Much like his first round of high-ranking appointments last week, Governor-elect Peter Shumlin announced key appointments to his cabinet today that contained a couple of surprises. The Governor-elect announced that Lawrence Miller will be the Secretary of Commerce and Community Development. Miller will work closely with Patricia Moulton-Powden who will be the Agency’s Deputy Secretary. Chuck Ross will be the Secretary of Agriculture and Annie Noonan will be the Commissioner of Labor. This team will work together closely with one shared mission, Shumlin said, job creation. Shumlin made these appointments a top priority in his transition as economic development and the creation of good paying jobs in Vermont will be his administration's primary focus.
Pictured from left: Pat Moulton-Powden, Lawrence Miller, Governor-elect Shumlin, Annie Noonan and Chuck Ross. Photo by Vermont Business Magazine.
Press play to listen to press conference.
While Ross and Noonan were among those much anticipated to join the Shumlin administration, the governor-elect strode to the podium with a couple of surprise selections. Just as naming state Treasurer Jeb Spaulding as administration secretary was the biggest story in the first round of appointments, Shumlin's selection of Pat Moulton Powden as the number two person in the development agency was perhaps the biggest this time around. She served under both Democratic and Republican administrations and most recently was Governor Douglas' Labor Commissioner. She recently went to the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and now is back in an agency where she once ran Economic Development. The other surprise was Miller, who has been a longtime entrepreneur and business executive. The announcements were made in Burlington at UVM's Davis Center.
‘I am thrilled that each of these talented individuals has agreed to join our job creation team,’ said Shumlin. ‘Vermont has a bright jobs future. Agriculture, manufacturing, renewable energy and efficiency, technology, and tourism will be job creators in a new Vermont economy if we have the vision to transform the way we do business. These four appointees are uniquely suited to seize that opportunity."
"Agriculture is a critical engine of economic growth and there is a direct connection between our farms, our vibrant communities and a strong economy," Shumlin continued. "The Agency of Commerce will work closely with the Agency of Agriculture to seize the job creation opportunities that sustainable and conventional agriculture represent. The Agency of Labor will play a critical role in developing workforce training initiatives that support small businesses and create good jobs. Lawrence, Pat, Chuck and Annie will make a great team, and I am grateful to them for accepting this challenge.’
Lawrence Miller, the Secretary-designee of Commerce and Community Development, is a Vermont entrepreneur who in 1990 founded Otter Creek Brewery Following the sale of Otter Creek, Lawrence became involved with Danforth Pewter and moved into the role of CEO. He has been involved with creating economic development strategies for Vermont through his work on the Vermont Economic Progress Council and the Clean Energy Development Fund.
For the past 20 years, Patricia Moulton-Powden, the Agency’s Deputy Secretary-designee, has been on the front lines of economic development. She has served in a number of state roles, including Commissioner of Economic Development and Commissioner of Labor, and is well known and respected by the Vermont business community.
Chuck Ross, the Secretary-designee of Agriculture has been a key member of Senator Leahy's staff for sixteen years. He has been highly involved in the Senator's extensive efforts to preserve and support our dairy farms and encourage business development across Vermont. In recent years he's been part nearly every major discussion about a Vermont agricultural renaissance.
Annie Noonan, the Commisioner-designee of Labor, been working in labor relations for 30 years, including as Executive Director of the Vermont State Employees Association. In that role, she was often called upon by legislators for her wisdom and good judgment. Annie is passionate about creating jobs that can keep our young Vermonters here and that expand opportunities in the trades sector.
While announcing his job creation team, Shumlin also acknowledged the important role that Vermont’s higher education institutions play in any successful economic development endeavor. Dean Tom Vogelmann, Provost Jane Knodell, Vice President Domenico Grasso and Dan Smith of the Vermont State Colleges were all present for the press conference, which was held at UVM.
Biographical and salary information for appointees:
Lawrence Miller, Secretary of Agency of Commerce and Community Development
Miller was the founder of Otter Creek Brewing, Inc. As owner, CEO, and Brewmaster Lawrence grew Otter Creek from a single-person, draft only brewery to a leading Regional Specialty brewer from 1990 through the successful sale of the company in 2002.
After selling Otter Creek, Miller developed an independent advisory practice focusing on manufacturers of consumer products including start-ups, high growth companies, and turnarounds. During this period Lawrence also served on the Committee of Operating Executives at Worth Mountain Capital Partners and as a Peer Advisor with the Vermont Peer-to-Peer Collaborative, now housed at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. In 2007 he accepted the position of Chairman and CEO at client company Danforth Pewter where he has led a migration strategy from wholesale to multi-channel consumer marketing, including acquisition of compatible pewter brands.
Miller has direct experience with the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. He currently serves on the Oversight Panel for the reform of State and Regional Economic Development and Planning services, which was created as part of Challenges for Change. From 1997 to 2006 he served as a Board Member of the Vermont Economic Progress Council, the last two years as Chairman. VEPC was tasked with long range economic development planning and administering the state’s tax incentive programs in support of a vision of ‘Vermont as an economically and environmentally healthy place to work and live.’ He was also the first Chairman of the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, and currently serves on the Advisory Committee of the new VSJF Flexible Capital Fund. He has also been a member of the North Country Angels investment group for several years.
Miller earned his undergraduate degree in psychology in 1987 from Reed College, in Portland, Oregon. From 1997- 1999 he completed the Birthing of Giants Entrepreneurial Leadership program at MIT, in Boston. Miller is a resident of Ripton and is married to Ginger Dowling Miller with two children ages 14 and 9. As Secretary of ACCD, Miller’s annual salary will be approximately $109,000.
Patricia Moulton Powden (pictured with Chief of Staff Bill Lofy), Deputy Secretary of Agency of Commerce and Community Development
Patricia Moulton Powden joined the Vermont Chamber as the Vice President of Public Affairs in July 2010. Prior to joining the Chamber, Pat served as Commissioner of Labor for four years under Governor Douglas. Prior to her position as Commissioner, she was appointed by Governor Douglas to serve as the full-time Chair of the Vermont Natural Resources Board.
Prior to her environmental regulation and policy work, Powden spent 22 years in the practice of economic development on the local, regional, and state levels. Working for several different local and regional development corporations, Powden helped many companies start-up, expand, and relocate to Vermont. In 1990, she was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic Development by Governor Snelling and subsequently appointed Commissioner of Economic Development by Governor Dean. Powden also ran her own economic development consulting company for several years. She is a native Vermonter born in Rutland and educated in public schools in Montpelier and Hartford, Vermont. Powden is a graduate of the University of Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. She is married to Timothy Powden and lives in South Londonderry, Vermont. As Deputy Secretary of ACCD, Powden’s annual salary will be approximately $98,000.
Chuck Ross, Secretary of Agriculture
Chuck Ross has been the State Director for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy for the last 16 years. In addition to his management responsibilities he has focused on the issues of sustainable development, energy and emerging business opportunities, including opportunities relating to agriculture and food systems. During this time he has also helped manage his family’s farming interests in Vermont and Iowa. Prior to being employed by Senator Leahy, Ross worked on his family's farms and served as the State Representative from Hinesburg. As State Representative he served on the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee and concluded his service as Chairman in 1994.
Ross has served on various boards in Vermont including The University of Vermont (UVM); Shelburne Farms; Fletcher Allen Health Care; The Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources at UVM; and Leadership Champlain. Currently Chuck serves as a liaison to the Vermont Council of Rural Development. Ross graduated from UVM with a BA and an MA in from University of Washington, Seattle WA. where studied agricultural land use changes in Vermont and the nationally. He lives in Hinesburg with his family. As Secretary of Agriculture, Ross’s annual salary will be approximately $109,000.
Annie Noonan, Commissioner of Labor
Annie Noonan has more than 33 years professional experience in labor relations, government and legislative lobbying in Vermont and New England, including a long tenure as the Executive Director of the Vermont State Employees Association. She worked for 5 years for the University of Vermont Career Planning and Placement Office assisting students, local residents and (Vietnam) veterans with job placement. She is currently working for the University of Connecticut Professional Employees and is in charge of labor relations, arbitration and health and safety division.
Over the years, she has been appointed by Vermont governors and legislative leaders to serve on study committees for government accountability and efficiency; public pensions; PTSD in public safety workers; revamping public sector contract funding; telecommuting; the council on diversity and affirmative action, and the joint labor-management committee on child and elder care.
Noonan graduated South Burlington HS, the University of Vermont (BA), and the University of Massachusetts (MS in Labor Relations & Research). Following graduation, she served as graduate researcher and taught labor law to women in non-traditional (’trades’) occupations. Annie lives in Montpelier and has one daughter, Colleen Noonan. As Commissioner of Labor, Noonan’s annual salary will be approximately $94,000.