Kesha serves Burlington’s Old North End, Hill Section, and University District in the Vermont House of Representatives. At 27 years old, she is currently the youngest legislator serving in Vermont.
With a mother from Illinois and a father from India, she was born in Los Angeles on August 2, 1986. Her mother, a Jewish woman whose family came through Ellis Island fleeing persecution abroad, was the board president of their local food cooperative. Her father, immigrating to America to receive a college education after his Hindu family survived the Partition of India, was a small business owner. They taught their three children, of which Kesha is the youngest, to embrace and celebrate diversity and equality; to embody fierce self-determination and passion for their beliefs; and, most of all, to give back to the community from which they gained so much.
Kesha moved to Vermont to attend the University of Vermont, where she graduated magna cum laude with degrees in Natural Resource Planning and Political Science. She also completed a public law program at American University in Washington, DC. During her tenure at UVM, she was the first person of color and seventh woman to fulfill a term as the Student Government Association President. In that role, she represented nearly 10,000 young people while overseeing a budget of $1.5 million and 150 student organizations. She also taught preschool, serving as the Head Start Advocate at Burlington Children’s Space, and led the policy team for Burlington’s Climate Action Plan. The sense of community and connection to the natural world she found in Burlington drew her to make it her permanent home.
Her campaign for the Vermont House of Representatives consisted mainly of engaging and empowering her neighbors, as she knocked on all of the doors in her district twice and worked hard to bridge the gap between campus and community. That experience confirmed for her that her district cared deeply about the issues she had already been working on: a clean environment, access to a quality education from early childhood to adulthood, and inclusive, sustainable, and equitable opportunities for economic growth.
Kesha was elected State Representative on November 4, 2008 and was sworn in on January 7, 2009. She served for three years as the Clerk of the General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee and was appointed this year to the Ways & Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over revenue generation for the state. She also serves on the Joint Legislative Technology Committee. She is a passionate leader for green job creation, affordability of early childhood and higher education, reducing environmental toxins, tribal rights and recognition, accessible health care, and affordable housing.
Outside of the legislature, Kesha spent the last three years as the Legal Director for Women Helping Battered Women, assisting victims of domestic violence in the courtroom and throughout family and criminal legal proceedings. She now serves as the Public Engagement Specialist for the City of Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office, building relationships and empowering people to participate in city government. She also sits on the boards of the Center for Whole Communities, Emerge Vermont, and the University of Vermont.
Her leadership and service have earned her notable recognition and distinction. Her honors and affiliations include Lola Aiken Scholar, Morris K. Udall Scholar, Ronald E. McNair Scholar, University of Vermont Tower Society, Harry S. Truman Scholar, Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society, and Oxfam “Sister on the Planet” Climate Change Ambassador.
Kesha lives on North Prospect Street in Burlington with her partner, Oliver LaFarge.