Governor Phil Scott has appointed Dr. Harry Chen as Interim Commissioner of the Department for Children and Families (DCF) and former DCF Commissioner Sean Brown as Chief Operating Officer of the Agency of Administration.
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.
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.
Sean Brown, Chief Operating Officer, Agency of Administration
Sean 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.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.