|Jane O'Meara Sanders|
|4th President of Burlington College|
March 2004 – September 2011
|Preceded by||Mary Clancy|
|Succeeded by||Christine Plunkett|
|President of Goddard College
|Preceded by||Richard Greene|
|Succeeded by||Barbara Mossberg|
|First Lady of Burlington|
|Preceded by||Mary Paquette|
|Succeeded by||Betsy Ferries|
|Born||Mary Jane O'Meara
January 3, 1950
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Dave Driscoll (Divorced)
Bernie Sanders (1988–present)
|Children||3; 1 stepchild|
|Alma mater||Goddard College
Union Institute and University
Mary Jane O'Meara Sanders (born January 3, 1950) is an American social worker, college administrator and political staffer. Sanders was Provost and interim President of Goddard College (1996–97) and president of Burlington College (2004–11). She has been married to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders since 1988.
Sanders was born Mary Jane O'Meara on January 3, 1950, and grew up in New York City's borough of Brooklyn, as one of 5 children of Bernadette Joan (Sheridan) and Benedict P. O'Meara. She was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools before attending the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Sanders dropped out of Tennessee and moved back to Brooklyn with her first husband, David Driscoll; they then moved to Virginia. In 1975, they moved to Vermont when Driscoll's employer, IBM, transferred him. Sanders has three children from her marriage with Driscoll.
Sanders finished her college degree at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, with a bachelor's in social work. She met Bernie Sanders in 1981, ten days before his first campaign victory as Mayor of Burlington, and again at his victory party; they wed in 1988.
Early in her career, Sanders worked in the Juvenile Division of the Burlington Police Department, and then as a community organizer with the King Street Area Youth Center, and for VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), a job that helped her pay off her student loans.
From 1981 to 1991, Sanders served as founding Director of the Mayor's Youth Office and Department Head in the City of Burlington. She was also active in K-12 education, elected as a School Board Commissioner, and was a founding member of the Women's Council & the Film Commission. In 1991, her husband, Bernie Sanders, was elected to the U.S. Congress. From 1991 to 1995, she served Vermont on a volunteer basis.
In 1996, Sanders was appointed as Provost and Interim President of her alma mater, Goddard College, to help the college through a difficult period. The Board, faculty, staff, students and Sanders worked together to improve the accreditation, finances and governance of the institution.
As senior partner in the Burlington-based consulting firm, Leadership Strategies, O'Meara worked as a political and educational consultant for federal, state, and local political campaigns.
Bernie Sanders has described his wife as "one of [his] key advisers", and he has employed her at various times as "an administrative assistant, spokeswoman, policy adviser, chief of staff, and media buyer". In a 1996 article in The Washington Post, she was credited with helping him draft "more than 50 pieces of legislation".
She has served in Sanders's Congressional office as Chief of Staff and as Policy and Press Adviser, and also serves as an Alternate Commissioner for the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission.
After leaving the Burlington College Presidency, Sanders became a member of the Vermont Economic Development Authority.
In 2004, Sanders was named President of Burlington College, a private, non-profit liberal arts school founded in 1972 in Vermont. She significantly increased the small college's fundraising. During her tenure as President, Burlington had an endowment of "about $150,000", and fundraising revenue had increased from about $25,000 when Sanders first arrived to $1.25 million (including a $1 million bequest) by 2011. In 2010, Sanders oversaw the purchase of property formerly owned and occupied by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. The College based the real estate purchase on projections that enrollment would rapidly grow from fewer than 200 to as many as 750 students, with a corresponding income increase from tuition fees.
In 2011, the college trustees, while crediting Sanders with acquiring a permanent campus for the 200‑student college, called a meeting for September 2011 and accepted Sanders's resignation. "We reached a decision which I believe is best for both the College and me," Sanders said after the meeting, "The board and I have different visions for the future and that’s perfectly fine." Sanders's salary as President was $160,000, with a contract for the position through 2013; on departure, she received the title of President Emeritus and a $200,000 severance. With the College unable to collect on some promised pledges after Sanders had resigned, and the enrollment increase plans failing, the Diocese settled the loan debt with the College in 2015 for $996,000, less than the agreed amount, and with $1 million of the repayment made in shares of an unidentified LLC company.
She has been, her husband says, one of his key advisers ...