Walters: Head to Retire, Killacky to Run for Vermont House | Off Message

Walters: Head to Retire, Killacky to Run for Vermont House


  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Rep. Helen Head
Vermont Rep. Helen Head (D-South Burlington) said Wednesday that she will not seek reelection this year. John Killacky, the outgoing executive director of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, has filed as a Democratic candidate in her district.

Head has served in the legislature since 2003, and is chair of the House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee. She is the second House committee chair to announce retirement this year. Rep. David Sharpe (D-Bristol), of the House Education Committee, announced his departure on Town Meeting Day.

"It's been a wonderful experience here, and an incredible honor, but it's time to move on," Head remarked. She has no immediate plans, but hinted at a possible return to her non-legislative career as a nonprofit administrator.

Hmm, an experienced nonprofit manager with strong relationships in the Statehouse? Seems like there'd be a good market for her services.

She offered a hearty endorsement for Killacky, who'd been pondering a run for office but would only do so if Head retired. "I would never run against her," Killacky said. "I'm an enormous fan of Helen's. She's an exemplary public servant."

Killacky announced last September that he would leave the Flynn Center this June after eight years on the job. He'd been pondering his future since then. "I didn't want to run another arts organization," he said.

When Head started thinking about retirement, he began considering a run for office. "The timing worked out beautifully," Killacky said. "It's really about service. I hope to bring my Flynn Center values to Montpelier if elected."

He has been a frequent presence at the Statehouse when issues related to the nonprofit world are being discussed, and believes that his perspective would be useful in the legislature.
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • John Killacky
The 65-year-old Killacky was hired at the Flynn Center in 2010. At the time, he told the Flynn board that he would stay for five to seven years, so he outlasted his own prediction. He came to Burlington after a seven-year stint as program officer for the San Francisco Foundation. As often happens with transplants, he fell in love with Vermont and vowed to remain here after leaving the Flynn.

Killacky lives in South Burlington with his husband — writer, editor and actor Larry Connolly — and an array of pets, including a Shetland pony named Pacific Raindrop.

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