After nearly six years at the helm of the Vermont Progressive Party, Morgan Daybell is departing. Daybell has served as executive director — the party’s only paid position — since March 2007, but his involvement with the party dates back to 1999. This makes him the longest-serving director since the party’s inception.
Daybell is stepping down to become business manager for the school supervisory union in Montgomery. He previously sat on the Montgomery Elementary School board of directors.
“It was the right time to leave in a lot of respects and I was excited to leave before I got tired of it,” Daybell said.
Burnout is common for political organizers, according to both Daybell and Martha Abbott, chairwoman of the party. The executive director is charged with handling day-to-day organizational, financial and political operations. The job posting on the party’s website outlines a lengthy list of responsibilities — ensuring campaign finance compliance, fundraising, recruiting candidates and party members, maintaining a voter ID database, handling communications, managing relations with the Legislature, and overseeing the party’s re-organization post election.
Current Progressive leader Chris Pearson, who himself served a several year as executive director, starting when the party coalesced in 1999, called Morgan a “steadfast leader,” but added that the vacancy “is an opportunity.” Pearson also said he thought the position could be tweaked a bit in the future.
“I’d like more focus on issue-organizing. … I think there is a great need for a louder voice organizing in communities on the issues that matter to progressive-minded people.” Pearson also noted that the role has been constrained by the long list of administrative duties.
Abbott, however, doesn’t foresee radical changes. She says it will be “more of the same going forward.”
Under Daybell’s tenure, the party gained acceptance as a major party and “sharpened the focus on running for state Senate and state House seats.” He “works in a very behind-the-scenes way, so you don’t really realize how much he has been getting done,” said Abbott.
Daybell, who informed the party of his departure last summer, said he stuck around until November because he “wanted to see this crop of candidates through the election.” He isn’t severing ties with the party — Daybell says he plans to stay involved with state Senate and House campaigns in his area and will still dabble in statewide party work as well.
The search for a new executive director is under way, though no deadline for the hire has been set.