Local AAUW chapter honors Woman of the Year

BRATTLEBORO — Elisabeth V. “Betsy” Swift of Brattleboro was honored recently by the Brattleboro Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) for her professional and volunteer accomplishments.

Swift received the branch's Woman of the Year designation for her early advocacy of education for women, her efforts during World War II, and her volunteer service in her adopted hometown.

A native of New York, Swift resisted her family's efforts to send her to a private girls' high school, electing to come to Vermont to attend the Putney School in its early years. The next step was a earning a bachelor's degree in government in 1945 from Radcliffe College, where women were expected to sit in the rear rows of the lecture halls so they did not distract the Harvard students.

During the war, Swift served as a Red Cross driver in Manhattan, driving goods and people all over the city. By the end of the war, she was in government service in war-ravaged Eastern Europe, and her career continued both abroad and in Washington, D.C. During her Washington stay, she was able to volunteer in the orchid rooms of the Smithsonian.

After retiring, Swift moved to Vermont, where she had vacationed previously, settling in Brattleboro and immersing herself in her new community.

She has served on the boards of the Brattleboro Music Center, Brattleboro Area Hospice, and the Windham World Affairs Council, and has been a long-time supporter of the Marlboro Music Festival, Putney School alumni, and St. Michael's Episcopal Church, where she has been a member of the vestry, altar guild and officer of Episcopal Church Women.

She has also volunteered as a guardian ad litem for vulnerable youth in the area.

“She has done this with grace and humor, and we are pleased to honor her,” said last year's honoree, Cynthia Terzariol.

“This remarkable woman has spent her life breaking ground for all women who have encountered gender-based obstacles and discrimination in education, employment, civic, and political life,” Terzariol added.

Founded in 1881, AAUW promotes education and equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. Information is about the Brattleboro branch is available by contacting Vivian Prunier at [email protected] or 802-387-5875.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates