Carina Driscoll grew up in the city of Burlington, attending Edmunds and graduating from Burlington High School in 1992. Carina grew up in a working class household and has always had a strong work ethic, landing her first job at age 14 at the Burlington Bagel Bakery. Carina worked her way through high school and college at bagel shops, restaurants and retail stores, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Montana where she met her husband, Blake. After college, they moved together to Burlington. Over the years, Carina has lived all over the city from the Five Sisters and the Old North End, to Downtown, on North Avenue, in the New North End and now lives with her husband, Blake and two children, Cole and Tess in the South End.
Between returning to Vermont and prior to starting their business, the Vermont Woodworking School in 2007, Carina worked as a Human Resources Assistant at Burton Snowboards; managed the Burlington Skatepark Taskforce as they launched their fundraising campaign and set up the first temporary skatepark in the South End on the dormant Champlain Parkway road; coordinated the 2000 campaign to re-elect her stepfather, Bernie Sanders to Congress, coordinating town hall meetings and spaghetti suppers all over the state of Vermont, and building national support for his grassroots campaign to represent working class families across the country. Carina also worked in entrepreneurship and small business development as the Resource and Referral Specialist for the Vermont Women's Business Center and the Women's Small Business Program. Before she left to tend to her new small business, Carina was the Communications Director of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.
In 2007, Carina, along with her husband, Blake and her furniture-making instructor, friend, Bob Fletcher, founded the Vermont Woodworking School. Carina had taken up woodworking as a hobby and the three founders identified a need for a school in Vermont, a place where craftsmanship and fine wood furniture-making was both an important part of our heritage and a dying art. With so much talent in Vermont, but very few opportunities to learn, they knew they needed to create education in the tradition of the apprenticeship. Three Entrepreneurial Crafters Knock Wood, Seven Days, 10/3/2007
The school originally occupied an industrial space of over 5,000 square feet in Colchester. Originally, the school ran a small apprenticeship program and sold furniture upholstered by Carina via interior designers and Vermont fine linens company, Anichini. Shortly after opening the school, it was clear that there was a strong interest in the craftsmanship education they were offering and that the school belonged in a beautiful Vermont barn. Woodshop and community member, Burt Steen, purchased a 15,000 square foot, late 1800's dairy barn and converted it to a modern facility. As the sole tenant of this new facility, the Vermont Woodworking School, under Carina's leadership as Director, has grown to 40 full-time students from across the country studying full-time, including 12 Johnson State College students. Burlington College students studied along-side VWS students between 2009 until May of 2016 when Burlington College closed. She's Nailed It, Business People Vermont, Nov. 2015
In the summer of 2017, in anticipation of getting back into Burlington leadership, Carina hired a new Administrative Director to manage the day to day operations of the Vermont Woodworking School.
In 1998, only six years after graduating from Burlington High School, Carina ran for and was elected to the Burlington School Board. In 2000, with 76% of the vote Carina was elected to the Vermont State Legislature to Burlington's sole single-seat district as the youngest woman elected to the legislature to date. During that session due to redistricting, Carina's legislative seat was eliminated and she chose to run for and won a seat on the Burlington City Council in 2002. Carina left her Council seat before her first child was born in 2004. As a School Board Member, a State Legislator and a City Councilor, Carina represented the interests of the working class families, youth, women, and seniors.
Carina was appointed to the Transition Team of Mayor Weinberger after he was elected Mayor for the first time in 2012. After running her business for 5 years, Carina took a leave of absence from the Director position to serve as Assistant to the Mayor for Miro Weinberger for one year. As Assistant to the Mayor, Carina assisted the Mayor in managing Mayoral initiatives and ran the searches for his key appointments including the CEDO Director, the Fletcher Free Library Director, the Parks and Recreation Director, and the CAO. After one year, Carina returned to run her business.
In 2013, with Dawn Moskowitz and Jessica Nordhaus, Carina co-founded the Greater Burlington Women's Forum, a volunteer-led series of free brown bag lunch discussions and events offering presentations and discussion time, and an opportunity to connect with other women in the community who share a common interest in promoting women to leadership. The Forum is now four years old and Carina has stepped down from the Leadership Team to run for Mayor.