Alumni News, Awards and Honors

Kaiya Kirk '20 Receives Young Women in Leadership Award at Inaugural Women In Leadership Luncheon

The Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Berkshire Bank, presented the inaugural Women In Leadership Luncheon at the Wilson House in Dorset, Vermont on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.

Ahmad Yassier '20, Laura Walker, and Kaiya Kirk '20 at Awards Luncheon

Eighty ticket holders enjoyed an afternoon rich with networking, conversations, lunch, awards and celebration. 

Presented at the conclusion of the luncheon the Chamber and Berkshire Bank handed out four awards, notably the Young Woman in Leadership award, given to a young woman between the ages of 21 and 40 for outstanding leadership and service and who is seen by her peers as a woman on the rise. This award went to Kaiya Kirk ‘20 of couch and cork, the Better Bennington Corporation and the Bennington Bookshop. Matt Harrington, executive director of the Chamber added, “Having studied Theatre and Black Studies at Bennington College and graduating in 2020, she chose to stay in Bennington and we are so lucky, as a community, that she did. One nominator said this about her: she is a force for positive change and an example of leadership, service and citizenry; is energetic, enthusiastic, and compassionate.” 

Bennington College President Laura Walker provided the keynote address. President Walker, who prior to Bennington College spearheaded the transformation of NYPR from two city-owned local stations to the nation’s largest independent non-profit public radio station group, regaled the attendees with stories about NPR, big bird, her mother and being a woman leader in a competitive New York City environment.

“After the last few weeks we’ve all been through, although we didn’t plan it this way, I think this was a perfect time to celebrate the power of women in our lives.” said Harrington about the event. “This event was about celebrating the many great women of the region and the sacrifices for career, family and community they have all made. It’s time we celebrate the amazing women in our region and the wealth of knowledge, talent and insight they bring to our businesses and organizations. Our mission at the Chamber is to promote, lead and advocate a unified effort, on behalf of our members. I think that has to include the marginalized, under-represented and minority-based members too.  We were excited to bring the region’s best of the best together today; a day full of sun, celebrations and new connections."