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Staff and Commissioners

Staff Members

Big Hartman (they/them) - Executive Director & General Counsel
Direct Line: 802-828-2490
Big Hartman Big joined the HRC in September of 2021. They bring to the Commission eighteen years of experience as an attorney in Vermont. After graduating from Vermont Law School magna cum laude in 2005, Hartman worked at a Stowe law firm representing Workers’ Compensation claimants and personal injury plaintiffs. From 2007-2013, Hartman was in-house counsel at the Vermont State Employees’ Association, representing the union and its members in cases before the Vermont Labor Relations Board and in Vermont courts. Before joining the HRC, Hartman operated a solo law practice called Welcoming Workplaces that was focused on preventing workplace harassment through workplace trainings and management consultations. In 2019, Welcoming Workplaces contracted with the Vermont Commission on Women to compile resources and develop online content for the VCW’s workplace harassment prevention website ( Along with their broad experience as an attorney assisting both managers and employees, Hartman brings years of training and knowledge regarding equity and inclusion work. Over the years, Hartman has also served as a Board member for non-profit organizations, including the Vermont Association for Justice, the Washington County Bar Association, and the Circle of Women International. 

Maia Hanron (she/her) - Executive Staff Assistant
Direct Line: 802-828-1625
Maia Hanron joined the Vermont Human Rights Commission in January 2023. She most recently worked with United Way of Northwest Vermont’s Working Bridges Program, where she assisted working Vermonters at their workplaces, help identify and utilize resources around housing, healthcare, access to legal resources, transportation, and more. Previously, she worked as an Operations Specialist in the Vermont Center for Children, Youth, and Families and as Reach Up Case Manager for the State of Vermont. Maia holds a BA in English from the University of Maine, Orono, and a MA in Education from Castleton University.  

Cassandra Burdyshaw (she/her) - Staff Attorney and Investigator
Direct Line: 802-828-2482
Cassie Burdyshaw joined the Vermont Human Rights Commission in 2018. She received her B.A. from the University of California, San Diego in 2005 and her J.D. from Vermont Law School in 2012. Cassie previously practiced in the areas of family law, government benefits and landlord/tenant law, representing indigent clients and victims of domestic violence at a legal aid organization. She worked as a policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union, where her work focused on reducing the school to prison pipeline and preventing a variety of discriminatory bills from becoming law. She was also policy director at an environmental non-profit, where her work included issues at the intersection of environmental resource extraction and human rights. 

Daniel Flynjac (he/him) - Staff Attorney and Investigator
Direct Line: 802-828-2494
Daniel joined the Vermont Human Rights Commission in June 2022. Daniel was born and raised in Vermont, and attended the University of Vermont where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Psychology, with Honors, and graduated as a Vermont Scholar and member of the John Dewey Honors Program in 2007. He earned his Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School in Albany, NY in 2011. Daniel volunteered with Vermont Legal Aid until he joined a private practice in upstate New York in 2012. From 2012 to 2017 Daniel practiced law in the areas of civil rights, employment law, family law, and joined the Attorneys for the Child program in Family Court. Daniel’s primary focus was representing plaintiffs in cases involving discrimination and retaliation. In 2017 Daniel returned to Vermont where he worked for the Vermont Judiciary as a Family Court case manager, assisting parties navigate the court system and negotiate settlements. In 2018 Daniel joined the Vermont Bar.

Kelly Poupore (she/her) - Staff Attorney and Investigator
Direct Line: (802) 522-3415
Kelly Poupore joined the Vermont Human Rights Commission in September 2023. She received her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 2009 and her J.D. from Seton Hall Law School in 2014. Kelly’s prior experience includes several years as an Assistant Attorney for the Department of Social Services, an Assistant District Attorney and later Chief Assistant District Attorney in Franklin County, New York. She has litigated hundreds of cases; from child welfare matters and juvenile delinquency proceedings to domestic violence and murder cases. Kelly moved to Vermont and was admitted to the Vermont Bar in 2023, working first as a Deputy State’s Attorney before joining the Human Rights Commission. She brings her years of experience in the child welfare and criminal justice system, her passion for public service, and her dedication to justice for all.

Mitch Rotbert (he/him) - Senior Counsel 
Direct Line: (802) 261-7389
Mitch joined the Vermont Human Rights Commission in October 2023 after a long career in private practice. Born and raised in New York, Mitch received his A.B. in English and American History from Columbia University (1982) and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center (1988). Mitch is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer, having tried and argued numerous cases in federal and state courts around the country. Mitch became a member of the Vermont Bar in August 2023.

Amanda Lucía Garcés (she/her) - Director of Policy, Education and Outreach
Direct Line: 802-828-2580
Amanda Lucía Garcés joined the Vermont Human Rights Commission in December 2019. Prior to joining us, she was a consultant and speaker committed to education equity and human rights. Amanda moved to Vermont in 2017 and founded the Vermont Coalition for Ethnic and Social Equity in Schools, bringing together people from various racial and ethnic groups, disability rights and LGBTQIA+ advocates. The Coalition was a leader in drafting language and working with legislators and other stakeholders to pass Act 1, relating to the ethnic studies and social equity working group. Amanda comes to Vermont via New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Arizona where she worked in organizing around immigrant rights, border issues and against the proliferation of private prisons. A proud Colombian immigrant, Amanda believes in the power of narrative; while in Los Angeles, she co-founded the World Summit Award-winning Mobile Voices Project, an open source storytelling platform for day laborers and household workers to tell their own stories from their cell phones. Her most inspiring and thoughtful teachers have been the immigrant workers with whom she spent the past decades organizing.

Commission Members

Kevin "Coach" Christie, of Hartford, was appointed to the Vermont Human Rights Commission on March 1, 2018, to fill a term that expired on February 28, 2018.  Mr. Christie was appointed by Governor Scott to serve as Chair of the Vermont Human Rights Commission.   Mr. Christie attended parochial schools through high school, receiving a BA from Eastern CT State University in 1972. He moved to Quechee, VT in 1973 to open an automotive business. He is married to Mary C. Christie and they have two daughters, Amber and Angela. Mr. Christie started coaching track at Hartford High School in 1980 and then started coaching football and teaching at Hartford Technical Career Center in 1986, receiving his MEd in Ed. Admin/Supervision in 1990. He was named Vermont Technical Education Teacher of the Year in 1992. In 1994 he became the Technical Center Director/Principal at Randolph Technical Career Center in Randolph, VT in 2001. He began his Doctoral Degree in Ed. Admin. and is almost completed. Mr. Christie additionally was an automotive Service Director and then Theraputic Case Manager for youth in foster care for six years. He has served on the Vermont Human Rights Commission, Boys & Girls Club, Vocal Soloist, VT Special Olympics Ed. Advisor, Correctional Facility Chair, VT Reghab Advisory Council, VT Symphony Chorus, Nat. Rep. AVA Resolutions Comm., and Hartford Housing Authority. In addition Mr. Christie holds certificatiions in: Principal, K-12, Superintendent, Technical Center Director, Auto Tech Teacher, NOCTO, ASE. He is a notary public, has served on the Hartford School Board since 2007 and was the Chair.

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 Vermont Human Rights Commission formerly held by its chair, now Judge Thomas Zonay.  Mr. Besio, who resides in Colchester with his wife Gretchen, has been re-appointed three times, most recently in 2017 to a full term that expires in 2022.  He has over ten years of business and accounting experience, primarily in the non-profit industry.  He is 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.

Dawn M. Ellis, of Burlington, was appointed to the Vermont Human Rights Commission on May 15, 2015. Ms. Ellis is the President of Dawn M. Ellis & Associates, LLC and has worked for over twenty years to enhance communities by consulting in the areas of education and social services; community, economic and leadership development; access and inclusion; corrections and social justice; innovation and virtual learning; as well as creativity, culture and recreation. Her work empowers people and affects policy across the U.S. and abroad. As the former Executive Director of VSA Vermont, the state organization on arts and disability, Ms. Ellis built partnerships that continue today to increase access and include people with disabilities and from disadvantaged groups in the broader community.

Joan Berwick Nagy, of Cambridge, moved to Vermont from Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1990. Joan's career path included a stint as an attorney, and many years in development as a grant seeker and grant maker. In Ann Arbor, she worked for Spaulding for Children, an adoption agency for older and disabled children and was the Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Area Foundation. She worked for many years in early literacy programs at The Vermont Center for the Book, ending her working years with six years as a Cambridge Town Lister. She has served on the Board of Copley Hospital, Vermont Water Resources Board, and is serving on the Board of Deacons of the 2nd Congregational UCC in Jeffersonville and the Board of Lamoille Home Health and Hospice.

Bruce Wilson, of Winooski, was appointed to the Vermont Human Rights Commission in April 2022. Mr. Wilson was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and attended Northwestern University. He has lived in Vermont since 1989 and has worked as a youth service provider and community activist. Mr. Wilson is the Executive Director of both Service Rendered Inc/Arts So Wonderful and New National Media Corp. He is a founding member of Community Justice Center, and he sits on the Green Mountain Transit Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Board, the Winooski School District Anti-Racial Board, the Inclusive Arts Vermont Board, and the Fight for Kids Foundation Board. Mr. Wilson is a member of the Vermont State Police Fair and Impartial Policing Committee, a member of the Essex Rotary Club, and is the Winooski Democratic Party Chairman. Mr. Wilson opened Chill Out Centers in every large mall in Vermont and opened Arts So Wonderful Gallery in University Mall.