By Carley Dangona
Since 2011, Sullivan has served as the secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Patrick announced on May 23 that Sullivan will take over for Brendan Ryan, the current chief of staff, once the fiscal year 2015 budget process is complete.
Sullivan’s official start date is June 9. Maeve Vallely Bartlett will replace Sullivan as secretary.
“I am humbled that the governor came and asked me to take this on,” Sullivan told Reminder Publications. “I am really excited and honored to become part of the family.”
He continued, “I am a Westfield and a Western Massachusetts guy. I have been a vocal advocate for Western Massachusetts [and will continue being such]. When I first ran for public office, my dad told me ‘Don’t forget where you come from.’”
Sullivan served as the mayor of Westfield from 1994 to 2007. In that capacity, he also served as chairman of the Westfield School Committee.
In 2005, Sullivan was recognized by the New England Association of School Superintendents with its annual President Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education. He is a past president of the Massachusetts Mayors Association, past chairman of the Turnpike Advisory Board, and a past member of the Governor’s Local Advisory Committee. Sullivan also served as founding president of the Winding River Land Conservancy, which has protected 1,700 acres in western Hampden County.
Prior to his appointment to the cabinet post at Energy and Environmental Affairs, Sullivan served as the commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
Sullivan was appointed in June 2007 to the department. Under his leadership, DCR completed several large-scale capital improvements in parks statewide, including a two-year, $21.3 million project at Mt. Greylock State Reservation in Lanesborough that featured rehabilitation of the 13.5-mile Mt. Greylock Road and a $9 million renovation of the visitor center at Georges Island in Boston, a facility that includes a concession area, children’s playground and a state-of-the-art solar-powered maintenance building.
DCR also conducted a Forest Futures Visioning Process to engage residents across the Commonwealth in a discussion of forestry practices in state forests, leading to dramatic expansion of forest reserves that are protected from commercial logging..
While Sullivan said he did not hesitate to accept the chief of staff position of “significant responsibility,” there was a brief moment of “trepidation” where he considered “what he doesn’t know” despite more than 20 years of experience.
“It will certainly be a learning experience professionally, but fun. We will close strong,” Sullivan said. He noted that the remaining six months of the governor’s term has an “aggressive agenda.”
He said, “[Patrick] wants to leave Massachusetts in a much better position than the governor found her.” Sullivan said that he, along with the “talented staff” of the Patrick Administration would “build on the strong leadership of the governor.”
Sullivan added, “The governor has made strategic investments and really has governed the entire Commonwealth.”
When asked what his political plans are for the future, Sullivan responded, “I will let you know once I have those aspirations.”