Scott Appoints Mike Smith to Reprise Role as Human Services Chief | Off Message

Scott Appoints Mike Smith to Reprise Role as Human Services Chief

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Mike Smith at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew THorsen
  • Mike Smith at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies
Updated at 4:07 p.m.

Mike Smith, a former secretary of Vermont's Agency of Human Services, will return to the role for a second stint.

Gov. Phil Scott announced Thursday that the veteran business and government leader will replace former secretary Al Gobeille later this month. Gobeille resigned in June and later took a top job at the University of Vermont Health Network. Deputy Secretary Martha Maksym has been leading AHS on an interim basis since his departure.



The agency is the largest in Vermont state government. It includes six departments, including those overseeing corrections, mental health, child protection, public health and publicly funded health insurance programs.

A fixture in the world of state government and policy, Smith was described in a 2015 Seven Days profile as the state's "interim fixer-in-chief." The 66-year-old has held key roles in recent years at a number of high-profile — and often struggling — organizations, including Vermont Information Technology Leaders, the Enhanced 9-1-1 Board, Burlington College and FairPoint Communications. He's also dipped his toe in the media world, penning a regular political column, serving as a WCAX-TV political analyst and hosting WDEV Radio's morning talk show.

A former U.S. Navy SEAL and Republican state representative, Smith became a loyal lieutenant to Jim Douglas — serving first as his deputy state treasurer and, following Douglas' election as governor, as his secretary of administration. Smith took a one-year hiatus from that job in 2005 to lead the Agency of Human Services.
In a statement announcing Smith's appointment, Scott hailed his "wide and varied background" and called him a "dynamic and effective leader."

Smith said in an interview Thursday that he had “yearned” to return to the job he once held. “I found it one of the most rewarding positions I’ve ever had — and I’ve had a lot of positions,” he said with a laugh. “You have the opportunity to help the most vulnerable and to really change people’s lives. That’s a rewarding experience, and I wanted to have it again.”

The incoming secretary said it was too soon to say what changes he would make at the agency. “But overall my objectives are to ensure that the agency operates as effectively and efficiently as possible to meet the needs of Vermonters," he said.

Smith has served as interim president and CEO of Vermont Information Technology Leaders since February 2018. He said he plans to leave that job on October 28, the same day he begins as secretary.

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