Governor Gina Raimondo moved Wednesday to put her imprint on the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, naming six nominees for the panel. Her picks include making Joseph F. Azrack of Little Compton, who owns a real estate-oriented investment/advisory company, chairman of the commission.
Only one of seven previous commissioners, Barrett Bready, will remain after Raimondo's redesign of the commission.
Raimondo's other nominees are as follows:
· Robert C. Davis of South Kingstown
· Elizabeth (Beppie) Huidekoper of Providence
· Melissa Husband of Providence
· Edwin J. Santos of North Kingstown
· Sandra Smith of Providence
The moves come after developer Colin Kane, who had chaired the commission since its inception, resigned last week. Kane had emphasized a market-based approach to developing the land made available by the relocation of I-195, while Raimondo said elected officials should determine a course for the area.
In a statement, Raimondo said, “We’re focused on expanding opportunity and creating jobs for Rhode Island families, and the 195 land can be a key lever to attract businesses and boost economic growth. We are grateful to Colin Kane and the other former commissioners for their public service to the people of Rhode Island, which helped lay the groundwork for our efforts. I want to thank Joe, Bob, Beppie, Melissa, Ed and Sandra for their commitment to this critical project, which has the potential to move our state forward and create real economic opportunities for Rhode Islanders.”
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he recommended Santos among the new picks. A day after Raimondo announced the nominations, her spokeswoman Marie Aberger, following repeated requests, offered this statement on how Raimondo and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza determined the selections:
"The governor received recommendations from both the mayor and the speaker to create this comprehensive list of nominees. They collaborated to put together a group with the diverse experience and expertise needed to attract economic growth to the I-195 land. In particular, the Governor worked closely with the mayor to identify and select Sandra Smith, Beppie Huidekoper, Melissa Husband, and with the Speaker to bring Edwin Santos to the team."
Raimondo's initial statement included this from Elorza: “My administration looks forward to working closely with the commission’s members, Governor Raimondo, the Providence City Council and the General Assembly to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow our economy and build the New Providence.”
Here are bios, provided by the governor's office, of the nominees:
Joseph F. Azrack
Joseph Azrack is the principal owner of Azrack & Company, an investment and advisory firm focused on the real estate industry. Azrack has over 30 years of real estate investment experience and was previously Managing Partner and Chairman of Apollo Global Management’s real estate business. Azrack holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University and a B.S. from Villanova University.
Robert C. Davis
Robert Davis recently retired as a partner of the Boston law firm of Goulston & Storrs where he represented a wide range of clients in real estate projects over a 40 year career. He has represented colleges, schools, retailers, hotel operators and developers in all phases of real estate development. He holds a J.D. from Boston College Law School and an A.B. from Brown University.
Elizabeth (Beppie) Huidekoper
Elizabeth Huidekoper has served as the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration at Brown University since 2002. She is retiring from Brown this month. Previously, she was the Vice President for Finance at Harvard University. Huidekoper received an M.B.A. from Boston University and a B.A. from Bowdoin College.
Melissa Husband serves at the Executive Director of Community Action Partnership of Providence. She has an M.P.A from the University of Rhode Island and a B.S. in Political Science from Roger Williams University.
Edwin J. Santos
Edwin J. Santos is Chairman of the Board of Prospect CharterCARE, LLC, a new, for-profit healthcare joint venture in Rhode Island. He also serves on the boards of Washington Trust Bancorp and Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Company. Santos has 28 years of experience in the financial services industry, most recently as Group Executive Vice President and General Auditor for Citizens Financial Group. Santos received a B.S. from Bryant University.
Sandra Smith brings experience in strategy consulting and business management from her work at the Boston Consulting Group in San Francisco, Charles Schwab, Catalyst Strategies and Recon Strategy. Smith holds an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BASC in Industrial Engineering with honors and a MASC of Industrial Engineering from the University of Toronto.
This post has been updated.