PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Brett Smiley, the presumed mayor-elect of Providence who won the Democratic primary last month and is unopposed in November, has named three dozen people to his transition team as he prepares to take over from Jorge Elorza in January.
The transition team is also starting to accept applications from those who want to serve in the Smiley administration.
The four co-chairs of the group, who will help Smiley form his leadership team, are Dr. Omar Bah, Victor Capellan, Cathy Lund and Tiana Ochoa.
Bah, the founder of the Refugee Dream Center, recently ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by Jim Langevin. Capellan was most recently the senior advisor to Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. Lund is the founder of City Kitty Veterinary Care for Cats, and Ochoa is a leader of Head Start at Children’s Friend, a Providence nonprofit.
“The co-chairs will work to guide the transition process and work with Brett and staff to build a diverse leadership team and review current structures and workflows across the city,” spokesperson Emily Crowell wrote in a news release announcing the new team.
Crowell, a former top Elorza staffer who helped run Smiley’s mayoral campaign, was named executive director of the transition.
The 28 additional transition committee members include multiple former city employees, community leaders, business owners, lobbyists, politicians and policy experts. (No current city employees or elected officials are on the list.)
The list includes Michael Solomon, the former City Council president who dropped out of the mayoral race to endorse Smiley; Ron Coia, the business manager for the Local 1033 union that represents city employees; and former Raimondo cabinet member Courtney Hawkins, who served as Rhode Island’s Department of Human Services director at the same time Smiley worked for the former governor. (The full list of members is below.)
For people who want to serve in the Smiley administration, the transition team has launched a new website where people can submit resumes and cover letters by Nov. 1, or for board and commissions by Dec. 1.
Crowell said current top city staffers including directors, deputy directors and mayor’s office staff will need to submit resumes if they want to continue serving in the next administration.
“Interviews will be held with folks that do to discuss their goals professionally and for the next administration,” Crowell said.
In addition to Crowell, Smiley named two other paid staffers for the transition: Michael Napolitano, who will be deputy director, and Shastery Gonzalez Peña as executive assistant.
“Over the past few weeks, we have received an outpouring of support for our campaign and for the work ahead,” Smiley said in a statement. “We are excited to announce our Transition Co-chairs and our Transition Committee that represent a diverse group of community members, experts and business owners who will help make Providence the best-run city in the country.
“During the next few months, we will work together to build an incredible team and be ready to lead on Jan. 2,” Smiley added.
Smiley is able to get a head start on preparing to take office since there are no other candidates running for mayor in the Nov. 8 election. He won a three-way Democratic primary in September with 42% of the vote over Gonzalo Cuervo and City Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune.
Elorza, who is term-limited, endorsed Cuervo but has pledged to work with Smiley cooperatively during the transition of power.
Below are the members of Smiley’s transition committee:
- Vicki Almeida
- Napoleon Askie
- Sybil Bailey
- Beth Bixby
- Deborah Brayton
- Frank Cabrera
- Channavy Chhay
- Nick Cicchitelli
- Ron Coia
- Jordan Day
- Carlos Diaz
- Jenn Fondeur
- PJ Fox
- Ramon Guzman
- Courtney Hawkins
- Melissa Hughes
- Leah Metts Williams
- Pilar McCloud
- Arnell Millhouse
- Tania Quezada
- Anthony Santurri
- Bianca Rodriguez Slater
- Jenn Steinfeld
- Tony Simon
- Michael Solomon
- Allen Williams
- Cliff Wood
- Georgina Weeks