My American mother met my Yugoslav father in high school in Bethesda, MD. They were married in Scotland, where they attended university and lived off-the-grid in a small town outside of Stirling for five years. In 1976 they moved to Slovenia, where I was born in 1978. They divorced two years later and my mom and I relocated to the USA in 1980. I attended kindergarten and first grade in the Maryland suburbs while she pursued a Masters Degree in Speech and Language Pathology.
My great grandfather was a WWI veteran and steel mill worker from Pittsburgh, PA. My other great grandfather was a steel mill paymaster and tax collector in California. My American grandfather served in the Navy, went to college on the GI Bill, and designed some of the earliest guided missile systems. In the 1960′s he did Cold War signals intelligence for the NSA before heading the Manned Underseas Science & Technology and Ocean & Lake Levels Divisions at NOAA. My Slovene grandfather was a Partizan captain who fought the Nazis alongside Marshall Tito in World War Two. After the war he became a Minister of Agriculture in the Yugoslav Parliament, was a Director at the World Bank, and served as the Yugoslav ambassador to Kenya. The government service of my grandfathers helped put me through college and also educated me in the ways of the ‘Military Industrial Complex’ and ‘International Financial Institutions.’
Vermont Becomes Home
I moved to Barnard in 1985 after my mom accepted a job in the Windsor Central Supervisory Union. I have vivid memories of waking up that first morning in the house we rented on Silver Lake in the same building as the town post office and a stone’s throw away from the Barnard General Store. It was a welcome change from suburban Maryland and I have considered Vermont my home ever since. My mom pursued advanced graduate studies at UVM and waitressed at the Barnard Inn, eventually re-marrying in 1991. My new step-father, a plumbing & heating contractor, put me to work and taught me to get my hands dirty when things needed fixing.
I went to school at the Barnard Central, Woodstock Elementary and Woodstock Union High Schools. I took a year off after high school to live with my dad’s family in Slovenia and work for his translation company, and then attended UVM for a year and a half as an “undeclared” leaning towards business studies. I formed a skateboard company with my roommate and made movies to showcase our riders. Realizing that my passion for filmmaking far surpassed my interest in business, I transferred to Hampshire College where I produced a documentary film about Slovenia’s war for independence from Yugoslavia – an experience that taught me about territorial autonomy and self-determination – and interned with director Ken Burns for nine months on the film Horatio’s Drive, which happened to be about a Vermonter who made the first successful coast-to-coast journey in an automobile.
After college I took a position as an Associate Producer with an Oscar-nominated film company near Northampton, MA, but returned to Vermont after one film for PBS so that I could pursue my own work. In 2005 I directed and produced Mind Games: A Love Story, which documented Dr. Thomas French’s final year with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). I’ve produced a number of short films and videos for non-profits, advocacy organizations, and individuals while developing my own film projects. In 2012 I directed a short film titled The Last Irene: Where Did All the Water Come From? while also working on a film about women in Nigerian politics called The Supreme Price. You can see samples of some of my other work at www.longshotproductions.org. I also spent six years as a Special Education Program Assistant at the Woodstock Union High School where I managed a classroom for middle- and high-school boys with emotional, behavioral and learning challenges.
Photos of Vermont State Representative Teo Zagar
Between 2007 and 2009 I served as Barnard’s Second Constable and Pound Keeper (although Barnard does not actually have a pound) before being appointed to the Development Review Board. A week before Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont in August 2011 I was appointed by Governor Peter Shumlin to fill the Windsor County seat vacated by the late Mark Mitchell in the House of Representatives. I was elected by the citizens of Barnard, Pomfret, Quechee and West Hartford the following year for a two-year term, and again in 2014. I served on the Agriculture and Forest Products Committee for five years.
I currently sit on the boards of The Carol A. Hurley Memorial Scholarship Fund, the Barnard Development Review Board, the Barnard Community Trust, and Regeneration Vermont.
I live off-the-grid and off the beaten path in the foothills of the Delectable Mountains with two dogs. I rely on a four-wheeler to get home in the warmer seasons and a snowmobile in the winter. I heat with wood and harvest my own from the trees on my land. In the free time I sometimes have I enjoy ice hockey, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, skateboarding my half-pipe, and riding my motorcycle.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me in this role by contributing to my campaigns and voting for me, and especially to Mark and Sarah Mitchell for supporting me at the start.