Vermont Business Magazine Paul Cillo, founding Executive Director and President of the Public Assets Institute, is stepping down, the organization’s Board of Directors announced today. Cillo has led the think tank, which focuses on advancing racial, social, and economic justice, for 19 years.
Cillo’s significant contributions to public policy work span more than 40 years, as a local and state political representative and a consultant on education finance, tax and budget policy, health care, and energy efficiency.
He represented Hardwick, Walden, and Stannard in the Vermont House of Representatives for 10 years, serving four years on the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee and four as Majority Leader.
During those years he designed and steered the Legislature to adopt Act 60 of 1997, a groundbreaking education financing system that equalizes opportunity for all Vermont children, regardless of where they live.
“Paul’s impact on the state of Vermont can’t be overstated, and neither can his impact on turning Public Assets Institute into the respected, high-impact organization it is today,” said Board Chair Steve Gold. “We will miss his skilled leadership, and are so appreciative that he’s leaving the organization in excellent shape. It sets the stage for Public Assets’ continued effectiveness under its next leader.”
Cillo founded Public Assets in 2003 to fill what he saw as a void in data-driven research and analysis on Vermont-specific tax, budget, and other public policies. The work was to illuminate policy choices through careful analysis and clear writing for a broad audience of policy makers and the people they serve. The goal was a state that worked for everybody, including those whose voices are marginalized because of race, income, gender, or disability.
“Public Assets has become a small but mighty part of our network of state policy organizations, thanks to Paul’s steady leadership,” said Michael Leachman, Vice President of State Fiscal Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. CBPP coordinates a national network, the State Priorities Partnership, of which Public Assets is a member. “We know that Public Assets’ next leader will be set up for success thanks to the work of Paul and his team; we can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Over Cillo’s tenure, Public Assets’ work has led to the enactment of Vermont’s universal pre-K program, an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as well as other improvements to the state income tax that increased its fairness, and changes to public education funding that have made Vermont’s system the most equitable in the nation.
In 2012 advocacy by Public Assets and its partners resulted in the passage of a People’s Budget that put into statute the purpose of the state budget based in human rights principles. Now, a decade later, Public Assets is a leader in the state working to ensure that policymakers use this framework for creating state budgets that are responsive to people’s needs.
“The time is right to step down,” said Cillo. “Public Assets’ board, staff, statewide partnerships, and donor support are stronger than ever. The organization is ready for the next generation of leadership. I am proud and honored to have been a part of building Public Assets and to have directed its work bringing fact-based clarity and a vision of racial, social, and economic equity to our public policy discussions. I’m eager to see what comes next.”
The board is conducting an open search for the next Executive Director and will post the job opening this month. Cillo remains at Public Assets’ helm through 2022.
Public Assets Institute is a Montpelier-based nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes sound state budget and tax policies that benefit all Vermonters. More information about Public Assets Institute and reports based on its research and analysis are available on its website www.publicassets.org.