Governor McKee Sends Cabinet Names to Senate for Advice and Consent

 Governor McKee Sends Cabinet Names to Senate for Advice and Consent
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PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee today sent the following cabinet names for advice and consent to the Rhode Island Senate:
Peter Alviti Jr., Director, Rhode Island Department of Transportation
Peter Alviti joined RIDOT in 2015 and quickly worked with the Governor, the legislature, and Rhode Island’s congressional delegation to create RhodeWorks, a plan to sustainably fund the state’s transportation system and to make long overdue improvements to the roads and bridges we travel on each and every day. The progress made to-date has been outstanding, and commuters are hard pressed to travel anywhere in the state without seeing construction activities creating our new transportation system. During the last 8 years, RIDOT has completed hundreds of transportation projects with a total investment of $3.2 billion, including the reconstruction of 244 deficient bridges and with another 136 bridge projects currently underway.
Safety is RIDOT’s highest priority, and under Director Alviti’s leadership the agency has developed a 10-year safety plan and invested millions of dollars into both public education campaigns and engineered safety improvements that have reduced injury and death on our highways. RIDOT has also funded a State Police task force dedicated to impaired driving enforcement which has led to 1,700 arrests, 13,000 citations and $1.6 million in fines.
“I thank the Governor for putting his trust in me and my RIDOT team and I look forward to working with him to assure the successful implementation of the transportation and climate initiatives in his RI 2030 plan,” said Director Alviti. “We will work to improve our data-driven approach to creating a safe and resilient infrastructure while transforming our roads, bridges, bike paths, sidewalks, rail and transit operations into the modern transportation system and economic engine that all Rhode Islanders deserve.”
“During the last eight years under the leadership of Director Alviti, the RIDOT team he created has modernized the department by implementing new management structure, improved project financing and planning, instituted accountability and transparency policies, and has built multi-billion dollars of improvements to our state’s transportation infrastructure,” said Governor McKee. “I look forward to having him continue the momentum and help bring about the same success for our RI 2030 plan.”
Richard Charest, Director, Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals
Richard Charest’s career as a healthcare executive spans more than 25 years and includes leading not-for-profit and for-profit community hospitals, as well as a private equity healthcare company. These experiences have provided him with a diverse management background and extensive turn-around experience. Following a successful career, which included the turnaround of Landmark Medical Center from insolvency in 2014, Charest retired in 2017. In 2021, Governor McKee approached him with an offer to lead BHDDH.
Wanting to give back, Charest accepted and was confirmed by the State Senate in June 2021. Under Director Charest’s leadership, BHDDH’s two biggest accomplishments have been:
  • Opening the Rhode Island State Psychiatric Hospital, which has taken over the care of court-ordered forensic patients and better positions the state to care for these patients.
  • Opening this new hospital also better positions Eleanor Slater Hospital to seek federal matches that support patient care. Participating in a successful review of Eleanor Slater Hospital by The Joint Commission, which accredited the hospital for three years. Simultaneous to this, Eleanor Slater Hospital successfully addressed concerns raised by CMS in areas of life safety, physical environment, nursing services and patient rights.
“I am honored to be nominated by Governor McKee to continue serving as Director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals,” Director Charest said. “We have accomplished a great deal during the past 19 months and there is still work to do. I am grateful for the support of the Governor, state lawmakers, and other state agencies, as well as the dedication and hard work of all our employees at BHDDH.
“It is with great pleasure that I nominate Richard Charest to continue serving as Director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals,” Governor McKee said. “In the 19 months since his arrival, Director Charest has accomplished a great deal, including the opening of a new state hospital and ensuring that Eleanor Slater Hospital is on a positive track. We are fortunate to have him in this role.
Terrence Gray, Director, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
In Terrence Gray’s 19 months at the helm and in his capacity as chair of the RI Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council, DEM helped meet community engagement priorities and advance toward carbon reduction mandates codified by the Act on Climate, updated the state GHG emission reduction plan, and hired an employee focused on climate justice. As well, the agency successfully launched new and improved state freshwater wetlands rules, secured continuity of funding for key environmental protection and community grant programs by promoting the 2022 green bond, quickly stood up programs to administer two rounds of federal COVID-related disaster relief to help stabilize the commercial fishing industry, and led the state’s response to a virulent bird flu that has been confirmed in more than 45 states, killing over 50 million domestic birds.
A registered professional engineer, Gray has worked at DEM for the whole of his 36-year career. He is a lifelong Rhode Islander who grew up on the shores of Narragansett Bay in the Gaspee Plateau neighborhood of Warwick. He entered state service in 1987 as a hazardous waste program engineer and rose through the agency’s ranks becoming chief of the Division of Site Remediation in 1993, chief of the Office of Waste Management in 1996, assistant director for Air, Waste, and Compliance in 1999, associate director for Environmental Protection in 2012, and deputy director for Environmental Protection in 2018.
“DEM has a broad mission spanning natural resource stewardship, environmental protection, agriculture, forestry, and fishing that affects all Rhode Islanders,” Director Gray said. “Every day, I am mindful of the fact that our constituents are depending on us. We have much work ahead of us, particularly on meeting Act on Climate mandates and deadlines, but we are ready for the challenge. I look forward to working with DEM employees, our partners in other state and municipal agencies, and public stakeholders to accomplish it. And I look forward to meeting with Senators to articulate why I am ready to continue my service in this role.”
“Terry Gray has dedicated his career to public service and protecting Rhode Island’s treasured natural resources. He has shown steady, progressive leadership as DEM director as he did beforehand as acting director since June of 2021,” said Governor McKee. “His continued leadership will advance our shared goals of tackling the climate crisis, building stronger relationships to address issues related to environmental justice, and investing in open space and natural amenities in our 39 cities and towns. I am proud to submit Terry’s name to the Senate for Advice and Consent.”
Elizabeth Tanner, Secretary of Commerce, Rhode Island Commerce
Elizabeth Tanner was appointed Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce in June 2022, under Governor Daniel McKee. In her role, Secretary Tanner administers the Executive Office of Commerce, the state agency charged with promoting commerce and fostering an economic environment in which Rhode Island’s businesses can grow and prosper. To accomplish this goal, Secretary Tanner oversees multiple state departments, divisions, and quasi-governmental agencies, including the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, the Quonset Development Corporation, the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, and the I-195 Redevelopment Commission.
Prior to her appointment as Secretary of Commerce, Liz served as Director of the Department of Business Regulation, under Governor Gina Raimondo. She oversaw the regulating and enforcement of all Financial Services, the Office of the State Fire Marshal (including the RI Bomb Squad), the State Building Office, the Office of Cannabis Regulation, Gaming and Athletics and a wide variety of professional licenses.
“Rhode Island’s economy has incredible momentum, and it has been a privilege to serve as Rhode Island’s Secretary of Commerce for these last eight months. I am energized by the work we’re doing and all the work that lies ahead of us,” said Secretary Tanner. “From making it easier to do business in Rhode Island, to growing our industrial base at Quonset, to breathing new life into the Superman Building, to helping transition our small businesses into a post-pandemic world, opportunities for economic development are everywhere. I thank Governor McKee for the continued opportunity to serve the people of Rhode Island, and I look forward to a productive confirmation process in the Senate.”
“Secretary Tanner has capably handled the transition into her new role and hit the ground running. My administration is laser-focused on continuing Rhode Island’s momentum as the fastest-recovering state in New England from the COVID-19 pandemic, and Liz is a key player in our continued economic development,” said Governor McKee. “She has dedicated much of her career making it easier to do business in the Ocean State, and she shares my vision for a stronger, bolder Rhode Island. I’m grateful to the Senate for considering her nomination.”
James E. Thorsen, Director, Department of Administration
Prior to his appointment as Director of Administration, Thorsen served as Director of the Department of Revenue. Thorsen also served as a Budget Advisor for the U.S. Department of Treasury, advising developing democracies in best financial practices. He was previously Deputy Director/Chief Financial Officer of HSRI, Rhode Island’s health insurance exchange, where he was responsible for developing and operating the organization’s budget.
In addition to a 16-year tenure at State Street Global Advisors in public pension management, Thorsen served as Deputy Treasurer for Finance in the Rhode Island Office of the General Treasurer. Thorsen has also served as a member of the Public Finance Management Board, Tobacco Settlement Board and State Investment Commission. Thorsen received an MBA in Finance from the University of North Carolina and a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from Boston College, and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.
“As a Rhode Islander, I am committed to modernizing our state systems so that they serve our community effectively, responsively, and compassionately,” Director Thorsen said.
“Jim Thorsen’s strong history of public service, combined with his business experience and know-how, make him the right person to continue leading the RI Department of Administration,” Governor McKee said.
Col. Darnell S. Weaver, Superintendent, Rhode Island State Police and Director, Rhode Island Department of Public Safety
Colonel Darnell S. Weaver, a 28-year veteran of the Rhode Island State Police, serves as the Deputy Superintendent and Chief of Field Operations. Colonel Weaver oversees and is responsible for the Patrol Bureau, Detective Bureau, Division specialty units, Administrative Bureau, and Department of Public Safety. The Patrol Bureau includes the District “A” and District “B” Patrols, as well as Emergency Response and Service Units, and Governor’s Executive Security Detail. The Detective Bureau includes Cyber Crimes/Fusion Center/JCTF, Narcotics/High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA), Violent Fugitive Task Force (VFTF), Gaming Enforcement, Special Victims Unit, and other specialized investigative units. The Administrative Bureau includes the Central Management Office, Management Information Systems, Fleet/Supply, Technology and Communications, NCIC/RILETS, and Capital Project Unit. The Department of Public Safety includes the Capitol Police, Division of Sheriffs, E-911 Uniform Emergency Telephone Systems and personnel, Public Safety Grants Administration Office, Division Training Academy, and Municipal Training Academy.
Colonel Weaver served at all barracks as a member of the Uniform Bureau. His previous assignments include Night Executive Officer and Assistant Patrol Commander of both Hope Valley and Wickford Barracks. He was a member of the Honor Guard Unit and served as a Field Training Officer as well as the District “A” Commander. He was the officer-in-charge of the State Police Training Academy and Commandant of the 2016 Rhode Island State Police Recruit Training Academy class. He later served as the Director of Training and oversaw the daily operations of the Division Training Academy, and Municipal Training Academy. Most recently, he was the Uniform Bureau Commander and was responsible for uniform troopers throughout Rhode Island.
“Serving our state as Superintendent of the State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety is an honor and a privilege and I thank Governor McKee for this opportunity,” said Colonel Weaver. “I look forward to continuing to lead the men and women of the Rhode Island State Police while overseeing Rhode Island’s public safety operations and infrastructure.”
“Colonel Weaver has proven himself to be a steady and innovative leader at the Rhode Island State Police and the Department of Public Safety,” said Governor McKee. “I’m thrilled that he will continue to put his considerable public safety expertise to work for our administration and our state.”
Matthew D. Weldon, Director, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training
Matthew D. Weldon has served as the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training since April 27, 2021. He has been in state service for more than 20 years, and in that time has worked in each branch of state government. Weldon has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Rhode Island.
Since becoming Director, he has led the Department as the state has seen historic lows in unemployment and has emphasized the importance of providing high quality services to job seekers, workers, and employers. Director Weldon established the first-ever Office of Community Engagement at the Department, making equity, inclusion, and accessibility among the most important goals for the agency. Additionally, he oversaw a renewed investment in the Department’s workforce training initiatives, and implemented a fair and balanced approach to labor law enforcement, ensuring workers receive the compensation they deserve, while also creating a level playing field for law-abiding employers.
“It’s an honor to be appointed by Governor McKee to continue to serve the people of Rhode Island as Director of the Department of Labor and Training. It has been a privilege to be in this role as our state has navigated the transition out of the pandemic, and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue our important work,” Director Weldon said. “The Governor has set ambitious goals for this Department; our job is to create new economic opportunities for Rhode Island workers, ensure a level playing field for our employers, and provide the highest quality experience for the folks who use our services. I look forward to continuing to work alongside the great team at the Department in accomplishing this mission.”
“Director Weldon stepped up at a critical moment and provided steady, hands-on leadership, guiding the Department of Labor and Training as the state emerged from unprecedented circumstances,” Governor McKee said. “He brings a people-focused approach to the work of the Department and a personal commitment to providing the best possible service to all Rhode Islanders. I am confident that he will be an effective leader as we continue to grow our economy, increase jobs, and create new economic opportunities for Rhode Island families.”

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