Wendell Hannaford
Director, Eastern Regional Conference

Wendell Hannaford has been the director of CSG East/Eastern Regional Conference since 2009. He previously served as the deputy director and as a senior policy analyst for international trade and economic development. In 1998, while serving as deputy director, he created the Eastern Trade Council, an affiliate organization of CSG-ERC, to facilitate collaborative approaches to export promotion among state trade officials in the Northeast. He helped recruit the six Eastern Canadian provinces to become international associate members of ERC and staffed the ERC Eastern Canadian Provinces Committee. He also created the ERC Tax and Budget Chairman’s Roundtable.

Prior to joining CSG, Hannaford worked for the New York State Senate Select Committee on Interstate Cooperation as a research analyst. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Drew University and an international trade specialist certificate from Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management. 

David Biette
Deputy Director, Eastern Regional Conference

David joined the The Council of State Governments/Eastern Regional Conference as deputy director in May 2017. He was founding director of both the Canada Institute and the Polar Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a think tank that serves as the United States’ memorial to the 28th president. He has served as executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States, and as a political-economic officer at the Consulate General of Canada in New York City, where he was responsible for relations with the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut on a variety of issues including energy, environment, and political affairs. He is the author of numerous chapters, policy briefs, and op-eds, and has appeared regularly in U.S., Canadian, and international media. Biette grew up in Massachusetts, and has an M.A. in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., and a B.A. from Bowdoin College in Maine. 

Jack Aitken
Research Associate

Jack Aitken has been a research associate with ERC since 2015. Throughout his college years he worked on several New York City political campaigns and served as a communications assistant in the New York City Council. In 2014 he interned with the CSG, Washington, D.C., office, where he worked with the Overseas Voting Initiative as well as the CSG Justice Center.

Jack received his B.A. in political science from the University of Rhode Island and immediately returned to New York to become a research assistant with ERC. In his current capacity he assists staff and consultants with research support, blog writing, meeting planning, and web design.

A.R. Braver
Meeting Logistics, Program Manager

AR Braver coordinates ERC’s Annual Meeting, administrative committee, and task force meetings; staffs the ERC Annual Meeting Committee; and also works on fundraising and photography of ERC events. Previously she coordinated special events in Lincoln Center and was an account supervisor organizing the logistics, faculty, and content for continuing medical education symposia in the United States and Europe, primarily in the areas of chronic kidney disease, atherosclerosis, lysosomal storage disorders, HIV, transplantation, and diabetes.

Véronique M. Cavaillier
Director, Eastern Trade Council
Director, Leadership Training Programs

Véronique M. Cavaillier is responsible for developing and implementing regionally focused export promotion endeavors, including trade missions and trade shows, and has organized executive symposia and conferences on trade issues. She serves as liaison to senior public and private sector officials to enlist their support for CSG East/Eastern Regional Conference’s international export promotion programs. In addition, she speaks at various forums to promote the visibility of the Northeast trade capacity.

Cavaillier has worked in the finance industry, federal and state government, and has an expertise in export credit financing, trade finance, and international trade policy. She holds an M.B.A. in international business from Adelphi University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and languages from Colgate University; she speaks French fluently and has a working knowledge of Russian.

Rona Cohen
Senior Policy Analyst, Energy and Environment Program
Editor, Print and Multimedia Projects

Rona Cohen has provided research and analysis on energy and environmental policy for more than a decade at The Council of State Governments/Eastern Regional Conference, where she directs a committee of approximately 60 state officials, edits two blogs and a weekly newsletter, and produces multimedia content, including a recent mini-documentary on efforts among officials in Guilford, Connecticut, to create a Community Coastal Resilience Plan. Under Rona’s guidance, the CSG/ERC Energy and Environment Committee organized task forces on offshore wind energy; grid-enabled electric vehicles; and collaborated with the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc. to develop model legislation governing electronic waste. She has testified before legislative committees in six states.

Earlier in her career, Rona spent nearly five years working as a newspaper and wire-service reporter in Buenos Aires, Argentina and New York City, where she reported for Knight Ridder, Time Magazine, The Miami Herald, and The Buenos Aires Herald, among other publications. Rona holds a master’s degree in international economic policy from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and a B.A. in history from Wesleyan University.

Debbie-Ann Paige
Policy Analyst, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Council on Communities of Color

Debbie-Ann Paige has served in a variety of roles with The Council of State Governments Eastern Regional Conference (CSG/ERC) since 2005. In her most recent role, Debbie provides policy research and analysis to state policymakers on matters of military and veterans affairs. Debbie is also responsible for overseeing CSG/ERC’s newest initiative, the Council on Communities of Color (CCC). The CCC provides a forum for policymakers and stakeholders working to establish improved sustainable outcomes for communities of color.

Before joining CSG/ERC Debbie served as a trained volunteer appointed by two commanding officers (CO) as an Ombudsman at Naval Hospital Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, and at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia, to serve as an information link between command leadership and command families.

Debbie is also an adjunct lecturer at the College of Staten Island. She holds a BS in business dtudies from Southern New Hampshire University and a BA and MA in history from the College of Staten Island, CUNY.

Uldis Vanags
Director, Northeast High-Level Radioactive Waste Transportation Project

Uldis Vanags has a BA in physics from the University of Maine and a MS in radiological sciences and protection from the University of Lowell. He served as the state nuclear safety advisor for the State of Maine, overseeing the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station, and as the state nuclear engineer for the State of Vermont, overseeing the Vermont Yankee Atomic Power Station. Since 2013 he has been working with CSG/ERC as the project director for the Northeast High-Level Radioactive Waste Transportation Task Force.


Don Hannon
Transportation Policy

Don Hannon served in the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) for more than 25 years. His early years in transportation were in the areas of program auditing and budgeting. Later, he was appointed to lead NYSDOT’s Corporate Training organization and was subsequently invited by State Commissioner of Transportation Joseph Boardman (current CEO and president of Amtrak) to serve as his executive assistant.

During the final four years of his NYSDOT career, Don was the director of Integrated Modal Services. He was responsible for the state’s Passenger and Freight Rail, Aviation, Public Transportation, Bicycle/Pedestrian, and Ports programs. He served as the state’s representative to the U.S. Passenger Rail Next Generation Equipment Committee’s executive board. Additionally, he was the secretary-treasurer of the States for Passenger Rail Coalition, gathering more than 35 state transportation departments and passenger rail authorities advocating for federal support of passenger rail initiatives. Don was at the forefront as a public spokesperson and speaker advancing freight and passenger rail investments in New York, Washington, D.C., the NortheasternsStates, and Canada.

Since leaving public service he has worked to help cultivate ideas and relationships to advance improved transportation infrastructure within the United States, and between Canada and the United States. His clients include private investors, transportation advocacy organizations, and elected state and federal officials.

Steve Hewitt
Transportation Policy

Steve Hewitt is an independent transportation consultant with more than 20 years of experience in the field of federal, state, and local transportation policy; governmental relations; and coalition building. Since January 2009, Steve has been a consultant to CSG/ERC’s transportation policy committee. Steve is a former director of the Office of External Relations with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) where he served on the executive staff and advised senior management on legislative advocacy strategies. He served as the department’s point of contact for stakeholder organizations, trade associations, and governmental entities at the state, regional, and national levels. Steve’s priority areas of focus include advancing regional and national transportation policy initiatives; providing legislative analysis, advice, and counsel to elected officials; and, generally, promoting the importance of ensuring an adequately funded, safe, secure, and reliable multi-modal national transportation system.

Bob Haefner
Agriculture and Rural Affairs

Bob has a master’s degree in management from Lesley University and a B.S. in business administration from Hawthorne College, magna cum laude. He served his military obligation in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He spent 36 years with Fortune 500 companies in people, process, and program management. After retiring from HP, Bob ran for the New Hampshire House of Representatives and then spent 10 years on the Committee on Environment and Agriculture, four of those as ranking member and four as chair. Bob is a fellow of the Eastern Leadership Academy and a member of the Farm Bureau Government Affairs Committee. Bob was active on the CSG/ERC Agriculture Policy Committee and a member of the Executive Committee, and has been active in State Agriculture and Rural Leaders (SARL). He now joins the ERC consulting staff as one of the two Agriculture and Rural Policy advisors.

Tara Sad
Agriculture and Rural Affairs

Tara Sad is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a degree in business administration. She had careers in the film, television, and legal professions in Los Angeles and New York City before moving to Walpole, New Hampshire more than 25 ye years ago. Tara served for 10 years in the New Hampshire House of Representative, four of those as chair of the Environment and Agriculture Committee and four as the ranking member. While in the House, she also served on the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules and the Dairy Task Force, in addition to chairing the state’s Rural Affairs Commission and the Milk Producers Emergency Relief Fund Board. Tara is a longtime and active member of CSG-ERC.