Former N.S. administrator named to new governor’s senior staff

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PROVIDENCE – Former North Smithfield Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton has been named director of municipal affairs for Gov. Daniel McKee, in a list announced after the state’s new leader took the oath of office on Tuesday, March 2.

McKee, Rhode Island’s 76th governor, will fill the two years remaining in former Gov. Gina Raimondo’s term, as she moves on to a position as commerce secretary for President Joe Biden. The 69-year-old Democrat and former Cumberland mayor was halfway through his second term as lieutenant governor when he was taped for the state’s highest office.

Hamilton served in North Smithfield government from 2008 to 2016, when she opted not to seek a fifth term. She has since served as policy advisor and then deputy chief of staff for McKee.

Other names on the governor’s list of senior staff members that may be familiar to northern Rhode Island residents include Brenna McCabe, a former Valley Breeze reporter for the Woonsocket/North Smithfield edition, who will serve as senior advisor to McKee; and Jonathan Bissonnette, former reporter for The Pawtucket Times and The Call, who was named staff writer and content manager.

On Tuesday, McKee,  who has already declared his intention to run for a full four-year term in the governor’s office in 2022, signed an executive order binding his new administration, “to the highest ethical standards.”

It is not yet clear what Hamilton will do in her new role as director of municipal affairs. The position did not exist in the previous administration, and Hamilton herself said she was still in communication about details of the job on Wednesday. Her prior experience includes time as an instructor and corporate trainer at Bryant University’s Center for Executive Development from 1999-2010, and she has been an active participant in the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns and the Rhode Island Coalition of Municipal Leaders.

Locally, she was recently named vice chairperson of North Smithfield’s new Democratic Town Committee, and served as moderator for NRI NOW‘s candidate forums, held prior to the election in November.

She and the new governor have also both shown support for charter schools, an issue that put her at odds with some North Smithfield residents during her time as administrator. Hamilton took a leadership role with RISE Prep Mayoral Academy, a charter school serving students from Woonsocket, North Smithfield and Burrillville, a decision leading some school supporters to start a petition for her recall.

McKee is expected to hold a formal inauguration ceremony at noon on Sunday, March 7 at the State House.

Below is the list of additional senior staff members named to McKee’s administration this week.

  •  Tony Silvia Chief of Staff
  • Christopher Abhulime, Deputy Chief of Staff
  • Antonio Afonso, Senior Deputy Chief of Staff
  • Kim Ahern, Policy Director and Senior Counsel
  • Suzanne Augenstein, Director of Executive Operations
  • Guerline Aurelus, Director of Constituent Services
  • David Barricelli Jr., Constituent Services Associate
  • Joseph Casoli, Governor’s Office Liaison
  • Cheyenne Cazeault, Policy Advisor
  • Alana Cerrone-O’Hare, Press Secretary
  • Eileen Cheng, Deputy Counsel
  • Tara Chicharro, Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff
  • Rosa DeCastillo, Director of Community Affairs and Outreach
  • Ronald Desiderato, Special Assistant to the Governor
  • Tabatha Dube, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff
  • Craig Dwyer, Manager of Appointments
  • Christopher Farrell, Senior Advisor to the Governor
  • Kevin Horan, Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Corey Jones, Policy Advisor
  • Lexi Kriss, Deputy Director of Communications
  • Christine Lopes Metcalfe, Senior Advisor to the Governor on Education
  • Meredith McKenna, Legal Administrator
  • Thomas Mullaney, Senior Advisor
  • Andrea Palagi, Director of Communications
  • Joseph Polisena Jr., Deputy Counsel on Policy
  • Claire Richards, Executive Counsel
  • Becky Rodrigues, Office Manager
  • Victoria Scott, Policy Advisor
  • Anthony Silva, Chief of Staff
  • Joy Vaudreuil, Director of Scheduling
  • Americo Vota, Deputy Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs
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