• McKee announces transition team as he prepares to succeed Raimondo

    McKee announces transition team as he prepares to succeed Raimondo

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    PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Lt. Gov. Dan McKee on Saturday announced the names of members of his transition team as he prepares to succeed Gov. Gina Raimondo if she wins confirmation as the new U.S. commerce secretary.

    “My transition team will be a map of Rhode Island,” McKee, a second-term Democrat, said in a statement. “Every single one of our 39 cities and towns will be represented, and its membership will reflect Rhode Island’s diversity.”

    McKee had previously announced that Joe Rodio Jr., his office’s legal counsel, would serve as chairman of the transition. In addition to staff members in his current office and communications volunteers, McKee’s list of 20 senior advisers includes lawmakers and mayors. He also released a separate list of individuals who have been meeting with some state department heads that includes R.I. Superior Court Judge Richard Licht and former R.I. State Police Col. Brendan Doherty.

    Mike Trainor, a spokesperson for McKee, said Licht was not considered a member of the transition committee but has participated in interviews with the heads of the Department of Administration and Office of Management and Budget. Trainor said the transition did not believe Licht’s involvement violated the judicial code of ethics or separation of powers, noting that he led the Department of Administration himself under former Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

    The lieutenant governor’s office initially announced that Dr. Ashish Jha, the nationally renowned dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, would serve as one of the transition’s senior advisers. But hours later the office issued a correction, saying Jha “is not a senior advisor to the transition, but will be serving as a member of the Incoming Governor’s COVID-19 Advisory Group.”

    The other members of McKee’s COVID-19 Advisory Group have not yet been announced. The lieutenant governor’s office said additional transition advisors will be named in the coming weeks.

    Raimondo is scheduled to have her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, but it remains unclear when she will actually step down so the formal transition can take place. McKee told reporters Saturday it could happen as early as the first week of February.

    Also on Saturday, McKee announced he wants teachers to be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations, putting him in opposition to the Raimondo administration’s current strategy.

    Below is the complete list of transition officials and descriptions released by McKee’s office.

    Transition Chairperson

    • Joseph Rodio, Jr.

    Transition Organizing Directors

    • Paulette Hamilton, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Lt. Governor
    • Anthony Silva, Chief of Staff, Office of the Lt. Governor
    • Elizabeth Tanner, Director, R.I. Department of Business Regulation

    Transition Communications Team

    • Brian Jencunas, Volunteer
    • Andrea Palagi, Communications Director, Office of the Lt. Governor
    • Michael Trainor, Volunteer

    Transition Staff

    • Cheyenne Cazeault, Special Projects Manager, Office of the Lt. Governor
    • Craig Dwyer, Senior Policy Advisory, Office of the Lt. Governor
    • Rosa DeCastillo, Policy Analyst, Office of the Lt. Governor
    • Tabatha Dube, Executive Secretary, Office of the Lt. Governor

    Senior Advisors

    • Rep. Mia Ackerman, Deputy Majority Whip
    • Lincoln Town Administrator T. Joseph Almond
    • Rev. Dr. Chris Abhulime, King’s Tabernacle Church
    • Former Lt. Gov. Roger Begin
    • Channavy Chhay, Executive Director, Center for Southeast Asians
    • William Conley, Jr. Esq.
    • Caswell Cooke, Executive Director, Misquamicut Business Association
    • Sen. Louis DiPalma, Chairman, R.I. Senate Committee on Rules, Gov. Ethics & Oversight
    • Corey Jones, Executive Director, Black Lives Matter New England PAC
    • North Providence Mayor Lombardi
    • Ana Bess Moyer Bell, Founder, Creating Outreach About Addiction Support
    • Rep. Robert Phillips, Deputy Majority Leader
    • Jennifer Ortiz, Owner, Executive Cuts
    • Chris Parisi, Founder/CEO, Trailblaze Marketing
    • Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena
    • Sen. Ana Quezada, Deputy Majority Whip
    • Armand E. Sabitoni, LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer & New England Regional Manager
    • Chief Brian Sullivan, Lincoln Police Department
    • James Vincent, President, NAACP Providence Branch

    Inauguration Co-Chairs

    • Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien
    • Cumberland Mayor Jeff Mutter

    Members of Incoming Governor McKee’s transition team and past government officials have been meeting with state department leaders to discuss departmental operations, time sensitive short-term initiatives that may be impacted by the transition, and agency budgets. Participants include:

    • Tony Afonso, Esq.
    • Lisa Andoscia, President, Rosewood Consulting
    • Scott Avedisian, CEO, Rhode Island Public Transit Authority
    • Lt. General Centracchio (Retired)
    • Channavy Chhay, Executive Director, Center for Southeast Asians
    • William J. Conley Jr., Esq.
    • Rosa DeCastillo, Policy Analyst, Lt. Governor’s Office
    • Colonel Brendan Doherty (Retired)
    • Erin Donovan Boyle, Executive Director, Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce
    • Paulette Hamilton, Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt. Governor’s Office
    • Former Lt. Gov. Richard Licht
    • Charles Roberts, Founder/Executive Director, Rhode Island Slave History Medallions
    • Anthony Silva, Chief of Staff, Lt. Governor’s Office

    Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Instagram

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