Find A Hospital
In the News
Contact Us
Return to: In the News

VAHHS Statement on Appointment of Sarah Squirrell as Next Commissioner of Mental Health

December 07, 2018

The Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems commends Gov. Scott on his selection of Sarah Squirrell as the next Commissioner of Mental Health. Sarah’s expertise and leadership is valued by our members. We are also appreciative of Deputy Commissioner Fox and his work to provide effective leadership during this transition. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Department to promote and develop integrated and compassionate mental health care for all Vermonters.

Below is the Governor's press release.


For Immediate Release: Thursday, December 6, 2018 

Contact: Rebecca Kelley
Office of the Governor



Squirrell replaces Commissioner Melissa Bailey who resigned at the end of October; Interim Commissioner Mourning Fox will continue his work as Deputy Commissioner


Montpelier, Vt. – Thursday, Governor Phil Scott announced the appointment of Sarah Squirrell to be the next Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Mental Health. Squirrell will take over on January 1, 2019, for Mourning Fox who has been serving as the Interim Commissioner since Melissa Bailey’s departure in October. Fox will resume his position as Deputy Commissioner, a role he has been serving in for the last two years.

Sarah Squirrell has extensive experience in human services with a focus on Vermont’s young children and families. For the last two and half years, Squirrell has served as Executive Director for Building Bright Futures, a statewide non-profit organization that serves to monitor the state’s early care, health and education systems. 

“It’s great news Sarah is joining our team,” said Governor Scott. “Her dedication to Vermont’s most vulnerable citizens and her ability to think about creative solutions convince me that she will be a great asset to the work being done at the Agency of Human Services,” Governor Scott added.

“Vermont continues to see major challenges in our overall system of care for delivering mental health services,” said Secretary of Human Services Al Gobeille. “I am thrilled that Sarah has agreed to lead the incredible team we have at the Department of Mental Health to continue to make improvements. I look forward to working with her.”

Squirrell has a Master of Science in Community Mental Health and Clinical Counseling from Southern New Hampshire University, along with a B.A. in Psychology from Johnson State College. Prior to serving as the Executive Director of Building Bright Futures, Squirrell worked for nearly a decade as the Director of School Based Mental Health Services for Laraway Youth and Family Services in Johnson, Vt.

“I want to thank Governor Scott and Secretary Gobeille for the opportunity serve the Department of Mental Health,” said Squirrell. “When our children, family, friends and neighbors need mental health care they need access to a high-quality continuum of care that includes promotion, prevention, treatment and recovery. I look forward to working side by side with Deputy Commissioner, Mourning Fox and our state and community partners to advance solutions to improve our mental health system of care, and to always keep the needs of those we serve and their families at the center of our work,” Squirrell added.