advocated for a strong, equitable price on carbon pollution; weatherization investments, especially those serving the state’s most vulnerable residents; smart growth policies and programs to enhance our downtowns; a plastic bag ban and toxic pollution reform; and much more. In one of her very last votes as a Representative, Sullivan voted in support of critical climate accountability legislation, the Global Warming Solutions Act, which is now enacted and will require a deep focus of State government on climate action. 

Sullivan spent much of her professional career in the communications field, including nearly 15 years at Burlington Electric Department, before serving twice in the Vermont House of Representatives, representing Burlington. In her first stint in the Legislature, starting in the early 1990s, Sullivan served as Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, championing numerous environmental protection measures and serving as an ardent defender of Vermont’s landmark land use and development law, Act 250. 

When Sullivan assumed office once again in 2015, she served on the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, the House Transportation Committee, and as co-Chair of the Vermont Legislative Climate Solutions Caucus for three years. Sullivan most recently served as the Vice Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife, and on the Joint Energy Committee.

“Mary worked tirelessly as a legislator to ensure Vermonters have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, healthy, walkable communities with housing choices that serve all people, and a climate-friendly economy to take us into the future,” said Lauren Hierl, Executive Director of Vermont Conservation Voters. “We commend her legacy and are pleased to honor her with the VCV Lifetime Achievement Award.”

This year’s VCV Lifetime Achievement Award was presented at the 2021 Environmental Common Agenda reception, held virtually on February 3rd, where VCV revealed its guide to this year’s top legislative priorities for the environment. You can find the 2021 Common Agenda here.