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Community Forum

On July 1, 2021, VPR and Vermont PBS merged to create a unified public media organization, and in June 2022, we relaunched as Vermont Public. We believe that together, we'll be able to better serve the evolving needs of our community.

The next couple of years will be a journey of discovery as we explore the myriad ways this new organization can serve our community with trusted journalism, quality entertainment, and essential educational programming that is accessible and inclusive to all. Our Community Forum will play a pivotal role in helping our new organization reach these goals.

About the Community Forum

The Vermont Public Community Forum is a volunteer group of 20-40 community members that provides input to the organization about its programming and service. Members of the Forum are an important link between Vermont Public and their community and represent different professions, geographic regions, individual needs and interests of the communities that the organization serves. The Forum reflects as broadly as possible the demographic, geographic, cultural, economic and social diversity of our region.

The Community Forum is an advisory body and is not involved in daily management or operations. During meetings, the Community Forum members learn about public media, meet staff members, and have regular communication with the organization about programming and service. They’ll have the opportunity to discuss the goals of public media with other members of the Forum. Members also serve as ambassadors for strong public media service within their communities.

The Community Forum is governed by a steering committee who are responsible for guiding the organization and structure of the Forum. The steering committee is made up of two members of the Vermont Public Board of Directors, two members of previous Community Forums, and one member of the organization’s management.

The Community Forum Steering Committee is comprised of:

  • Emerald Drake, member of former Vermont PBS Community Forum
  • Stephen D’Agostino, member of former VPR Community Forum
  • Dennise Casey, Vermont Public Board Member of Directors Vice President
  • Molly Lambert, Vermont Public Board Of Directors Secretary
  • Kari Anderson, Vermont Public Director of Audience Insights and Radio Programming

Community Forum FAQ

Are there any requirements for people who are interested in becoming Community Forum members?
The requirements for becoming a member of the Community Forum are centered around a person’s commitment to actively and constructively engaging with the discussions at meetings. There will be assignments offered for non-meeting times (such as viewing/listening to programs before a meeting), however they will be optional. Any person interested in applying to be on the Forum who has a need for meetings and work to include language, hearing or visual support, or any other support that would improve their group experience, should please make note of those support needs in their application. It is likely that a good portion of discussion and activity will take place online, at least during the initial year, however Vermont Public is committed to ensuring that the Community Forum is an inclusive experience and that we create equity of access.

What can members of the Community Forum anticipate to give and get during their service as a Forum volunteer?
Community Forum members should expect to engage in open, candid, and thoughtful discussion about how Vermont Public's programming is or could be serving them. They will participate in a variety of listening/viewing activities, and do their best to give feedback that supports the organization to offer service that best meets the various needs and interests of their communities. Vermont Public will actively seek and listen to the Forum’s feedback for the purpose of influencing the organization’s programming decisions, and the facilitation of the Forum will value diversity, inclusion and equity as a foundation for the Forum’s meeting and engagement practices.

What is the logistical commitment that a Community Forum member has to make?
Each Community Forum member will be making a commitment to fully engage with the meetings during their 3-year term. During their first year, there will be at least two meetings to attend. Additional meetings may be added, as time and resources allow, and with the encouragement and support of the Forum members and steering committee. At this time, due to COVID-19 public safety concerns for large in-person groups, the organization anticipates that the first meeting of the Community Forum will be an online experience. The organization is prepared to be responsive to changing circumstances such that as safety concerns can be properly mitigated for everybody involved, there will be opportunities, but not requirements, for in-person meetings.

How much influence does the Community Forum have?
As an advisory body, the Community Forum has an important impact on our programming and service. Members regularly take part in focus groups that help shape our programming. Feedback from the Community Forum regularly makes its way into programming changes and additions to our services. The Community Forum is not involved in daily management or operations of Vermont Public.

Why do you ask people to apply to be a part of the Community Forum?
We typically get a large volume of applicants wishing to be a part of the Community Forum, but its charter allows only 20-40 members per term. We use an application process to help ensure a diverse group of people from our region are included in the Forum so that Vermont’s public media can reflect the communities we serve.

Are Community Forum meetings open to the public?
Yes! Community Forum meetings are open to the public and we welcome your attendance. Because there are public health and safety protocols that are relevant for planning meetings at this time, dates and locations for the group are to be determined. We are working to be responsive to a variety of needs, and to ensure that we can plan the most engaging yet safe meetings possible. All notices of meetings will be published on this page.

What other input and criteria are used to make Vermont Public's programming decisions?
We are constantly monitoring our program schedules to make sure we are serving our community as best we can. In addition to the insight we receive from the Community Forum, Vermont Public makes programming decisions based on a number of factors: they need to fit our strategic plan and budget, and we take market factors, audience research and audience feedback into consideration. We also keep an eye on what our public media colleagues around the country are doing, and what is working for them.

Other questions? Get in touch!