Jennifer Wood leaves EOHHS for legal center

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Jennifer Wood, a longtime top aide to former lieutenant governor and health secretary Elizabeth Roberts, is leaving state government to head up a nonprofit legal group, Eyewitness News has learned.

Wood will take over as executive director of the two-year-old Rhode Island Center for Justice, which works with Roger Williams University School of Law to provide legal services to low-income residents.

Miriam Weizenbaum, the center’s chair, said in a statement that Wood’s background first as a lawyer in private practice and then in state government “makes her an ideal leader for the Center for Justice at a time when basic rights are under significant challenge.”

Wood lost her position as a deputy secretary in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services earlier this year when Roberts resigned over the UHIP computer debacle, but was kept on as general counsel. She’d previously served as chief of staff to Roberts throughout the latter’s two terms as lieutenant governor.

“After devoting more than two decades of her life to state service, Jennifer Wood is leaving to become the executive director of the Rhode Island Center for Justice,” Ashley O’Shea, a spokeswoman for the office, said in an email. “We wish her the best in her new endeavor.”

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook