Our Founders

Campaign for Vermont was founded in 2011 by a small group of community leaders. After listening to hundreds of Vermonters share their stories, Bruce and Tom felt it was necessary to form an organization that could speak for middle class Vermont.

Bruce Lisman, Shelburne

Lisman-Bruce.jpgBruce established Campaign for Vermont because he is optimistic about a vibrant and prosperous Vermont economy. He was born in the old North end and raised in Burlington. He attended Burlington High School before continuing on to graduate from the University of Vermont. Bruce’s self-made success began in New York’s financial district as a file clerk. He moved through the ranks to become Co-Head of Global Equities at Bear Stearns Companies, a position he held for twenty years. In 2009 he retired from JP Morgan Chase & Co as Chairman of their Global Equities Division. Bruce has been a staunch supporter and board member of many Vermont institutions, such as the Shelburne Museum, Vermont Symphony Orchestra, National Life, and Merchant Bancshares Corporation.

Over the years, Bruce has also served on the boards of Central Vermont Public Service, The Hewitt School, Pace University, University of Vermont (Chairman), the Smithsonian Libraries, HS Broadcasting, and BRUT Inc.. Bruce has been a lead supporter of the Boys and Girls Club’s Early Promise Program; believing in its transformational potential of Burlington’s young people. A long-time environmentalist, Bruce is currently involved in a joint effort with Preservation Trust of Vermont to replenish the tree canopy in Vermont’s communities and also served on the Board of the American Forests.

A strong supporter of higher education, and career retraining, in 1993 Bruce endowed a scholarship fund at UVM in the name of his father, Irving Lisman class of ’34. The scholarship is designed for non-traditional students seeking a career change, and focused on Vermonters. Most recently, Champlain College honored Bruce as the 2011 Champlain College Distinguished Citizen for his “long-time devotion to education and service to Vermont.” Today, Bruce is focused on efforts that support the economic security of Vermont’s families and future generations as a Founding Officer of Campaign for Vermont.

Tom Pelham, Berlin

Tom is a native of Arlington, VT and a vocal advocate for fiscal responsibility. He served as Commissioner of Housing in the Snelling Administration, Commissioner of Finance and Management under Governor Howard Dean in the 1990’s, and from 2003 to 2009 served as Tax Commissioner for Governor Jim Douglas. As Finance Commissioner, Tom oversaw the state budget as Vermont successfully emerged from the recession of 1991.

As Tax Commissioner, Tom worked successfully with Tax Department staff and the Legislature to bring more accountability to Vermont's tax credit program for business (Vermont Economic Progress Act), to transform Vermont's corporate tax system to "unitary combined", and increase Vermont's e-file rate for income taxes from 24% to 60%, all while reducing the size of the Department from 195 employees to 160.

In 2002, Tom was elected as an Independent to the Vermont House of Representatives, serving on the Appropriations Committee. Most recently Tom served until his retirement in 2011 as Vermont’s Deputy Secretary of Administration. He holds a B. A. from Tufts University and a Master's Degree from Harvard University.

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