Vermont Business Magazine David Hallquist, CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative is Transgender. Ten years ago he started a journey with his family and friends to educate and inform them of his true identity. At the Vermont Electric Coop, David and the employees have prided themselves on being honest and transparent. David feels responsible to share his journey with the greater Vermont community and the nation.
WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-WCAX-TV story September 10, 2015
“Growing up in the early 1960s, coming out as Transgender in a rural town felt impossible,” said Hallquist. “I learned that for my own physical survival I had to keep this part of me a secret. What I used to experience as a burden I now recognize as a gift. Being Transgender has helped me recognize and be more compassionate toward those who are marginalized.”
Over the years, David worked with his family and friends to help them understand, and share in his life. It has been a very difficult struggle. Yet throughout it all, the Hallquist family has worked hard and supported each other: through education, counseling, and faith-based dialogue. His son, Derek, with the support of the family, even incorporated this struggle in a documentary following David’s journey as CEO reinventing our electric grid.
Recently, David came out to his business community as Christine. She was met with an overwhelming outpouring of support that moved her. “The joy I have felt as a result of the extraordinary support I received has been tremendous. I never dreamed that my family, my friends and business colleagues would be so considerate and caring,” said Hallquist. In a statement, the VEC Board of Directors articulated their unshakeable confidence in David’s continued leadership, “Vermont Electric Cooperative has a long history of supporting their employees in the ways that matter most—helping them to be happy and healthy and to support them in living their lives fully and honestly. Dave has been, and continues to be, an outstanding leader and VEC is lucky and proud to have Dave in that role. We support Dave in every way we can. ”
David Hallquist in 2011. VBM file photo.
In addition to his own Board, Hallquist also serves on the Board of the state electric transmission utility Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO). Board Chairman Larry Reilly noted the embrace and spontaneous round of applause for David following his eloquent and moving remarks to the VELCO board in August, “David’s powerful testimonial was an inspiration. Going forward, we will continue to count on benefitting from Christine’s candid and informed perspective.”
“When Christine came to speak with us at the Pride Center of Vermont, we wanted to help in any way we could,” said executive director Kim Fountain. “We were very fortunate that not only did Christine want to engage our Transgender Community Program, but also wanted to use her coming out experience as a way to bring more attention to the struggles of Transgender Vermonters.”
Finally, after being made aware of the situation, Governor Shumlin also offered his support, "Christine's decision to share this incredibly personal story publicly must not have been easy, but doing so will benefit many Vermonters, especially those who are transgender themselves. It's through the courage of people like Christine that acceptance and understanding are built. I want to thank her for taking this step."
Hallquists at Derek's graduation. Courtesy photo.
While slowly coming to terms with her true identity, Christine has learned a lot about herself, her family and her community. “As positive as my experience has been, I know that is not the norm…even here in Vermont. I want to do what I can to hopefully change this reality so that everyone can live full and authentic lives.”
Christine will be in this year’s Vermont pride parade and festival with Family, friends and colleagues on Sunday, September 13th. She hopes that you will walk with her or cheer for Pride from the sidelines. “Even as my journey continues, I encourage my fellow Vermonters to join me and many others and take advantage of this opportunity to demonstrate our support, acceptance and encouragement for those experiencing these types of struggles.”
For more information,
Transgender lives: The National Center for Transgender Equality, http://transequality.org
The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, http://www.transgenderlegal.org