Incoming Governor McKee Announces Transition COVID-19 Advisory Group
PROVIDENCE, RI – Today, Incoming Governor Dan McKee announced the formation of the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Group, a team of national and local leaders who will advise the Incoming Governor and his transition on the state’s pandemic response and vaccine rollout, particularly as it relates to vaccine distribution at the municipal level. The Transition COVID-19 Advisory Group, which includes several municipal leaders, will be led by Dr. John A. Stoukides and Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena, RN.
“Our transition is laser-focused on the COVID-19 response and vaccine rollout. That’s how we will ensure Rhode Island comes out of this crisis stronger than we went in,” said Incoming Governor McKee. “We want to make sure we are leveraging all the talent we have in our state, so that Rhode Island’s families can reunite, children can return to school, and small business owners can return to normal. That’s why we brought together this group of experts, who will work closely with the Rhode Island Department of Health staff to help the state achieve a swift vaccine rollout.”
“The Biden administration has promised 100 million vaccinations within the first 100 days in office, and this advisory group, comprised of national and local experts, will work with Incoming Governor Dan McKee to provide perspective about how to maximize the efficiency of our vaccine distribution process and other elements of our COVID-19 response,” said Dr. Stoukides.
“The Transition COVID-19 Advisory Group is uniquely positioned to work with Incoming Governor McKee to achieve his goal of strategically engaging our municipalities in Rhode Island’s COVID-19 response to assist the state across the board, including in distributing the vaccine as quickly and efficiently as possible when the supply increases,” said Mayor Polisena.
The Transition COVID-19 Advisory Group will help guide the McKee Transition in developing strategies to contain the virus, execute a swift and equitable vaccine rollout at the state and municipal level, support high-risk populations, and continue the safe reopening of businesses and schools. Members of the group will be in close communication with the state’s existing COVID-19 Response Team and will advise the Incoming Governor through the early months of his administration, particularly as it pertains to engagement with municipalities and what’s needed at the local level when the vaccine supply increases. At a later date, the Incoming Governor and the Director of Health, Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH will work to integrate some members of the transition group into existing Rhode Island Department of Health advisory teams.
Transition COVID-19 Advisory Group Membership:
John A. Stoukides, MD, ScD.
John A. Stoukides, MD, ScD. is board certified in Internal Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Quality Assurance and Utilization Review. He is Vice Chairman of the Department of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Roger Williams Medical Center and also serves as Medical Director of Utilization Management for CharterCARE Health Partners. He has been overseeing the COVID-19 vaccination program at CharterCARE hospitals. He received his pharmacy degree from the University of Rhode Island (URI) and medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine along with an Honorary Doctor of Science in Geriatrics from URI in 2005. He serves as a Clinical Professor of Pharmacy at URI, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University and is Associate Professor of Nursing at URI.
Mayor Joseph Polisena, RN
Joseph Polisena, RN has served as Mayor of Johnston for 14 years and is a former state senator, having served for 12 years. Polisena, a longtime nurse and former firefighter, has an associate degree in nursing, a bachelor’s degree in health and social services, and a master’s degree in education. He has taught at the Community College of Rhode Island in the Fire Science EMT Program since 1986. He is currently licensed by the State of Rhode Island as a Registered Nurse and an EMT-C.
Ashish K. Jha, M.D., MPH
Ashish K. Jha, M.D., MPH, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, is recognized globally as an expert on pandemics and pandemic response. He has led groundbreaking research around Ebola and is now on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response, leading national analysis of key issues and advising state and federal policy makers. He comes to the Brown School of Public Health after leading the Harvard Global Health Institute and teaching at Harvard Medical School. He is a general internist who will continue his practice at the Providence VA Medical Center.
Hemi Tewarson, MPH, JD
Hemi Tewarson, MPH, JD, is a Duke-Margolis Visiting Senior Policy Fellow with expertise in state health policy research and analysis, particularly as it relates to state-level COVID-19 response. Tewarson previously served as the director for the Health Division of the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices and as senior attorney in the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Mike Magee, M.D.
Mike Magee, M.D., served for a decade as Vice President for Global Medical Affairs at Pfizer where he regularly interacted with many of the world’s public health leaders and experts. During that time, he was a Senior Fellow at the World Medical Association in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to joining Pfizer, Dr. Magee was an executive in large health care systems including Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts and as Senior Vice President of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. Dr. Magee began his career as a surgeon in Massachusetts.
John R. Morton, MD
John R. Morton, MD is an Obstetrician Gynecologist and Chief of Gynecology at Landmark Medical Center. He has served Rhode Island families throughout the state for the past 18 years, including those in Pawtucket and Woonsocket.
Major General Christopher Callahan
Major General Christopher Callahan serves as the Adjutant General and Commanding General of the Rhode Island National Guard. During the pandemic, General Callahan has managed the activation of over 700 guard members to support Rhode Island’s COVID-19 response. He led the National Guard’s efforts to make Rhode Island’s field hospitals operational and secure. General Callahan also serves on the state’s current COVID-19 Response Team.
Town Manager James R. Tierney
James R. Tierney has served as the Narragansett Town Manager since 2019. He previously served as the chief of operations for the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. Tierney has more than 30 years of experience in public safety having served with the South Kingstown Police Department and subsequent to that, as an Inspector General for the City of New York.
Michael Nina is a Community Health Worker and Marketing Associate at Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island. Michael has been a trusted and reliable leader within the Hispanic community in Providence for many years and continues to advocate for access to quality services and opportunities for Rhode Island’s culturally diverse communities. Nina holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Strategic Leadership Studies.
Town Manager James J. Cunha
James J. Cunha has served as the Barrington Town Manager since 2016. Cunha is a retired U.S. Navy captain who has experience working with municipal governments. He is a member of the Rhode Island Emergency Management Advisory Committee.
Dola Adesina, MSN, RN
Dola Adesina, MSN, RN is a local nurse working to support Rhode Island’s pandemic response. She has been assisting on case investigation, quarantine and infection control education, and COVID-19 supply management. Adesina has worked in both hospital and senior living settings. She holds a Master of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Mayor Frank Picozzi
Frank Picozzi is the newly elected Mayor of Warwick. He previously served as Chairman of the Warwick School Committee after serving several years as a school committee member. Picozzi has a background in small business.
Representing the RI House of Representatives
Lynne Urbani is the Policy Director to the Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Urbani holds a Master of Science in Health Services Administration and worked in healthcare and managed care organizations for over 25 years. She previously served as President/CEO of the Rhode Island Free Clinic.
Senator Bridget Valverde
Representing the RI Senate
Rhode Island State Senator Bridget Valverde represents Senate District 35: East Greenwich, North Kingstown, South Kingstown and Narragansett. She is the Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Humans Services and a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture.
Town Administrator Jamie Hainsworth
Jamie Hainsworth has served as the Town Administrator of Jamestown since 2020. He is a former U.S. Marshal who has had a long career in public safety serving 30 years with the Glocester Police Department. Hainsworth also previously served on the Glocester Town Council.
Robert Walsh, Jr.
Bob Walsh is the Executive Director of the National Education Association Rhode Island, which represents over 12,000 teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty, graduate students and staff, and state and municipal employees. Walsh holds degrees in Political Science and Organizational Behavior and Management from Brown University and has his Master of Science in Labor and Industrial Relations from the University of Rhode Island.
Channavy Chhay is the Executive Director of the Center for Southeast Asians, a local organization which helps Rhode Island’s Southeast Asian community navigate the state's governmental, healthcare, human services, legal, and financial services systems. Throughout the pandemic, Chhay has led outreach and advocacy efforts to support the Southeast Asian community in accessing testing, housing, food and other critical resources.
Joseph A. Andriole
Joseph A. Andriole is the President of the Rhode Island State Association of Firefighters, which represents over 1,400 firefighters and EMS workers within 31 municipal departments throughout the state. He also previously served as the President of Local 1950, International Association of Firefighters and served 22 years within the Johnston Fire Department, achieving the rank of Battalion Chief.
Mayor Roberto DaSilva
Roberto DaSilva has served as Mayor of East Providence since 2019. He previously served the residents East Providence and Pawtucket as a State Representative. DaSilva worked in the Pawtucket Police Department for over 25 years. DaSilva holds a Bachelor of Science in Administration of Justice from Roger Williams University.
M. Teresa Paiva Weed
Teresa Paiva Weed is the President of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island. In 2009, Paiva Weed became the first woman to serve as President of the Rhode Island Senate after nearly 2 decades of service as a State Senator. During her tenure at the State House, she led efforts to address mental health and substance abuse and played a key role in establishing Rhode Island’s health insurance exchange.