Contact Us



Vermont Human Rights Commission
14-16 Baldwin Street
Montpelier, VT 05633-6301
800-416-2010 (voice)
802-828-2481 (fax)
877-294-9200 (TTY)


Karen Richards - Executive Director
Direct line: 802-828-2482;
Karen L. Richards joined the Vermont Human Rights Commission (HRC) as the Executive Director on March 18, 2013. She oversees all operations of the HRC and acts as its legal counsel. Prior to her appointment to this position, Karen was the Poverty Law Project Director at Vermont Legal Aid, Inc. (VLA) for fourteen years (1998-2013). During part of her tenure at VLA, she supervised the organization’s fair housing grants.  Prior to assuming her position at VLA, she was legal counsel to the Vermont Department (now Agency) of Education from 1993-1998, where she specialized in disability-related issues and investigated school harassment cases with the HRC.  As a staff attorney at Connecticut Legal Services from 1983-1993, Karen’s areas of expertise included housing and special education.  Prior to leaving CLS, she started a fair housing unit.  Karen was admitted to the practice of law in 1982 in Connecticut and in 1993 in Vermont.  She is also admitted to the U.S. District Court of Vermont.  Ohio University (B.A. 1979); University of Connecticut School of Law (J.D. 1982). 
Tamar Cole - Case Manager
Nelson Campbell - Administrative Law Examiner
Direct line: 802-828-2490;
Nelson Campbell joined the HRC in 2010. She primarily investigates allegations of discrimination in state employment and alleged violations of Vermont's public accommodation statute. She also provides sexual harassment training throughout the state. Nelson received her B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an M.S.L. from Vermont Law School. In 1998, she graduated from the University of Tennessee School of Law and was admitted to the Maryland Bar. She practiced in Baltimore City and Cecil County, Maryland before moving to Vermont. She is a member of the Vermont Bar. 
Paul Erlbaum - Case Manager
Ellen Maxon - Administrative Law Examiner
Direct line: 802-828-2494;
Ellen Maxon joined the HRC in 2006. She completed her J.D. and her M.S.W. in Wisconsin. Ellen's primary focus is housing discrimination, although she also investigates accessibility cases and some employment complaints.  Ellen has completed HUD’s five-week National Fair Housing Training Academy.  She provides fair housing training to numerous groups including attorneys, housing authorities, landlords, tenants and other non-profit housing providers.
Katherine Spence - Administrative Law Examiner
Direct line: (802) 828-2493;
Kate Spence joined the HRC in 2014 after having practiced for 13 years with both Kentucky and Vermont Legal Aid organizations primarily in the areas of housing, domestic violence, and disability.  In addition, Kate spent two years in private practice, and taught Legal Writing and Appellate Advocacy at Vermont Law School.  Kate received her B.A. from Barnard College and her J.D from Northeastern University School of Law.  She investigates complaints in the areas of public accommodations, housing and employment.  



MARY C. MARZEC was appointed to the Human Rights Commission on March 12, 2008, to fill a term that expired on February 28, 2013.  Ms. Marzec was appointed by Governor Douglas to serve as Chair of the Human Rights Commission in December 2010.  She was reappointed by Governor Shumlin to a second term in 2013.  Ms. Marzec is employed by Green Mountain Power Corporation at the Energy Innovation Center. Prior to that, she served as the Assistant Corporate Secretary at Central Vermont Public Service Corporation from 1999 to June 2012. Ms. Marzec received her Master of Science in Law at Woodbury College in 2009 and received her B.A. from the College of St. Joseph in 1996. She also completed the Four-Year Law Office Study Program in 1997. She has also served on the Pittsford and Whiting School Boards.  She resides in Pittsford with her husband, Larry.

NATHAN BESIO of Colchester, a person with a disability who uses a wheelchair, was appointed effective May 16, 2007 to fill the slot on the Commission formerly held by its chair, now Judge Thomas Zonay.  Mr. Besio, who resides in Colchester with his wife Gretchen, has been re-appointed twice, most recently in 2012 to a full term that expires in 2017.  He has over ten years of business and accounting experience, primarily in the non-profit industry.  He recently became a peer advocate at the Vermont Center for Independent Living (VCIL).Mr. Besio is very active in the disability rights community and is a member of several disability rights organizations.  Mr. Besio received a B.A. in Psychology from St. Michael’s College in 2000 and an M.B.A. from State University of New York at Albany in 2002.

MARY BRODSKY of Essex was appointed on December 2, 2010 to fill Senator Benning’s term which expired on February 28, 2014. She was re-appointed to a second five-year term by Governor Shumlin in March 2014.  Ms. Brodsky began her career in the Federal government with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, where she worked in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs and the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity.  She is currently a Branch Chief with the Employee Relations Division of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. A committed community leader who has served on several boards, she resides in Essex with her husband, Brendan Kinney, and their three children. Ms. Brodsky received a B.A. from St. Michael's College.

MERCEDES MACK of Burlington received her B.A. from St. Michael’s College. After completing her degree, she worked in Washington D.C. as the National Field Organizer for Jubilee USA Network, a non-profit that aims to cancel the debts of Global South countries for poverty reduction programs. Ms. Mack also graduated from Midwest Academy’s “Organizing for Social Change” in 2008 and the Vermont Workers Center Solidarity School in 2010. She is the 2010 winner of the Peace and Justice Center's Young Activist Award.  She was appointed to the Commission by Governor Shumlin effective February 22, 2011 to a term that expires on February 28, 2015.  Growing up in Burlington, Vermont as a woman of color has formed Ms. Mack into an emerging young leader on isues of social justice and community care.

DONALD R. VICKERS of Georgia was appointed to the Commission on February 15, 2008 to a term that expired on February 28, 2011.  He was re-appointed to a new five-year term that expires in 2016.  Mr. Vickers recently retired from the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) where he played a major role in the development of the program for the past 42 years and served as VSAC’s president and CEO from 1988 until his retirement.  Prior to his employment with VSAC, Mr. Vickers served as Director of Financial Aid and Placement at Johnson State College.  Mr. Vickers is active in a number of regional and national higher education organizations. He served previously for 12 years as chair and member of the Essex Town School Board and is a presently a Justice of the Peace in the Town of Georgia.

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