Press Releases


Governor Lincoln D. Chafee Announces Staffing Changes

Providence, RI – Governor Lincoln D. Chafee today announced a number of staffing changes.

Jamia McDonald, formerly Deputy Chief of Staff and the Governor's liaison to the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), will join RIEMA permanently as the agency's Executive Director. In that role, she will work to expand the agency's capabilities and lead interagency collaboration for preparedness activities. Since April, McDonald has been conducting a thorough evaluation of the agency's operations. Given her observations and the high frequency of severe weather events in recent years, the Governor made the decision to ask her to serve at RIEMA on a permanent basis.

Deputy Communications Director & Chief Speechwriter Christian Vareika will be leaving the Chafee Administration to attend law school. Vareika, who previously served as Campaign Coordinator on the successful Chafee for Governor campaign, will remain in the Governor's office as Special Assistant to the Governor until August to support the staffing transitions and assist with preparations for the upcoming National Governor's Association summer meeting. Communications Associate James Alvarez, who joined the administration in July of last year, will also be leaving in August to pursue a career in the U.S. Army.

Jonathan Stevens, formerly Assistant to the Governor for Special Projects, will serve as Senior Advisor to the Governor and Director of Special Projects.

Governor Chafee also announced a number of additions to his communications office. Longtime journalist and communications professional Faye Zuckerman, who most recently served as Communications Director for Rhode Island Housing, will serve as Deputy Communications Director, while journalist and author Alexander Heffner will serve as New Media Associate. Kyrie Perry, a recent Roger Williams University graduate, and Nancy Lavin, a recent University of Rhode Island graduate, will join the Governor's staff as Communications Associates.

Jamia McDonald (Executive Director, RIEMA)

Jamia McDonald served most recently as Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Chafee, the same role she held under former Governor Donald Carcieri.

Previously, McDonald served as Director of the Governor's Office of Economic Recovery and Reinvestment, as Chief of Staff of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and as Director of Business & Technology for the Springfield, MA Police Department.

Before moving to New England, McDonald held a number of positions in Chicago city government under Mayor Richard Daley, including: Deputy Chief of Staff for Finance and Administration, Mayor's Office; Managing Deputy Commissioner and Acting Commissioner, Department of Buildings; Assistant to the Mayor; and Special Projects Coordinator/Fellowship Director, Mayor's Office. McDonald holds a BA from Western Illinois University and JD from the John Marshall Law School.

Jonathan Stevens (Senior Advisor to the Governor)

Jonathan Stevens most recently served as Governor Chafee's Assistant for Special Projects. In that role, he has directed the Rhode Island 1663 Colonial Charter 350th Anniversary project and planned a new Visitor's Center at the Rhode Island State House. He is also spearheading Governor Chafee's highway beautification program with RIDOT, which by the end of 2013 will have six new murals, newly designed welcome signs on Rhode Island's Interstate highways, and an extensive planting installation north of the Pawtucket S curves on I-95.

Stevens previously served in a number of positions in local, state, and federal government, including stints as Legislative Director in then-Senator Lincoln Chafee's Washington office, Office Director of Senator Chafee's Newport office, Congressional Liaison to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Planning Director for the City of Warwick, Director of Economic Development for the City of Newport, and District Press Secretary for U.S. Representative Claudine Schneider. He held senior staff positions on both of Chafee's campaigns for U.S. Senate, as well as his campaigns for Mayor of Warwick, and was Director of Policy for the Chafee for Governor campaign.

Faye Zuckerman (Deputy Communications Director)

Faye Zuckerman has decades of experience as a journalist and marketing and communications professional. She served for more than 20 years as a reporter and editor for the Providence Journal and for 18 years wrote an opinion column for the New York Times Syndicate.

Zuckerman then embarked on a career in marketing and communications, serving most recently as Communications Director for Rhode Island Housing, a privately funded public purpose corporation that works to ensure that all people who live and work in Rhode Island can afford a healthy, attractive home that meets their needs. Zuckerman has also served as Director of Communications and Spokeswoman for the United Way of Rhode Island, whose mission is to mobilize the caring power of the community to improve the lives of people in need and address the issues Rhode Islanders care most about.

Prior to moving to Rhode Island, Zuckerman began her journalism career in Los Angeles as a general assignment reporter for the L.A. Daily News and Billboard Magazine. She has a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and completed graduate studies in journalism at California State University, Northridge.

Alexander Heffner (New Media Associate)

Alexander Heffner is a journalist and civic educator who has reported extensively on the youth vote and the political engagement of young voters. Most recently, he was a special correspondent for PBS's Need to Know, crisscrossing the nation in search of the Millennial vote in 2012.

He founded and edited SCOOP08 and SCOOP44, the first-ever online national student newspapers covering the 2008 presidential campaign and the first year of the Obama presidency, and taught a civic education and journalism seminar in New York City. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, Newsday and RealClearPolitics, among other leading newspapers and magazines. He has been interviewed about politics, new media and stories in the news by PBS, CNN, C-SPAN and the BBC, among other national and local broadcast venues. He has given talks at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the School of Politics and Economics at Claremont Graduate University, the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, Bryn Mawr College and elsewhere. He is the co-author of A Documentary History of the United States, an anthology employed in college and high school courses. He was the political director for WHRB 95.3 FM and the host and managing editor of The Political Arena with Alexander Heffner, a Sunday afternoon public affairs broadcast.

Heffner is a graduate of Harvard University and Phillips Academy.

Related links

Share this: