Local News

Powering forward: Ted Brady of Vermont League of Cities and Towns

By Liz DiMarco Weinmann

What most people notice when they meet Ted Brady, especially on Zoom, are his open-hearted smile and generous laugh, plus his unwavering focus on listening intently before he comments or asks any questions.

Brady, 45, is coming up on two years as executive director of Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT), the 55-year-old nonprofit whose mission is to serve and strengthen Vermont local government. Influential stakeholders and young professionals alike speak highly of his leadership, but they also comment on how much they like him.

When asked about this in a recent interview, Brady replied, chuckling, “I believe that’s because, for the last 16 years of my career, I’ve been in positions where I could hand out a lot of money.”     

Brady projects his affability even toward those who comment about his tremendous presence. At 6 feet, 6 inches he easily could have played the high-scoring power forward position in basketball, a position that requires a talent for quick rebounds. In addition, Brady has the formidable build of a defensive end who could give an aging Super Bowl champion (no relation) a run for his millions.  

“Power forward” is an apt metaphor for Ted Brady’s two decades of career accomplishments — in management, media, business and municipal relations — and for his current mission as VLCT’s leader.

“My personal goal for the League,” Brady explained, “is to galvanize a group of people around an idea that’s bigger than the minutiae they have to deal with in their local municipalities, so that some sort of systemic change can happen for our state.” 

VLCT’s services benefit residents of Vermont’s 247 cities and towns, and include educational workshops and advice for municipal officials; support for legislation that strengthens local government; and comprehensive insurance coverage for municipalities.

In short, VLCT facilitates efficient and effective discussion, and action, about issues that are of concern to all Vermonters: affordable housing; technology accessibility; transit; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and the economic aftermath of Covid. 

Among these issues, the one that has generated the most attention over the past few years is housing.

“We survey our members annually on their priority issues and, for two years running, all we hear about is housing, housing, housing,” Brady said. “So the League works hard to help individual municipalities recognize the state-wide impact their local decisions have on housing,” he added.  

Echoing the sentiment of community development experts throughout Vermont, Brady asserts that Act 250, not local zoning, is the single largest impediment to building more homes in Vermont. (Act 250 was enacted by the state in 1970 to protect certain designated environmental, social and fiscal assets from overdevelopment.) 

“Today, housing developers frequently must pay two sets of permitting fees and legal fees,”  said Brady. “So, they face the uncertainty in appeals twice, even when they are proposing smart growth in areas where Vermonters want development.

“I’m trying to build a coalition that would be willing to relinquish some local control — that is, if the state also gives up some of its control on Act 250,” Brady added.

Brady and his team at VLCT have addressed these issues in the organization’s strategic plan, whose goals include strengthening the capacity of local government, attracting outstanding talent to the field, and championing diverse and resilient communities.

VLCT’s accomplishments under Brady’s leadership include helping communities plan, spend, and report on the more than $200 million in local ARPA funding that was directly distributed to Vermont municipalities. And, late last year, with the help of a grant from the Vermont Legislature and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, VLCT launched an initiative that will connect Vermont communities to approximately 400 federal programs.

“It’s important that Vermonters respect and appreciate their local government,” Brady urged.  “For example, in the Town of Killington, the people who plow the roads, staff the police, and send out the fire department, are essential resources, especially considering the prominence of the ski area. All of our communities need more capacity.”

A Rhode Island native, Brady graduated from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and journalism. Prior to joining VLCT in March 2021, he served for four years as deputy secretary for commerce and community development with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. His background includes chairing the Vermont Council on Rural Development for nearly six years. 

Brady met his wife, Erin, when he was deputy press secretary for former U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, from 2000 to 2013. 

As Ted Brady recalled, “Our offices were only 200 feet apart and we saw each other every day on the elevator. We got engaged in the Capitol Rotunda.”

Today Erin Brady serves as a member of the Vermont House of Representatives (D-Williston), where she is the lead sponsor of House Bill 165, which would require all public schools to provide breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge. The latter reflects Representative Brady’s experience and expertise in education: she also teaches at Colchester High School and serves on the Champlain Valley School District Board.

The couple has two sons and before anyone could ask about whether the Brady couple constantly “talk shop” at home, Ted Brady said: “We try not to talk politics at the dinner table.”  

When asked to provide a summation of his leadership style — in his work as well as in his personal interactions — Brady replied, “It’s really important to be kind, and be personable, and be genuine.”

One can conclude that’s the kind of power forward leadership style Ted Brady instills in his own children as well as his VLCT team. In this day and age, it’s no wonder other leaders speak so highly of him.  

More at: vlct.org. 

Liz DiMarco Weinmann, MBA, is principal and owner of Liz DiMarco Weinmann Consulting, L3C, based in Rutland, serving charitable and educational institutions: lizdimarcoweinmann.com.

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