Gov. Phil Murphy announced New Jersey’s three representatives on a seven-state Northeast council aimed at restoring the region’s economy and getting people back to work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As previously announced, each state will appoint three people to the council: a health expert, an economic development expert and the governor’s chief of staff.
New Jersey’s appointees are:
- Richard Besser, CEO and president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
- George Helmy, Murphy’s chief of staff;
- Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama.
“No one has given more thought or is more eager to restart our economy than I am, but if we don’t get the sequencing right, we put more lives at risk,” Murphy said in a prepared statement. “The only path to a sustainable economic recovery is through a strong health care recovery. Then, and only then, do we position ourselves to fully ignite our economy and get the residents of our state back to work while minimizing the danger of this disease.
“A coordinated, regional approach, informed by a multistate council of experts, will help us avoid a major setback with potentially disastrous consequences. I look forward to the day when the facts on the ground allow us to ease our restrictions and move our regional economy forward.”
The other members of the council will be:
Connecticut (Gov. Ned Lamont):
- Albert Ko, professor of epidemiology and medicine and department chair, Yale School of Public Health;
- Paul Mounds Jr., chief of staff, Office of the Governor;
- Indra Nooyi, co-chair of nonprofit AdvanceCT and former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo.
Delaware (Gov. John Carney):
- Kurt Foreman, CEO and president, Delaware Prosperity Partnership;
- Sheila Grant, chief of staff, Office of the Governor;
- Kara Odom Walker, secretary, Department of Health and Social Services.
Massachusetts (Gov. Charlie Baker):
- Michael Kennealy, secretary, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development;
- Kristen Lepore, chief of staff, Office of the Governor;
- Lauren Peters, undersecretary, Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
New York (Gov. Andrew Cuomo):
- Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor;
- Michael Dowling, CEO and president, Northwell Health;
- Robert Mujica, director of the New York State Division of the Budget.
Pennsylvania (Gov. Tom Wolf):
- Michael Brunelle, chief of staff, Office of the Governor;
- Dennis Davin, secretary, Department of Community and Economic Development;
- Rachel Levine, secretary, Department of Health.
Rhode Island (Gov. Gina Raimondo):
- Nicole Alexander-Scott, director, Department of Health;
- David Ortiz, chief of staff, Office of the Governor;
- Stefan Pryor, secretary, Department of Commerce.