Governor Phil Scott Announces Retirement of Secretary of Human Services Mike Smith
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced that Secretary of Human Services Mike Smith will retire at the end of the year, after his second stint leading the State’s largest agency.
“When I asked Mike to come back to his old job in late 2019, it’s fair to say nobody expected what came next,” said Governor Scott. “Just months into his return to state government, we were hit by a once-in-a-century crisis that demanded the very best of us all. Vermonters are very fortunate that Mike agreed to come back, because without him, we’d be in a much different place. Mike helped lead our world-renowned vaccination rollout, worked tirelessly with our health care providers to keep the system working, helped build our testing capacity and so much more. This is all on top of his day job, leading the largest agency of state government. Most importantly for me, Mike has brought wisdom, invaluable counsel, and a great sense of humor to the job. I wish him and his wife Mary nothing but the best in his well-deserved retirement.”
“I am so grateful to Governor Scott for giving me the opportunity to lead the Agency of Human Services,” said Secretary Smith. “The pandemic has kept me here longer than I anticipated but leaving will still be difficult. There will never be a good time to leave. When I told the Governor of my intention to retire this summer, I thought we would be well on our way toward the endemic phase of this public health crisis. The Delta variant has made our jobs a bit more difficult, but nonetheless, we have testing and vaccination programs that are the envy of the rest of the country and we have protected many Vermonters from the more serious outcomes of this virus. Again, I want to thank Governor Scott for this opportunity. I am very proud of the work that the Agency has accomplished over the last two years, and I am confident the Agency will continue to thrive.”
In addition to its role in the pandemic response, the Agency of Human Services oversees six state departments, twelve district offices, and a network of community partners and providers. It is responsible for the implementation and delivery of all human service programs within the state. Each department has a distinct area of focus and responsibility and contributes to the creation and sustenance of an entire system of human service supports.
Secretary Smith’s career has been defined by service to others. A veteran, Smith served in the U.S. Navy, first with the Underwater Demolition Team 21 and then as a member of SEAL Team Two. He served in the Vermont House of Representatives from 1977-78 and as deputy state treasurer from 1995-99. Secretary Smith also served as the secretary of the Agency of Administration and secretary of the Agency of Human Services in the administration of Governor Jim Douglas.
Deputy Human Services Secretary Jenney Samuelson, who has played an integral role in the state’s COVID-19 response, including helping lead Vermont’s nation-leading vaccination efforts, will serve as interim secretary following Secretary Smith’s departure.
Deputy Secretary Samuelson was appointed by Governor Scott to her role in June of 2020. Prior to her appointment, she served as deputy commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, with particular focus on the intersection of payment and delivery system reform, the adoption of value-based payments, and organizational performance improvement. She was also a founding leader of the innovative Vermont Blueprint for Health during the development of key health care reforms (e.g., patient-centered medical homes, regional community health teams, complex care models, and the Hub and Spoke system of care). Throughout her career, Samuelson has administered numerous community and statewide public health programs, including programs for health care workforce development, tobacco cessation in health systems, lead poisoning prevention, and long-term care. She holds a Master of Science in Community Health Education from Southern Illinois University.