Hazel Brewster

Hazel Brewster sits outside at Cafe on Main on a cool April day. The 25-year-old Stowe resident was just appointed to the Vermont Commission on Women.

Hazel Brewster’s resume would be impressive for anyone, let alone someone yet to turn 25.

Born in Copley Hospital, raised first in Elmore then Morristown and now a resident of Stowe, Brewster has worked in the offices of three different Vermont politicians, two before she even received her undergraduate degree.

While pursuing a degree in political science at the University of Vermont, she interned with both Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s office and his reelection campaign, with Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England — and even the Scottish Parliament — all between stints with Little Bellas, a women’s mountain biking organization with an emphasis on mentorship.

Though she had planned to get a graduate degree in public policy on the other side of the continent at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, the pandemic struck, stranding her in Vermont.

Instead of putting on her sweatpants and binging Netflix shows, Brewster jumped on as a staffer with Democratic Lt. Gov. Molly Gray’s successful election campaign and then continued to work with her office, rising to the position of chief of staff before leaving the job to become the Vermont Chamber of Commerce’s public relations director and finishing her graduate studies remotely.

Brewster has been able to work on both sides of the aisle successfully because her political aspirations are Vermont focused and not purely career driven.

“I wouldn’t say politics was my passion,” she said. “I think if they were, I would have moved to (Washington,) D.C. by now. I think the reason I love politics here so much is because of how much I love Vermont, and the people I’ve worked for have been true Vermonters.”

Sitting for an interview outside of Café on Main in Stowe, Brewster wore the uniform of any other young Vermonter: a tan and cream Patagonia fleece with black leggings and matching — but not too matching — suede Chelsea boots and white-painted fingernails, a silver ring on nearly every finger.

With sharp, aquamarine eyes set in a frame of blonde hair, there’s a certain uncommon poise with which Brewster carries herself, noticeable enough that when she stood from her table in front of the café, a stranger asked if she was a model.

Despite her magnetism and experience and despite her youth, Brewster has no immediate plans to run for office, a fact that doesn’t surprise her father, Jamie Brewster, in the least.

“She has a vision of how she likes to be involved,” he said. “She’s not looking to be the face of things. She likes to be involved and make a difference, but she does like to do that in the background.”

Hazel came of age in the long era of Democratic President Barack Obama but was entering adulthood when Republican President Donald Trump surprised and worried many when he won the White House, an election she cites as a defining moment in her political life.

“As a young woman, it was a scary time in this country, but also an energizing and motivating time,” she said. “I think one of the craziest days in my life to this day was the Women’s March on Montpelier, when I-89 shut down because they had so many cars going there. I remember being there with both my parents. My mom had knitted me one of the pink hats herself.”

Despite this moment and though Jamie has become more involved in Morristown politics in recent years, the Brewster household was not a partisan one, but one where volunteerism and community engagement was promoted more than party politics.

According to Hazel, she benefitted from both her parents’ support and their willingness to put her in a position to work with women who mentored her or men that believed in her full potential. Her parents’ commitment to fostering her enthusiasm for hockey ultimately netted her a scholarship to the New Hampshire private school Proctor Academy, an experience that nurtured her over-achieving attitude.

In April, Brewster was appointed by Scott to serve on the Vermont Commission on Women, a government agency that brings together accomplished women from across the state to advance rights and opportunities for women. She is among the youngest of the women serving on the commission.

“I’m really proud to represent the younger generation of Vermonters, those entering the professional field right now,” she said. “One thing I’ve been reminding people as of late is that, with the pandemic, I don’t have a ‘normal’ to return to in the professional world because I was still in school when it started. That’s true for an entire generation of Vermonters my age now entering the workforce.”

With her appointment, Scott recalled the innovative communications strategy Brewster brought to his campaign and her extraordinary work ethic.

“Hazel is hardworking, motivated and deeply committed to Vermont. There’s no doubt she will continue to excel in the future,” he said.

In reflecting on Brewster’s appointment, Gray reflected on her former employee’s unique commitment to staying and working in Vermont.

“At a time when we see so many young people deciding to leave the state, Hazel’s decision to stay is an example of what Vermont needs right now. Her voice in helping to solve Vermont’s demographic crisis and in ensuring our policies and priorities reflect the needs of young women across Vermont is deeply important to the future of the state,” said Gray, who is running for Vermont’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

And it’s the future of Vermont that concerns Brewster, sports and accessibility for young girls, in particular.

“We have a lot of Vermont kids, Vermont girls, who have made big sacrifices throughout the pandemic. Their childhoods are completely changed,” Brewster said. “I think my focus on the commission on women is to dig down and figure out what they need to recover from the pandemic. Sports have been integral in my life. I think that’s where I found a lot of power as a young woman.”

While voters may not see her on a ballot anytime soon, those following successful campaigns and political organizations closely may see her name come up in the future, but for now, Brewster might be most easily found on her mountain bike on the trails at Cady Hill.

“I’ve lived a lot of life over the last five years,” she said. “I’m looking forward to settling here in Stowe while riding my bike more often.”

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