That of Gov. Elect-elected Shapiro transition team draws on experiences from Democratic and Republican governments

By Peter Hall | Pennsylvania Capital star

Attorney General Josh Shapiro to speak in September 2021.
Credit: Tom Sofield/LevittownNow.com

A former legal partner of Governor-elect Josh Shapiro, who has served in both Democratic and Republican governorships, will lead Shapiro’s transition team.

Shapiro announced Tuesday that William R. Sasso, a GOP broker and former chairman of the Stradley Ronon law firm in Philadelphia, will chair the new administration’s 11-member Transitional Leadership Committee

It includes representatives from organized labor, industry and the public health sector to prepare to advance Shapiro’s priorities of growing the state economy, improving public safety and expanding public education opportunities.

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The elected Lt. gov. Austin Davis becomes chairman of the transition’s personnel committee, which includes a bipartisan group of union, business and community leaders.

Sasso recently resigned as chairman of Stradley Ronon, the Philadelphia law firm where Shapiro worked early in his career, and remains chairman emeritus. After his election as attorney general in 2016, he also served as senior counsel for Shapiro’s transition team.

A contributor to Republican and Democratic campaigns, Sasso held appointments from Gov. Tom Wolf to the board of Independence Blue Cross and from former Gov. Tom Corbett as commissioner of the Delaware River Port Authority and chairman of the Pennsylvania Investment and Redevelopment Authority.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell said Shapiro’s choice of Sasso and others who have worked with Shapiro in his previous elected offices gave confidence in their judgment. Others in Rendell’s administration, including government relations adviser Steven Crawford, who was Rendell’s chief of staff, and Susan Jacobson, a deputy chief of staff, have a background of working with Shapiro, Rendell said.

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“You won’t be able to read all the policy papers and do all the interviews, so you have to have complete trust in your team,” Rendell said.

Political observers said that Shapiro’s decisions signal openness and a desire to work together.

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“It obviously sends a very strong and genuine message that he wants to get things done,” said TJ Rooney, a former chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. “In order to govern effectively, you need a broad-based coalition like that.”

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Rooney and others said they weren’t surprised to see James Schultz, who served as Assistant White House Counsel under President Donald Trump, on the team. Schultz served in that capacity for less than a year and was also general counsel to Corbett.

“I see him the same as a lot of other people who have served in the Trump administration and have often called when things got too far,” Rooney said. “I don’t blame anyone who genuinely wants to serve.”

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Involving people from both sides of the aisle gives a new governor the advantage of broad experience and diverse viewpoints, said Larry Ceisler, a Philadelphia-based public affairs adviser.

“With experience comes the ability to avoid making mistakes or seeing problems or questions recur that have already been answered,” Ceisler said. “You certainly want to reinvent the wheel, but you don’t have to reinvent the whole wheel.”

Leslie Gromis Baker, who served as Corbett’s chief of staff, said the team appears well-rounded and includes representatives from parties likely to have political interests in the new government.

“It speaks to how he’s reigned in previous roles in the past and how he’s run his campaign that he’s going to be open and inclusive,” Gromis Baker said. “Regardless of your ideology, he wants to work with those who have the best ideas to move Pennsylvania forward.”

In a statement Tuesday, Shapiro’s office said that after the Thanksgiving holiday, the transition team will announce advisory committees made up of policy experts, community advocates and business, industry and labor leaders.

The members of the Transitional Board are:

  • William Sasso, Chairman Emeritus of Stradley Ronon
  • Ryan Boyer, executive director of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Gregory E. Deavens, President and CEO of Independence Health Group
  • Angela Ferritto, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO
  • Thomas B. Hagen, Chairman of the Erie Indemnity Company, former Pennsylvania Secretary of Commerce and Secretary of Community and Economic Development under Governor Tom Ridge
  • Laura Karet, CEO of Giant Eagle and chair of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development
  • Jannie K. Lau, attorney and retired technology executive
  • Charisse Lillie, CEO of CRL Consulting, Former Assistant United States Attorney, Attorney for the City of Philadelphia
  • Neil T. O’Donnell, Founder of the O’Donnell Law Firm
  • Michelle Singer, senior vice president at Comcast
  • Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene, retired

The members of the Transitional Staff Committee are:

  • Chairman Austin Davis, Lt. Gov-elect
  • Curtis Aiken, President, CEO and Founder of ProTech Compliance
  • Madeline Bell, President and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Norman Bristol Colón, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, Founder and Chair of the Pennsylvania Latino Convention
  • Steven Crawford, President and Partner at Wojdak Government Relations, former Secretary for Legislative Affairs and Governor Ed Rendell’s chief of staff
  • Robert Fox, Managing Partner at Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox, Past Chair of the Lower Merion Environmental Advisory Council, Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board
  • J. David Henderson, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 13
  • Joseph Hill, senior partner at Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies
  • Susan Jacobson, President of Jacobson Strategic Communications, Former Deputy Chief of Staff to Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell
  • Farnam Jahanian, President of Carnegie Mellon University
  • Jerry Johnson, President and CEO of Axum Advisors
  • Kevin Kinross, consultant at The Carey Group, former chief of staff to Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and former special assistant to Gov. Ed Rendell
  • Ben Kirshner, Former Founder, Chairman and CEO of Tinuiti
  • Lauren Lambrugo, chief operating officer of Public Health Management Corporation
  • Jennifer Liptak, Chief of Staff to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald
  • Leslie Anne Miller, attorney and former Pennsylvania Counsel under Governor Ed Rendell
  • Marshall Mitchell, senior pastor of the Salem Baptist Church of Abington, former chief of staff to US Representative Floyd Flake
  • Joseph Neubauer, former CEO of Aramark
  • James D. Schultz, a partner at Holland & Knight, former General Counsel to Governor Tom Corbett and Assistant White House Counsel to President Donald Trump
  • Judith M. von Seldeneck, Founder and Chair of the Diversified Search Group
  • Andréa Stanford, Vice President, Pittsburgh Regional Manager at BNY Mellon, former Allegheny County Assistant District Manager and Senior Advisor to the Allegheny County Department of Human Services
  • Nathaniel Yap, former director at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts

Cozen O’Connor’s Mira Baylson, Tracey McCants Lewis, associate general counsel and chief of human resources for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and David Nasatir, chairman of Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, will serve as legal counsel on the transition.

Roy Temple, former executive director of Wolf’s transition team, and Rob Ghormoz, senior advisor to Wolf and co-executive director of his inauguration, will serve as senior advisors to the Shapiro transition team.

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