MONTPELIER — Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner David Mears is is leaving the Shumlin administration to rejoin the faculty of Vermont Law School.
Mears, who joined the administration in 2011, helped spearhead Gov. Peter Shumlin’s effort to pass clean water legislation during the last legislative session. He will return to VLS as the director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, the position he previously held at the school. Deputy Commissioner Alyssa Schuren will take over the department’s top spot on August 10.
Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deborah Markowitz said Mears is leaving the state and the department “better than he found them.”
“From the Lake Champlain clean-up plan, to cleaning up polluted industrial sites so that they could again serve as community assets, David’s leadership has helped Vermont advance our shared environmental mission,” she said.
Mears’ departure was part of a handful of staff changes Gov. Peter Shumlin announced on Thursday, and the most significant since announcing in early June that he will not seek a fourth term in 2016. Nearly a dozen top agency and department heads have departed since last summer.
Alyson Richards, deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Shumlin, is leaving the administration on July 24. She has been an influential part of the administration’s education policies.
“Aly has been a trusted member of my team, close advisor, and great friend,” Shumlin said in a statement. “She has played an integral role in our efforts to expand educational opportunities for Vermont kids, helping to pass universal pre-k and secure tens of millions in federal grants that will help us expand and bolster our early childhood education system in this state. Kids born in this state are better off thanks to Aly Richard’s good work.”
The administration did not say what Richards’ plans are after leaving her post. Her departure follows that of Elizabeth Miller, Shumlin’s now-former chief of staff.
Meanwhile, Jon Copans is taking over as deputy commissioner at the Public Service Department on Aug. 17. He will fill the post left vacant by Darren Springer, who is now Shumlin’s chief of staff. Copans is currently a senior policy advisor for government affairs for ANR. He previously worked as deputy state director and campaign manager for Congressman Peter Welch.
“Jon has great experience in both environmental and energy issues and I look forward to continuing our progress in advancing energy and telecommunications efforts on behalf of all Vermonters,” Public Service Department Commissioner Chris Recchia said in a statement.
Director of Vermont Emergency Management Joe Flynn will become deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. Flynn will take over the position for Francis (Paco) Aumand, who is retiring on July 24.