Louise McCarren: bringing focus to the Campaign for Vermont

June-1-CT-CP-Louise-McCarren-USEBy Phyl Newbeck

Louise McCarren is happy to be back in Vermont full-time after eight years of commuting to Utah. McCarren has served on many boards in her life, but her newest venture is chairing the Board of Directors of Campaign for Vermont. She helps to create a new governance structure for the board and facilitates the organization’s growth.

She describes Campaign for Vermont as “a non-partisan effort to focus on some fundamental issues that will affect the state’s prosperity.” Those issues include education, health, energy, and transparency in government. “The purpose of the organization,” she says, “is to provide a voice and forum for people to discuss the issues in a rational, non-personal way.”

McCarren has a long history of civic service within and outside the state. After working as a legal services lawyer, she ran a New England energy project with a focus on helping low-income people deal with rising fuel costs. Following a stint in private practice during which she was involved in several utility cases, she was asked by Governor Snelling to chair the Public Service Board, becoming the first woman to hold the title. McCarren subsequently worked for Chittenden Bank, returned to private practice, and after an unsuccessful run for Lieutenant Governor in 1990 was recruited by Verizon. That job entailed a good deal of commuting, and when it became clear that part of that commute would involve Dallas, she left the company and was named chair of the board of Fletcher Allen Health Care. Her tenure there included some turbulent times, so when a recruiter offered her a job as chief executive officer of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, she decided to head out to Salt Lake City. She is proud of the work she did in Utah, overseeing four major start-ups in eight years while maintaining her home in Vermont.

McCarren has served on a number of boards including the Champlain Valley Chamber of Commerce, Vermont Public Television, and the Vermont Business Roundtable. She was a member of the Vermont Technology Council, the Governor’s Commission on Energy Siting, and the Vermont Telecommunication Authority Board. While all of this conjures up the image of a desk-bound woman, nothing could be further from the truth. In her spare time, McCarren plays tennis and ice hockey. She enjoys wilderness canoeing and has competed in a 90-mile canoe race in the Adirondacks at least ten times. Her son once talked her into joining him on a four-day, 165-mile canoe race in Belize where the more desolate stretches were accompanied by a chorus of howler monkeys.

McCarren has lived in Charlotte for 37 years and in the house that she and her husband, a former state representative, built for 35 years. She loves to garden and currently has a crop of 150 peonies. “We live in a spectacular place,” she said. “I do a bunch of volunteer work that gives me pleasure. I’m very fortunate.”