Spotlight on Airon Shaw

Our member spotlight is on Airon Shaw, VT PoC’s Technical Assistance and Research Coordinator / Community Support Coordinator. She holds a Master’s Degree in Restorative Justice from Vermont Law and Graduate School and is currently pursuing an MBA with concentration in marketing at Rivier University. In addition to her work with VT PoC, Airon serves as the Executive Director for the Cohase Chamber of Commerce in the Upper Valley. In this spotlight, Airon reflects on her work with VT PoC.

Tell us a bit about your background before arriving in VT. 

I was born and raised in Alabama. I graduated from the University of North Alabama with a degree in Political Science. I lived in Illinois for a short period of time and left during the pandemic. I lived in Lyme, NH before moving across the bridge to East Thetford.

What do you enjoy about being a professional in VT? 

I love networking with other PoCs in VT.

What are some challenges that you’ve faced as a professional of color since living in VT? How have you worked to overcome the challenges?

The microaggressions. I don’t think it’s possible to really overcome microaggressions in VT but I’ve learned to ignore them.

Tell us about what you do in your position with VT PoC. What’s the work been like, how do you feel about it?

I am the Technical Assistance and Research Coordinator aka Community Support. I help with all things but I enjoy my job. It’s the first time I haven’t had to code switch and I’m able to be myself. The work has been amazing. I’ve met some incredible business owners that have become family. It’s always great helping people and being rewarded with food and love.

In what ways could your community or the state of VT support BIPOC businesses?

The state needs a BIPOC capital fund. Research has shown what BIPOC businesses need yet the state spends money on more research.

What advice would you have wanted to receive about being a VT professional of color before arriving?

Vermont really isn’t progressive so be ready for the fake woke folks.

What do you wish others knew about living in VT that you’ve discovered?

Depending on where you live in VT, heating oil is a thing and budget for it.

Why are you a member of the Vermont Professionals of Color Network?

Working for an organization that champions the often overlooked has always been important to me. My journey with VT PoC began when I first moved to this area and actively sought out Black organizations. Discovering VT PoC and subsequently finding a position on their website feels like a full-circle moment for me.

In my experience, many organizations, typically led by white individuals, believe that simply having a DEI statement suffices. But true impact requires more than just words. I cherish working with VT PoC because, for the first time, I am genuinely empowered to make a difference for my community. The learning journey has been immense, and the insights gained are invaluable.

What makes VT PoC uniquely special is our deep understanding of the challenges our community faces every day. Being part of an effort that actively seeks out resources to overcome these barriers is incredibly fulfilling. I am immensely grateful for an environment where I can be my authentic self without the need to code-switch and where my voice is always heard.

We’re more than just colleagues at VT PoC; we’re a family. This sense of belonging and mutual respect is rare in the workplace. Everyone’s opinions are valued here, and it’s this inclusive culture that makes me love my VT PoC family.

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