When Pa. Gov.-elect Tom Wolf takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, he’ll be ready to roll up his sleeves and get down to business thanks in part to the work of John Fry ’82, Mike Newsome ’75, and Robin Wiessmann ’75.
UPDATE: Wiessmann named secretary of Banking and Security Jan. 13. She served as state treasurer from 2007 to 2009.
John Fry ’82, Drexel University president and Lafayette trustee, heads Wolf’s transition team of 250 volunteers. “I’m very involved in education, business, and civic life in Pennsylvania,” Fry says. “I bring an appreciation of how complicated the governor’s job is. It’s a giant talent hunt to meet the extraordinary challenges in education, finance, health, and the environment. There’s no way one person can address it.”
Forming committees to research and recommend candidates to fill 24 cabinet positions was a priority. For each post, two to three candidates were identified. Fry has participated in every interview, conducting as many as 10 a day for departments as diverse as agriculture and corrections. “The perfect preparation to be chair of the Gov.-elect’s transition committee is to be a liberal arts graduate from Lafayette College,” says Fry, an American studies graduate who earned an MBA at NYU and was president of Franklin & Marshall College from 2002 to 2010 and executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2002.
At F&M, he was instrumental in the college’s academic growth, campus and neighborhood development, and improved finances. At Penn, he implemented “Agenda for Excellence,” and built a coalition of nonprofit, business, neighborhood, and governmental organizations to address the challenges facing the University City neighborhood in West Philadelphia. The College presented Fry with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in 2008.
Newsome, executive vice-president and CFO of The Wolf Organization Inc., and Wiessmann, treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 2007 to 2009, are specialists who bring their financial expertise to the budget deficit and fiscal stabilization task force.
“We are thinking through and working toward actions that will re-engineer the way the government conducts its business,” says Wiessmann. “My approach has been to view the state’s economy and finances strategically. Short-term solutions are just that, short term. However, finding solutions for the long-term is the true challenge.”
Newsome adds that the task force was charged with determining the actual amount of the deficit that Wolf will inherit. “We had to validate the numbers and make recommendations as to how he could go about reducing that deficit,” says Newsome. Although he declined to name the figure prior to the governor’s announcement on Inauguration Day, media reports have placed the shortfall at $2 billion.
Newsome, a mathematics graduate, lends his financial and strategic guidance to various nonprofit organizations—York County Community Foundation and Crispus Attucks Youthbuild Charter School, among others.
Wiessmann, a government and law graduate with a JD from Rutgers, is an executive and investment banker who is active on a number of corporate boards. She has served as a member of the Board of Trustees, vice chair of Lafayette Leadership Council, and chair of Women in Leadership at Lafayette (now Council of Lafayette Women). Karl Wiessmann ’35 is her late father, and Alex Jarin ’15 is her son.