Facente returns as chief of staff; Aaron Mackisey leaves for DC

Posted 6/20/24

Mayor Frank Picozzi has two chiefs of staff for the time being. One, Aaron Mackisey, 27, will leave this week to take a newly created position with a non-profit based in Washington, DC, working with …

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Facente returns as chief of staff; Aaron Mackisey leaves for DC


Mayor Frank Picozzi has two chiefs of staff for the time being. One, Aaron Mackisey, 27, will leave this week to take a newly created position with a non-profit based in Washington, DC, working with state and local municipal governments. The other, William Facente, has worked in Warwick government for nearly 30 years and until July 1 when he officially starts is shadowing Mackisey and “hanging around” city hall. Soon after the start of the New Year, Facente retired from his post as Warwick Community Development Director to accept a job with Providence Community Development. It looked like Warwick had lost Facente.

That wasn’t to be.

Mackisey, who Picozzi got to know when Mackisey ran for School Committee, recruited him as a candidate for his administrative staff. When his chief of staff left – Susan Nahabedian, Esq, was later named a Rhode Island Court Magistrate – he tapped Mackisey.

Mackisey fit in quickly, overseeing the mayor’s schedule and interfacing with department directors, elected officials and the public. Yet he was looking to take his career to another level, and he thought this was the time to do it.

“I was looking to take everything I’ve learned and bring it to a larger scale,” he said.

With a keen interest in politics, government and government policy, a girl friend in Washington might have also been an influence, he landed a newly created post as the director of state and local research for the MetroLab Network. As described in a flyer the network aims, “to equip local governments with science and research. It serves as a convener of an emerging academic practice focused on integrative, use-inspired, community-focused research, done in partnership with local government and communities.”

It goes on to read, “Cities are often on the front lines of solving difficult and complex social issues such as affordable housing, mental health, and digital equity. Universities can serve as a key partner, producing cutting-edge research, ideas, and technology that could help cities solve some of these complex issues.

“And yet, there is a disconnect between research and local government programs and policies. Why? We believe for two primary reasons: 1) research is often pushed, not pulled from local government and 2) research output doesn’t necessarily align with how cities and counties work – and so it’s difficult to adopt.”

Mackisey sees himself traveling to midsized cities across the country to address concerns and issues they face. He said there are institutions that do similar work however many espouse programs they have developed, and feel can be universally applied. Mackisey expects to be collaborating with local officials to understand their particular situations and tailor develop program policies.

Facente will likewise step into a new role although he is widely known by city staff and has developed strong relationships with members of the City Council and local organizations through his work on community development projects funded largely by federal grants and state and city matching funds.

Facente never aspired to be chief of staff and would not have thought of it until Picozzi called him on a Sunday and asked if they could get together for coffee last month.

“I told him I would need to think about it,” Facente said and about three weeks later he gave him his answer, “yea, I’ll do it.”

He had pangs of guilt leaving the Providence office and the people he had come to know and enjoyed working with. When he told his boss of the mayor’s offer, she told him opportunities don’t often present themselves. One of the mayor’s first questions was whether Facente could do both his former job as Community Development Director and Chief of Staff. Facente is confident of managing community development and to make the chief of staff job manageable, Amy Perra, who is presently a part time switchboard operator in mayor’s office will become full time as an operator and his scheduler.

Facente first met Picozzi when Picozzi was a member of the Warwick School Committee. He has always found him approachable. “I can tell him my opinion,” he said. And he has found Picozzi forthright.

Apparently, there wasn’t a lot of deliberation over Facente’s selection. Mackisey said when he met with Picozzi to talk about leaving, they both came up with Facente as the best candidate as a replacement.

“It’s hard to say,” Facente said when asked what he thought would be his biggest challenge as chief of staff. “Everyday anything and everything can happen and all at once,” he said. He aims to live up to the mayor’s expectations, the expectations of fellow city employees and the public’s expectations.

In an interview earlier this year when he announced he would be leaving as Community Development Director, Facente described how he got an internship with the city that put him on the path for a job.

As a URI student Facente was pursuing a degree in environmental management and economics when he attended a “Bring Back the Bay” show at the Warwick Mall. A friend asked him to check out summer intern possibilities and Facente came up with one in Warwick with the Department of Economic Development headed by the late Walter Richardson. When his friend didn’t follow up, Facente did. That summer Richardson, who was working with Karen Jedson, had Facente conduct a face-to-face survey of Warwick businesses on Jefferson Boulevard to assess what the city might do to improve the business environment. He conducted about 100 interviews. He had planted his roots in government although some city workers couldn’t believe he hadn’t landed the post through political connections.

Facente, 52, grew up in Lincoln. He pointed out he’s lived much of his life in Warwick. He and his wife Monyn are the parents of two sons, Raymond who is in the US Army and Jacob, a sophomore at Pilgrim.

Facente said he and the mayor have yet to work out what he will be paid.

Facente, chief of staff


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