Kunin served as governor from 1985 to 1991, well aware that her administration would be scrutinized as the first run by a woman.  When she took office, just over 20% of essential government positions were held by women; by the end of her administration, that number was over 40%. She appointed women to many of her senior positions – fully half of her cabinet positions were held by women.

Many of her appointments were firsts, including the first woman to be Secretary of Transportation, first woman to be Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation, and the first woman to serve on Vermont’s Supreme Court.

Education and the environment became a focus of her administration. Initiatives such as the Dr. Dynasaur program, which provided low-income children with access to healthcare, and the creation of the family court system were well ahead of their time. Act 200, which complemented and expanded Vermont’s previous environmental planning legislation, was one of many landmark environmental accomplishments.

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