State Government

ER doc, paramedic named to top jobs in Scott administration

Former lawmaker, Covid response leader Dr. Harry Chen returns to guv’s administration

Dr. Harry Chen, a former Rutland County lawmaker and Commissioner of Health under Gov. Peter Shumlin, has been named as interim commissioner of the Dept. for Children and Families. He succeeds Sean Brown, who assumes another top job in the Scott administration.

Governor Phil Scott Tuesday, October 11 announced three key executive branch appointments: Chen as interim commissioner of the Department for Children and Families (DCF) in the Agency of Human Services (AHS); Brown as chief operating officer of the Agency of Administration (AOA); and emergency medical services chief and paramedic Daniel Batsie as the deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Sean Brown, chief operating officer, Agency of Administration

Brown has served as the commissioner of the Department for Children and Families since June of 2020. He previously served as deputy commissioner of the Economic Services Division within the DCF since 2014.

“Sean has been a valuable member of the AHS team and has dedicated his career to serving the people of Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “I’m grateful for his willingness to continue that service in this new role.”

“While I am excited for this new leadership opportunity, it is not easy to leave what has essentially become my second family at DCF and AHS,” said Commissioner Brown. “I have been fortunate to work with so many talented and passionate people across AHS and DCF during my tenure. I am thankful for the Governor’s continued support and look forward to forging new connections at AOA and across state government.”

Brown has dedicated the past twenty-six years to serving Vermonters through a variety of roles within the Agency of Human Services. His contributions in leadership positions within the Department over the last eight and half years have demonstrated both his commitment to the wellbeing of Vermonters and to building strong relationships with colleagues at a variety of levels throughout State Government and with community partners across the state.

He will continue his service to Vermont by transitioning to a leadership position within the Agency of Administration as their Chief Operations Officer.

Throughout his time with the Department for Children and Families he has encouraged people around him to think both creatively and strategically when determining how best to serve Vermonters. Notably, Commissioner Brown led the Department through the COVID-19 pandemic – working with staff, clients, and community partners to adapt to an ever-changing public health emergency that touched regulations and policies impacting our most vulnerable Vermonters.

He will assume his new role later this month.

Dr. Harry Chen, interim commissioner, Department for Children and Families

Dr. Chen served as medical advisor to the State’s response to COVID-19 and opioid epidemic. He was the chair of the Vermont Covid Vaccine Implementation Advisory Board and assisted with the pandemic response with the CDC foundation as a senior advisor for HHS Region 3. He was previously executive director of the Center for Health and Wellbeing at the University of Vermont and the University’s senior public health officer. He spent a year in Uganda (2017-18) where he co-led the country’s first Emergency Medicine Residency as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Global Health Service Partnership.

“I want to express my sincere appreciation to Dr. Chen for his willingness to serve as interim commissioner for the next four months,” said Governor Scott. “Dr. Chen has a wealth of experience in state government leadership and is always willing to step up to serve his fellow Vermonters.”

Dr. Chen was commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health from 2011 through early 2017. He also served as acting secretary of the Agency of Human Services in 2014. From 2012-2017, Dr. Chen served on CDC’s Board of Scientific Counselors Office of Infectious Disease and chaired its food safety working group. He was on the Board of Directors of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. (He has spoken and written on health care reform and public health issues regionally and nationally.

An emergency physician at Rutland Regional Medical Center for over 25 years, Dr. Chen was medical director from 1998-2004. He is on the clinical faculty at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and served as vice chair of the University of Vermont Board of Trustees. In 2002, Harry was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives, where he served until 2008.

Dr. Chen earned his medical degree and completed his residency in emergency medicine at the Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine, serving as chief resident. In 2017, he was awarded the Charles A. Preuss Distinguished Alumnus Award.

“I am excited to return to state government and support the capable and caring employees at DCF with their vital work on behalf of Vermonters,” said Dr. Chen.

Daniel Batsie, deputy commissioner, Department of Public Safety

Batsie currently serves as director of the Vermont Department of Health’s Division of Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Injury Prevention. He previously spent four years supervising statewide ambulance and first-responder services as emergency medical services chief.

“Dan’s devotion to public safety is apparent through his lifelong work in emergency medical services and first response,” said Governor Scott. “His role with the Health Department was central to our management of Vermont’s nation-leading response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vermonters are fortunate to have someone with Dan’s background, experience and strategic vision as the deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.”

As deputy commissioner, Batsie will supervise Vermont Emergency Management, the Vermont Crime Information Center, the Division of Fire Safety, and DPS’s response to public records requests. He also will serve as a liaison to the Vermont Legislature, support the commissioner of the Department, and perform other duties as assigned.

Prior to joining the Health Department in 2016, Batsie began his career in 1994 as a paramedic in Syracuse, New York. Five years later, he relocated to Maine, where he spent the next 17 years as a paramedic firefighter, deputy fire chief, director of EMS, and education director for various EMS agencies and fire departments from Bangor to Portland. Upon joining the Vermont Department of Health, Batsie took on responsibilities including incident manager of the Health Emergency Operations Center; managing the Department’s incident command structure; supervising the injury prevention program, which includes opioid, traffic safety, car seat and traumatic injury programs; and directing Vermont’s emergency medical services system.

“I am honored to be appointed deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Safety,” said Batsie. “While it is bittersweet to leave the Department of Health team, I look forward to serving the outstanding people of Public Safety. I will carry my experience with me as a paramedic firefighter and the lessons of the COVID-19 response and will never forget that our most important responsibility is to protect the residents of Vermont and those who visit our state.”

Batsie begins his new role November 7. He succeeds Jennifer Morrison, who was appointed DPS Commissioner earlier this year. 

Categories: State Government

2 replies »

  1. It’s unclear to me if the governor based his Covid response on recommendations from Dr. Chen, or if he was just trying to be like Gov Cuomo. If he was following Dr. Chen’s direction, then I don’t think this is a good sign. There are many Vermonters who still are so thankful for Governor Scott’s leadership during the pandemic. I am not one of those people. It looked much more like a power grab than a thoughtful action plan to keep people safe. It wouldn’t he so bad, except we’re getting the bill for keeping so many people locked in their homes, and now I’m mad all over again.

  2. Harry Chen is a communist. His only service is to himself. As a Rutland county resident having dealt with him, his appointment is frightening. I see more of the same top down mandates coming!