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McKee names COVID-19 Advisory Group

The 20-member team will be led by Dr. John A. Stoukides and Johnston Mayor Joseph M. Polisena and will include Dr. Ashish Jha

Lieutenant Governor Daniel J. McKee.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE — As he prepares to step in as governor, Lieutenant Governor Daniel J. McKee on Wednesday announced a Transition COVID-19 Advisory Group led by Dr. John A. Stoukides, who has overseen COVID-19 vaccinations at CharterCARE hospitals, and Johnston Mayor Joseph M. Polisena, a registered nurse.

The advisory group includes Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, an expert on pandemic response.

The state already has a COVID-19 response team, but the advisory group plans to stay in communication with that team while advising McKee at the outset of his administration. The 20-member group will advise McKee on the state’s pandemic response and vaccine rollout, and it will be particularly focused on working with cities and towns and what they need as the vaccine supply increases.


McKee is a former Cumberland mayor, and in addition to Polisena, the team includes Warwick Mayor Frank Picozzi, East Providence Mayor Roberto DaSilva, Jamestown Town Administrator Jamie Hainsworth, Barrington Town Manager James J. Cunha, and Narragansett Town Manager James R. Tierney.

“Our transition is laser-focused on the COVID-19 response and vaccine rollout, " McKee said in a statement. “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.”

Stoukides noted that President Joe Biden has promised 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office. “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,” he said.

Polisena said the advisory group will work with 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.”


The team includes:

  • Hemi Tewarson, 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.
  • Dr. Mike Magee, who served for a decade as vice president for global medical affairs at Pfizer.
  • Dr. John R. Morton, an obstetrician gynecologist and chief of gynecology at Landmark Medical Center.
  • Major General Christopher Callahan, the adjutant general of the Rhode Island National Guard.
  • Michael Nina, a community health worker and marketing associate at Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island.
  • Dola Adesina, a local nurse working to support Rhode Island’s pandemic response.
  • Lynne Urbani, policy director to House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and former president and CEO of the Rhode Island Free Clinic.
  • State Senator Bridget Valverde, an East Greenwich Democrat who is vice chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.
  • Robert A. Walsh Jr., executive director of the National Education Association Rhode Island.
  • Channavy Chhay, executive director of the Center for Southeast Asians.
  • Joseph A. Andriole, president of the Rhode Island State Association of Firefighters.
  • M. Teresa Paiva Weed, president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island and the first woman to serve as state Senate President.

McKee said that at a later date, he and Health Department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott will work to integrate some members of the transition group into existing Health Department advisory teams.

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at Follow him @FitzProv.