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Incoming R.I. secretary of state Amore names senior leadership and transition teams

LeeAnn Byrne will serve as chief of staff, former Representative Shelby Maldonado and Rob Rock will become deputy secretaries of state

State Representative Gregg M. Amore, an East Providence Democrat, has named his transition team as incoming Rhode Island secretary of state.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island’s incoming secretary of state, state Representative Gregg M. Amore, on Monday announced his senior leadership and transition teams as he prepares to take over for outgoing Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea.

Amore, an East Providence Democrat, swept to victory in the Nov. 8 election, defeating Republican Pat V. Cortellessa, 59.5 percent to 40.3 percent, and he will be sworn in Jan. 3.

“John Quincy Adams once said, ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader,’ ” Amore said in a statement. “This is what comes to mind when I look at the team we have assembled to serve as the Rhode Island Department of State’s senior leadership staff. They each bring a breadth of experience and professionalism that is incredibly impressive, and I am looking forward to working with them.”


Amore said his State House team will be led by LeeAnn Byrne, who will serve as chief of staff. She is now deputy chief of staff for General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, who has been elected to Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District seat.

Before working for Magaziner, Byrne worked at the Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness for more than six years. She received a master’s degree in social work from Rhode Island College and a bachelor’s degree in social work from Providence College.

Former state Representative Shelby Maldonado, a Central Falls Democrat, will become deputy secretary of state and director of operations. She served in the House from 2015 to 2019 and was co-chair of the Rhode Island Black and Latino Legislative Caucus.

Maldonado received a bachelor’s degree in political science and communication studies from the University of Rhode Island and a law degree from the Roger Williams University School of Law.


Rob Rock, who now works as director of elections, will become deputy secretary of state and director of administration.

Rock began working at the Department of State as an intern in the summer of 2005 and served as an elections assistant from 2005 to 2013, when he left to be the Richmond town administrator. In 2015, he returned to serve as Gorbea’s director of elections. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Rhode Island.

The new director of elections will be Kathy Placencia, now Providence’s administrator of elections.

Michelle Arias Santabay will serve as Amore’s director of intergovernmental affairs. She most recently served as Attorney General Peter F. Neronha’s campaign manager and was executive assistant to the attorney general.

Faith Chadwick will be the director of communications. She now serves as director of communications for Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza.

Eileen Sweeney will be director of community outreach and engagement. She previously served as an advisory member of Governor Daniel J. McKee’s equity and justice transition team and his budget transition team, and she is clerk of the diversity committee at Moses Brown School.

Amore’s transition team will be headed by Erich Haslehurst, his campaign manager and senior adviser. The transition team co-chairs will be Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera, the state’s first Latina mayor, and state Representative John J. Lombardi, a Providence Democrat who served on the Providence City Council for more than 26 years.

Amore thanked Gorbea, who was term limited and finished third in September’s Democratic primary for governor.


“Secretary Gorbea and her team have put together a comprehensive set of documents to help guide us through the transition process and they have proven invaluable,” he said in a statement. “I thank her for her commitment to democracy and her entire team for their professionalism.”

Rivera and Lombardi said they did not hesitate to co-chair the transition team.

“Gregg is someone who really listens to people in order to understand their perspectives,” they said. “We are proud to chair this group and look forward to working with the secretary-elect and the entire transition committee.”

The transition committee will consist of four teams that will focus on specific aspects of the Department of State.

“I really wanted to be thoughtful and intentional about the work that will go into this transition process,” Amore said. “When we started thinking about who might serve on this team, I never thought that everyone would say yes. I am so proud to know each of these individuals and so thankful they have agreed to serve. They each bring a different experience and perspective to the table and I am looking forward to seeing the result of what I know will be fruitful work.”

Elections Division Transition Team:

Melissa Cordeiro, Bristol town clerk

Jim Vincent, Providence NAACP

State Senator Dawn Euer, a Newport Democrat

State Representative Grace Diaz, a Providence Democrat

Zack Mezera, organizing director of the Rhode Island Working Families Party


Kasim Yarn, director of Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services

Civics Education Transition Team:

Chanda Womack, founding executive director of the Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education

Ryan Lukowicz, youth advocate, podcast host, high school student

Richard Martin, retired civics teacher, current Rhode Island College student teacher adviser

Theresa Moore, professor at Providence College, film maker, former Coca-Cola and ESPN marketing executive

Mary Barden, executive director of National Education Association Rhode Island

Business Services Division Transition Team:

Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce

Oscar Mejias, CEO of Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Erin Donovan-Boyle, executive director of Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce

Lisa Ranglin, president and CEO of Rhode Island Black Business Association

Stephanie Federico, vice president, public and government affairs, for Cox Communications

Stephen J. Carlotti, partner in Hinckley Allen & Snyder law firm

Dylan Conley, attorney in Law Office of William J. Conley Jr.

Steve Elmasian, retired fiscal manager/human resources for Rhode Island Department of State

Museum and Archives Transition Team:

Gregory Bowman, dean of the Roger Williams University School of Law

Ray Rickman, executive director of Stages of Freedom, former deputy secretary of state

Charles Roberts, founder of Rhode Island Slave History Medallions

C. Morgan Grefe, executive director of Rhode Island Historical Society

Sam Bradner, partner in Peregrine Group

Kathryn Crowley, retired superintendent of East Providence Public Schools

Karen Hazard, Rhode Island Judicial, Professional and Technical Employees Local 808

David Langlais, Ironworkers Local 37

The transition teams are expected to meet throughout the month of December and to complete a final report in January.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.