Meet Rebecca

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Rebecca Holcombe is a former teacher, principal and Vermont secretary of education — an educator who has focused her life’s work on creating equal opportunity for every child and every person in the state of Vermont. As governor, she would work to create a Vermont that works for every Vermonter and expands opportunity to every corner of the state.

Most recently, Holcombe served as Vermont’s secretary of education for four years, after being appointed by both Gov. Shumlin and Gov. Scott, where she worked to address inequalities between those with wealth and those without wealth in our communities. In her first year, Holcombe received national attention for challenging the harmful nature of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. In response, Holcombe and her team worked with school districts and used input from 2,500 stakeholders from every county to develop a nationally recognized school review process that embraced a Vermont vision of quality and equity. Holcombe and her team also worked to identify high-growth, high-wage, high-demand economic sectors like health care, advanced manufacturing and green construction and laid the groundwork for career pathways that would help Vermont students leave school with advanced credits and industry-recognized credentials that qualified them for good-paying jobs.

Holcombe resigned her position as secretary of education when she came to recognize that Gov. Scott’s agenda was only making inequality in the state worse by pushing for a statewide voucher program that would take millions from our public schools and funnel it to private schools that mostly serve privileged families.

Prior to serving as secretary of education, Holcombe worked as the director of Dartmouth University’s Teacher Education program from 2011-2014 and taught a course in education politics and policy. Prior to that, she worked as a teacher, elementary principal and district leader in public schools. During her time in the classroom and leading schools, Holcombe learned about the strong connection between education, opportunity and long-term success of our communities. Holcombe saw that when we invest in our students and families, especially those who face the greatest adversity, we give our people the tools they need to seize opportunities and become contributing members of their communities.

Holcombe is deeply involved in the community around her. Holcombe serves as a trustee at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, which enhanced her understanding of the challenges rural hospitals face as they confront changing demographics and find innovative ways to keep the communities around them healthier. She has worked with local schools to assist them with online surveys and presentations to better evaluate and implement necessary growth practices. In her free time, Holcombe enjoys taking advantage of all Vermont has to offer recreationally, including spending time with her family and local groups, skiing, biking, trail running, volunteering to staff ski races and hunting for the perfect raspberry. She is also a co-owner of a small inn in the Northeast Kingdom.

Holcombe grew up in Afghanistan, the Fiji Islands, Pakistan and Sudan due to her parents’ careers in economic development. She spent her formative years witnessing how communities are healthier when they create opportunity and elevate the talent of its people. Holcombe went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Brown University, an MBA from Simmons School of Management, and her Doctorate of Education Leadership, Policy and Practice from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. She completed coursework for her principal certification at Lyndon State College. Holcombe and her husband, James, have been married for 27 years and have two children, Johanna and Daniel. The family lives in Norwich.