Appel steps down as executive director of Human Rights Commission

After more than a decade at the helm, Robert Appel is retiring as executive director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission.

Appel said in a release today that he’s leaving state government to join the Hinesburg law firm Kohn Rath Danon and Appel as a partner.

He said he’ll continue to work in the areas of discrimination and criminal defense, areas he specialized in at the commission as well as at his former job overseeing Vermont public defense system.

“We will miss Robert’s steadfastness, vision, legal skills and passion,” HRC chairwoman Mary Marzec said in a release.

She said Vermont has made progress on human-right issues including school harassment, racial profiling and disability rights under Appel’s 11-year tenure.

Appel’s track record includes a victory in Vermont Supreme Court in which he secured public accommodation rights for inmates with disabilities. He also got a court order requiring the Hartford Elks Club to admit women as full members.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my tenure with the Human Rights Commission,” said Appel, who began his career in state government in 1980 as a civil rights investigator in the attorney general’s office. “Nonetheless, after 32 years of state service, it is time for me to pursue other options.”

The HRC said it’s now seeking applications to fill the executive director position.

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