Gwendolyn Hallsmith, the founder and Executive Director of Global Community Initiatives (GCI), 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.