Montpelier, Vt. - Governor Phil Scott today announced he appointed Chris Winters, of Berlin, as commissioner of the Department for Children and Families (DCF). Winters will replace Interim Commissioner Harry Chen, M.D., who has served since October.
Additionally, the current deputy commissioner of the Child Development Division (CDD), Miranda Gray, will become deputy commissioner of the Economic Services Division (ESD), and Janet McLaughlin will join the Department as deputy commissioner of CDD.
“Chris is an experienced leader with a proven track record in state government,” said Governor Scott. “I’m grateful for his willingness to build on that service in a new role, and I’m confident he will continue to develop his record as an effective manager.”
Winters most recently served as deputy secretary of state, overseeing all aspects of the office responsible for elections, business registration, corporations, and the state records and archives. He served as deputy secretary for the past eight years.
He started his career with the Secretary of State’s Office 25 years ago as a staff attorney, then as director of the Office Professional Regulation, where he was focused on public protection through regulation of 50 professions and 80,000 licensed professionals.
“I have always been proud to work every day to solve problems for Vermonters and give back to the state that has given so much to me,” said Winters. “I am excited to join the DCF team. The passion and dedication of the people there is impressive, carrying out some of the most important work in state government. It’s an incredible opportunity to contribute to the health, safety, well-being, and self-sufficiency of Vermont children and families.”
Winters grew up in Williamstown, Vt., and was the first in his family to go to college. He now resides in the town of Berlin with his wife Sarah and four children. He is an active member of his community, having served as chair of the local school board and coached Little League baseball.
“I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for the extraordinary efforts of the team at DCF on behalf of the most vulnerable Vermonters,” said outgoing Commissioner Chen said. “It has been an honor serving as interim commissioner. With a full slate of deputies and a capable leader like Chris Winters, I have hope for the future.”
“I want to thank Dr. Chen for his leadership and agreeing to serve in an interim role over the past several months,” said Governor Scott. “Dr. Chen has been a tremendous asset for the Department, providing stability and experience. I thank him for his dedication to the State, and I wish him the best in his next chapter of service.”
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER APPOINTMENTS
“We are excited about moving forward with a full and energetic leadership team at DCF, dedicated to serving vulnerable Vermonters in need,” said Agency of Human Services Secretary Jenney Samuelson. “The AHS team is thankful for Dr. Chen’s service, and is excited to work with the new commissioner and two deputies, all with depths of experience in their fields at the helms of our critical service systems.”
Miranda Gray, deputy commissioner, Economic Services Division
Gray spent 15 years working in various roles within the DCF Economic Services Division, Reach Up Program, before coming to CDD as interim deputy commissioner in February 2021. She carries a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Saint Michael’s College, graduated the Vermont Leadership Institute with the Snelling Center, and presented at several national conferences/webinars on the whole family approach and success through coordinated mental health and substance use service. Prior to working with the State, Gray worked at the Orange County Parent Child Center.
Janet McLaughlin, deputy commissioner, Child Development Division
McLaughlin brings two decades of leadership in the nonprofit sector in both Vermont and Washington, D.C. to her work. She joins CDD from the Vermont Association of Education of Young Children (VTAEYC), the state's professional association for early childhood educators, where she has been executive director since April 2021. In this role, she led the organization in supporting multiple programs funded by the CDD.
Before VTAEYC, McLaughlin worked to strengthen Vermont’s early childhood education system while serving as chief programs officer, interim CEO, and chief operating officer at Let's Grow Kids. Janet has a long history supporting the nonprofit sector in Vermont and in D.C., including serving on the boards of Spectrum Youth and Family Services, and the McClure Foundation. She has a Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University, and an undergraduate degree from Harvard University.