Episode 01 - The Crisis


Massachusetts was one of the states hit hardest by the first wave of the SARS-COV-2 virus in the early part of 2020.  As the case count surged, supplies of testing equipment and critical personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers ran short, leading hospital executives to take extraordinary measures to secure products.  State governments operated in uncharted territory -  scrambling to fend for themselves and competing against neighboring states in the quest to purchase and deliver much needed masks, gowns, and face shields.  The fragility of global supply lines for PPE was exposed.

Massachusetts is home to world-class academic institutions and top-notch healthcare systems.  Boston is a city brimming with companies on the cutting-edge of biotech and medtech research and solutions.  The supporting manufacturing base stretches the breadth of the state, creating an ecosystem uniquely equipped to respond to the crisis.  State government leaders acted quickly - establishing a team of experts from healthcare, academia, and industry to stand up domestic supply lines of commoditized but essential hospital products. 

Episode 1 of this multi-part series documents the onslaught of the COVID-19 crisis brought on by severe shortages of PPE and testing equipment at hospitals; the formation of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (MERT); and sets up the response by the MedTech industry to provide domestic and in-state manufacturing capabilities for critical supplies.

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Julie Chen

Julie Chen, Ph.D

Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Professor | UMass Lowell


Julie Chen has taught in the mechanical engineering departments at both UMass Lowell and Boston University and is considered one of the region's leading experts on nanotechnology.

Her interests are in mechanical behavior and deformation of fiber structures, fiber assemblies and composite materials. Additionally, her work focuses on experimental investigation and analytical modeling of processing such as forming, stamping, energy absorption,fatigue, and failure behavior of composites as they relate to the fiber architecture and manufacturing defects.

Chen also serves as the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation for the University.

Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

President | MassMEDIC


Brian Johnson is an author, media entrepreneur, journalist and publisher, having conceived and executed content that has been viewed by millions of readers around the world. He currently serves as President, Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council (MassMEDIC). A role he has held since September 2018.

Under his watch, the trade association has grown revenues dramatically, expanded total membership, launched a virtual accelerator for medtech startups, and played a critical role in the local and federal medtech ecosystem, including helping to repeal the 2.3% medical device excise tax. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, MassMEDIC co-created the Massachusetts Supply Hub, which helped collect thousands of pieces of PPE for frontline workers. The Commonwealth officially adopted the program in the spring of 2020.

Brian resides in Brookline, Massachusetts with his wife and two young children.

Mike Kennealy

Mike Kennealy

Secretary, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development | Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Co-Chair, Economic Development Planning Council

Co-Chair, Reopening Advisory Board

As Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Mike Kennealy is responsible for advancing the Baker-Polito Administration’s agenda to create economic opportunity for residents, collaborative leadership in communities, an environment that supports job creation and business growth, and new housing for residents through targeted investments.

In early 2015, Kennealy joined the Administration as Assistant Secretary for Business Growth. As Assistant Secretary, Kennealy played an integral role in advancing the administration’s strategy for job creation and business development across the entire Commonwealth and provided leadership in key sectors, including serving as co-chair of the board of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. 

Kennealy and his family live in Lexington, Massachusetts, where they have been highly involved in town government, education and youth sports.  He previously served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at St. John’s Prep in Danvers and currently serves on the Board of Visitors for The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences at Dartmouth College.

Kennealy received a A.B. in Government from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Mark Keroack

Mark Keroack, MD, MPH

President & Chief Executive Officer | Baystate Health
Chair, Board of Directors | Health New England
President | Baystate Health Foundation
Professor of Medicine | UMass Medical School


Dr. Keroack provides strategic, financial, and operational oversight for all services at Baystate Health and its subsidiary health plan, Health New England. Under his leadership, Baystate Health has expanded the reach and variety of its clinical services, incorporating two new community hospitals and growing its outpatient practices across the region. The system has been a national leader in adopting population-based approaches to organizing and financing health care, emphasizing prevention, wellness, care integration, and cost containment under a global budget for the majority of its patients. During this time, Baystate Health also enhanced its role as the sole academic medical center of western Massachusetts, growing the scope, sophistication and reach of its tertiary services, elevating its research programs, and opening UMMS-Baystate, a regional medical campus focused on the training of primary care physicians. The system has continued its long tradition of receiving national and regional awards for outstanding performance in safety, quality, and innovation during his tenure. Dr. Keroack also provides strategic oversight for philanthropic and community benefits activities in support of the health system.

Dr. Keroack is a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Medical School and received his MPH from Boston University. He trained in internal medicine and infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He serves on several local boards focused on improving the quality of life in his native Springfield and across western Massachusetts, as well as several state and national boards. He is married to Dr. Ann Errichetti, and they have two grown daughters now living in Massachusetts and Vermont.

Carolyn Kirk

Carolyn Kirk

Executive Director | MassTech Collaborative


Carolyn A. Kirk was selected by the Executive Committee of the Mass Tech Collaborative (MassTech) as the agency's executive director in February 2019. Mass Tech is a state economic development agency whose mission is to strengthen the tech & innovation economy across a variety of industries including advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, digital health and other emerging tech areas such as artificial intelligence, fintech, and robotics.

Kirk previously served as the Deputy Secretary in the cabinet level secretariat of Housing and Economic Development in the Administration of Governor Charlie Baker, and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, a role she held since the beginning of the Baker-Polito Administration in January 2015. As second-in-command, Kirk was responsible for overseeing all operational aspects of this approximately 1,000 person, billion dollar agency including IT, HR, Communications, Finance and Legal. In addition, she served in various leadership capacities, managed an economic development program portfolio, and tackled difficult assignments for the Administration.

Darlene Rodowicz

Darlene Rodowicz

Executive Vice President | Berkshire Health Systems


Darlene Rodowicz was appointed Executive Vice President of Berkshire Health Systems in 2020, after serving as Chief Financial Officer for the previous 15 years. She had served as Associate Vice President of Finance for Berkshire Health Systems from 1995 to 2005. She joined Berkshire Health Systems in 1984 as a staff accountant and has since served in a variety of positions, including Billing Supervisor of Berkshire Faculty Services and BHS Comptroller before being named to her current role.

A graduate of Western New England College with a Master's degree in Business Administration, Rodowicz also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is a member and Fellow of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, a national organization comprised of healthcare financial leaders.