Public Assets Institute > Blog > Larry Mandell remembered

Larry Mandell remembered

We were shocked and saddened to learn that Public Assets’ board chair, Larry Mandell, died on January 21.

It was shocking because he was active and by all appearances healthy. I had spoken with Larry a few days before he died and nothing about that conversation suggested that his symptoms would prove fatal. He was in the hospital for some tests. But it turns out that Larry had a rare and fast-acting disease called amyloidosis that caused his heart to stop suddenly.

We were saddened because Larry was a friend and a leader at Public Assets Institute. We miss him.

I had known Larry Mandell for decades, though just to say hello and exchange pleasantries. We had never had a conversation—until November 9, 2011.

That morning we had breakfast at J Morgan’s in Montpelier. On the recommendation of board members, I was there to see if Larry might be interested in joining our board. What I remember from that meeting was that I felt like I was in a job interview. Larry peppered me with questions that I struggled to answer. After the hour, he said he would think about it. The following summer he agreed to join the board. The board obviously regarded Larry highly. A year after he started, they elected him chair.

Larry was a great partner for the staff. He scheduled weekly check-in phone calls with us. He challenged us. He brainstormed with us. He went to national conferences with us. And he advocated for us.

He had a gentle style but was also direct and persistent. During his tenure on the board things that we had been talking about for years began to happen. We expanded the board, developed a strategic plan, increased our capacity, and broadened our work from just defending existing progressive state fiscal policies to also developing and helping to advance needed reforms. Larry talked about Public Assets becoming the organization that Vermont needs us to be, and he helped to put us on the road to making that happen.

Larry was committed to sound research and analysis, using data to help us understand what’s true so that we can develop policies that really solve problems. The problems he was looking to solve were almost always about fairness and equity. He wanted all Vermonters to have a shot at a decent life, and he worked to knock down barriers that stand in their way. In recent years, Larry encouraged Public Assets to take a more active role through our research and analysis to make Vermont racially equitable.

Larry’s family wants to honor Larry’s commitment and continue his work for equity, and so do we. So we have established a fund in his name. The Larry Mandell Fund for Racial, Social, and Economic Equity will support Public Assets’ work to create a more inclusive Vermont.

We appreciate all that Larry Mandell has done for Vermont, and we miss him. And we are glad to have our work be part of Larry’s legacy to the state.

Information on making a gift to the Larry Mandell Fund for Racial, Social, and Economic Equity:

  • Checks should be made out to “Public Assets Institute – Larry Mandell Fund” and mailed to:

Public Assets Institute
PO Box 942
Montpelier, VT  05601

Posted by Paul Cillo on February 1, 2019 at 2:17 pm

2 Responses to “Larry Mandell remembered”

  1. Amy M Davenport says:

    Thank you so much for setting this up Paul. It is a wonderful tribute to a truly amazing man.

  2. […] Mandell Fund for Racial, Social, and Economic Equity at the Public Assets Institute online at:, or by check to Public Assets Institute, PO Box 942, Montpelier, […]