By ARDEN BASTIA While Warwick's Mayor Frank Picozzi may be the new face of City Hall, it's the team behind the scenes that keeps the city running smoothly. Mayor Picozzi's staff addresses a wide range of issues on a day-to-day basis, addressing requests
While Warwick’s Mayor Frank Picozzi may be the new face of City Hall, it’s the team behind the scenes that keeps the city running smoothly.
Mayor Picozzi’s staff addresses a wide range of issues on a day-to-day basis, addressing requests and concerns from City residents as well as assisting with special projects. The staff includes Ella DeFusco, secretary, Beverly Hall, administrative clerk, Susan Ayrassian, chief of staff, Aaron O’Brien Mackisey, office manager, Elizabeth Tufts, press secretary, Betty Ann Smith, director of constituent affairs, and Bruce Keiser, project coordinator.
Call the Mayor’s office with a question or concern and it’s most likely
who has the answer. Smith is the director of constituent affairs and fields the public’s questions all day long. Behind her desk in City Hall office, on a table underneath the window, sits stacks of files, one for each month of the year thus far. The files are collections of constituents’ concerns: When can I get my COVID shot? My street needs to be plowed and sanded. The potholes on this road need to be fixed. “You know, it’s a lot of information that people email you about. It’s not a hard job, but it’s fun. I really enjoy working with people,” said Smith in an interview. “I never realized how much they needed help from me.”
Smith, 69, is a lifelong Warwick resident.
Prior to her position on Mayor Picozzi’s staff, Smith worked on former Mayor Scott Avedisian’s staff in constituent affairs. She then worked at the Pilgrim Senior Center in senior services, along with her husband, who currently works as the center’s transportation planner.
The best part about her job, says Smith, is helping those who need it. “I get thank you notes and emails all the time,” she said.
When she isn’t answering constituent concerns, Smith can be found gardening in her yard.
is a lifelong resident of Warwick. At 23 years old, he is the youngest member of the Mayor’s staff. Mackisey is the Mayor’s administrative aide, which consists of coordinating and keeping the Mayor’s schedule, while also assisting on matters of policy. Mackisey met Mayor Picozzi during the campaign when Mackisey ran for the Ward 9 City Council seat. Mackisey says the best part about his job is helping people, and seeing the results.
Mackisey’s favorite place in Warwick is right on the bay, over by the old Buttonwoods Campgrounds. When he isn’t herding the Mayor from one meeting to the next, Mackisey can be found spending time with family, quahogging, and playing golf.
originally hails from Quincy, MA. She is the press secretary media coordinator for Mayor Picozzi. Tufts may not field constituent calls, but she does work closely with the community through social media posts and special projects highlighting the city through videos and stories. Tufts met the Mayor while she was working at ABC 6 and did news coverage of Picozzi’s Christmas lights display.
Tufts says the best part of her job is “telling stories to the residents of Warwick, and having the best boss in the world.”
When she isn’t in her favorite place in Warwick, City Hall, Tufts can be found hanging with family or hitting golf balls.
, 70, is originally from Pottsville, PA, and now serves as planning director and project coordinator on the Mayor’s staff. He primarily works on issues related to commercial and residential real estate development. The best part about the job, said Keiser, is “working with a variety of interesting people to protect and improve the quality of life for City residents.”
Keiser was on a sailing trip from Rhode Island to the Virgin Islands last November when he got a call from the Mayor’s transition team asking him to join the staff. Keiser says Peter Ruggeiro, former city solicitor, roped him into the job.
When not in the office, Keiser can be found outside—sailing, hiking, cycling, and visiting his favorite place in the city, Rocky Point Park.
, 56, serves as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff to assist in the overall administrative operations of the City. If constituent concerns are beyond what Smith can handle, Ayrassian will take over, generally handling three or four calls and emails a week. A lifelong resident of Cranston, Ayrassian previously worked as Cranston’s Personnel Director and served as chairperson of the Cranston Diversity Commission.
“Due to the dynamic nature of my position, there are many aspects of the position of Chief of Staff that I really enjoy,” said Ayrassian in an email. “The best part is working with the Mayor’s team and other City personnel.”
A self-proclaimed “people person”, Ayrassian greatly enjoys interacting with department directors and visitors, and fostering both professional and congenial relationships, which she considers “essentials in working collaboratively to accomplish goals for the benefit of City residents.”
When she isn’t in City Hall, Ayrassian can be found in nature year round. Her favorite spot in the city is the walking trail at Rocky Point Park, where she often walks with friends or her dog.