Our roots, when all else is considered, are the DNA for our human makeup -- our core values, dreams and aspirations, decisions, and ultimately, the actions we take throughout our lives.
In short, our roots provide us all with a foundation from which we can grow, evolve, achieve, and, in some cases, give back to the very places that shape us. While some opt to ignore their origins, others choose to care for them.
Bruce Lisman is one who has appreciated, embraced and promoted his formative beginnings. Born and raised in Burlington’s Old North End, Bruce Lisman grew up in a family of four, the son of a clothing store owner-turned teacher, and a secretary. His first job was at age 15 as a dishwasher at the Copula Restaurant. He attended Burlington High School and also the University of Vermont. After graduating from UVM, he moved to New York City where he started his career as a file clerk, also holding down side jobs as a bartender and a taxi driver to make ends meet.
Over time, through hard work, commitment and dogged determination, Lisman eventually rose through the ranks to become co-head of global equities at Bear Stearns. He eventually retired in 2009 from JPMorgan, following its purchase of Bear Stearns.
After nearly 40 years in the finance industry, a successful career behind him and a world of possibilities in front of him, the self-made Lisman chose to return to his roots and help make Vermont a better place to live, work and raise a family.
He often says, "I never left Vermont. I might have worked in New York, but my family and friends have always been here." While Lisman’s heart has always been in the Green Mountain State, his physical relocation back to Vermont has since inspired him to embark on yet another journey -- one he believes will pay dividends for Vermonters, and his roots -- for years to come.
For nearly three years now, Lisman has made it his sole mission to support and grow the nonpartisan grassroots advocacy organization, Campaign for Vermont -- a broad-based coalition of Vermonters who share Bruce’s vision for a stronger, more economically sustainable Vermont.
As Bruce has often said, "Campaign for Vermont is a group of Vermonters who have put their differences aside and come together to help improve the state as a whole." Similar to the slow, steady and persistence-based rise of Bruce’s own career, CFV has gradually earned new partners, supporters and leaders since its inception. And it has done so by listening openly to Vermonters’ varying concerns and ideas, and promoting commonsense, practical solutions to some of the state’s greatest challenges.
In a sense, CFV’s evolution can be attributed to simple, old-fashioned Vermont thoughtfulness and teamwork -- made possible by the selflessness of its partners and leaders.
Today, CFV is the fastest-growing grassroots organization in the state with more than 1,100 partners and nearly 13,000 Facebook "followers." The organization is growing and positioning itself to influence definitive positive change for Vermont -- change that is already happening.
And while some misinformed cynics have stretched to discount and discolor both CFV and its founder, the group’s emergent membership of diverse Vermonters speaks for itself.
CFV is not about party politics or labeling who its members are -- a quick glance at our board and partner lists will show folks from across the political spectrum. It’s about Vermonters joining together to support the future prosperity of our beloved state. In other words, Vermonters protecting their roots, just like Bruce Lisman has.
As the new chair of CFV’s board of directors, I plan to help carry the organization’s young tradition of bringing Vermonters together to advocate for a future where all Vermonters can be economically secure and prosperous.
Louise McCarren of Charlotte is the new chair of Campaign for Vermont, taking over for departing chair Bruce Lisman.