Gwen most recently made national headlines with her work in Vermont to ask Town Meetings to consider public banking. In March of 2014, 18 cities and towns in Vermont voted to endorse a resolution directing the state legislators to create a State Bank for Vermont. Thanks to the media expertise of William Boardman and Matt Stannard of the Public Bank Insitute, the national media picked up on the story, resulting in over 20 radio interviews, print stories, and a syndicated television program.
Gwen is the author of several books on sustainable communities and economic reform, including her most recent book with Bernard Lietaer called Creating Wealth: Growing Local Communities with Local Currencies. She has been an advocate for economic reform for over 25 years, and implemented new currency projects on the local level in her recent position as the Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Montpelier. Her work spans the globe – she has worked in all the major world regions at this point, and with cities, towns, regions, provinces, and states in the United States and Canada. Gwen is an advocate of a public monetary system with a deep commitment to local action.
The founder and Executive Director of Global Community Initiatives (GCI), Gwen Hallsmith, has over 25 years of experience working with municipal, regional, and state government in the United States and internationally. She has served as a City Manager, a Regional Planning Director, Senior Planner for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy Resources, the Deputy Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and as an international specialist on sustainable community development. Her international experience has included work with the United Nations Environmental Program, the United Nations Development Program, the Institute for Sustainable Communities, the International City/County Management Association, the Academy for Educational Development, and Earth Charter International.
In addition to her academic training in public policy (M.A. Brown University), she has done Ph.D. work in international environmental policy at the University of British Columbia, and theological studies at the Andover Newton Theological School. She currently serves as the President of Vermont Earth Institute, and was on the founding board of the Vermont Peace Academy and the Twinfield Learning Center. GCI has offices in Montpelier, Vermont, and Johannesburg, South Africa.
Her book,The Key to Sustainable Cities: Meeting Human Needs, Transforming Community Systems, and a new workbook Taking Action for Sustainability: The EarthCAT Guide to Community Development, are being used by several communities to initiate an innovative new planning process – including the City of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and the City of Newburgh, NY. The approach is based on using universal human needs as a starting point for engaging in a multi-stakeholder process, building on assets, and using a whole system understanding that identifies critical leverage points for change. She lives in Montpelier, Vermont, with her husband, George, and her son, Dylan, and is a member of the Plainfield Friends Meeting.