Kevin Chu Honored as 2023 Distinguished Citizen

This week, Champlain College awarded our 2023 Distinguished Citizen Award to Kevin Chu, Executive Director of The Vermont Futures Project.

The Distinguished Citizen Award recognizes and celebrates leaders whose personal and professional achievements exemplify Champlain’s commitment to developing engaged citizens who make a meaningful impact on their communities.  

Champlain College is honored to name Kevin Chu as this year’s Distinguished Citizen. Through his work with The Vermont Futures Project, Kevin embodies our institution’s core values of entrepreneurship, being an engine of opportunity, and lifting people and communities,” said Alex Hernandez, Champlain College President. “He uses data to bring people from different perspectives together and help Vermont thrive.”

Chu started off his Convocation speech asking students to raise their hands if they felt even the slightest sense of uncertainty about the future. “Good, embrace that feeling,” he said to a tent of raised hands.

The Vermont Futures Project promotes the long-term economic health of Vermont using a data-informed and collaborative approach. Through leadership, research, and education, the organization seeks to inform the conversation about Vermont’s economic future and demonstrate how a healthy economy contributes to the state’s communities and quality of life.

Chu works tirelessly to bridge partnerships with Vermont stakeholders and convert data to actionable economic strategy that involves in-state talent growth, innovation and entrepreneurship, diversity, and investment.

The honor was bestowed during our Convocation ceremony, welcoming new students to campus. During the event, Chu shared appreciation for Vermont, his drive to uplift his community, and the Vermont Futures Project goal to create opportunity for all Vermonters.

“Uncertainty is just opportunity in disguise,” Chu said during his Convocation address. “I’m much more scared of a future that is 100% certain and pre-determined.”

Chu went on to share his journey and how he got to where he is today. “I’ve followed four simple words in my career: Move forward. Give back,” he said.

Champlain President Alex Hernandez congratulates Chu on receiving Champlain’s 2023 Distinguished Citizen Award.

Chu welcomed the Class of 2027 and transfer students to Burlington and Vermont with a clear message: You are now Vermonters. There is ample opportunity in the area, he explained, inviting students to add their unique experiences and perspectives to the community.

“I’ve asked you to embrace uncertainty, but I’ll close with this,” ended Chu. “Be certain that you are welcome here. Vermont needs you now and into the future. Be certain about our shared values and help bring the best of Vermont to more people.”

Last year’s Distinguished Citizen recipient was Weiwei Wang, co-founder and director of operations and development of the Vermont Professionals of Color (PoC) Network.

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