May 15, 2017 – The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities welcomes nine new members to its Board of Directors including Christina Bevilacqua, C. Alexander Chiulli, Esq., Elaine B. Fain, MD, Michael R. Fein, PhD, Jessica Kowal, Kenneth C. Newman, Julie Nora, PhD, Jonathan Stevens, and David Syroney, Esq., CTFA. The new members bring expertise in the areas of higher education leadership, philanthropy, K-12 education, law, business, finance, and community engagement.
In addition to the new board members, the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities elected its new board leadership. Polly Hutcheson will remain the Chair of the Board. Gina McDonald, CPA, will remain as Treasurer and Jean Patiky as Secretary. Touba Ghadessi, PhD, will fill the position of Vice-Chair.
“These community leaders have exceptional qualities and backgrounds to take the Humanities Council into the future,” said Elizabeth Francis, Executive Director. “They join an outstanding group of ambassadors who promote the critical role of the humanities in Rhode Island’s civic life.”
New Board Members:
Christina Bevilacqua is a cultural curator who uses the arts and humanities to cultivate conversation among diverse publics. She currently serves as Conversationalist-in-Residence at Trinity Repertory Company Theater in Providence, RI. For eleven years she curated public programming at the Providence Athenaeum, where in 2006 she founded the Providence Athenaeum Salon, a weekly event bringing Athenaeum members and the general public together for conversations on history, the arts, fashion, collecting, literature, food, music, science, education, and urban policy. In 2013 the Council awarded her the Tom Roberts Prize for Creative Achievement in the Humanities in recognition of the impact that the Salon has had on cultural life in the state. Bevilacqua has been a Community Fellow at Brown University’s John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage since 2014. Previously she directed educational programming at Leadership Rhode Island for three years. She earned a BA in Writing and Literature from Bard College and an MA in Social Policy from the University of Chicago. In addition to her work in publishing, social services, retail, and criminal justice in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Providence, she spent eight years as a custom milliner.
C. Alexander Chiulli is an attorney at Barton Gilman LLP, a litigation firm with offices in Boston, Providence, and New York. Chiulli provides legal counsel to individuals, emerging businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions with respect to intellectual property, Internet law, privacy and information law, entrepreneurship, and the First Amendment as well as education law, general liability, employment, contract, and corporate matters. In 2013, Chiulli graduated from Suffolk Law School, with distinction in the area of intellectual property and received Suffolk Law’s Stanley W. Sokoloff Intellectual Property Award. He was a judicial intern for the Rhode Island Superior Court, assisting the Honorable Judith Savage. Upon graduating, Chiulli served as a judicial law clerk for the Rhode Island Superior Court, assisting the Honorable Sarah Taft-Carter, the Honorable Luis Matos, and the Honorable Brian Van Couyghen. Prior to law school, Chiulli worked for a range of businesses, from Fortune 500 to start-up, in the areas of business development, project management, and research. A native of the Edgewood area of Cranston, Rhode Island, Chiulli graduated from Cranston High School East in 2000. He obtained a BS in Business Administration from Fairfield University in Connecticut in 2004.
Elaine B. Fain, MD, is a native of Providence, RI. A graduate of Classical High School, she started her career as an environmental health specialist in New York before changing her career path to internal medicine. Initially employed at RI Hospital and Women & Infant’s Hospital, she entered private practice in the Providence area in 1988, retiring in 2015. She now volunteers at the RI Free Clinic. She is a recipient of a Woman of the Year Award from RI Medical Women’s Association (RIMWA) and a Community Service Award from the American Medical Women’s Association and served on the medical faculty at Brown University. Dr. Fain is involved with numerous civic and charitable organizations in RI. She has served as the President and remains active on the Boards of both RIMWA and the Classical High School Alumni Association. She is past President of her class at Brown and past President of the Global Alliance for Immunization against AIDS. Fain also served as Vice-President of The Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School. She received her MD degree from Columbia University, MSc from Harvard School of Public Health, and BA from Brown University. Dr. Fain and her husband Barry reside in Providence.
Michael R. Fein, PhD, is Assistant Dean of the John Hazen White College of Arts & Sciences and Professor of History at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Fein is the author of Paving the Way: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880-1956, which earned awards from the Public Works Historical Society and the New York State Department of Education. He has presented his research on the politics of American infrastructure at over a dozen national and international conferences. His work on U.S. transportation policy, radio regulation, and Boston’s “Big Dig” has appeared in the Journal of Urban History, the Journal of Planning History, and the Journal of Policy History. Before joining the faculty at Johnson & Wales, he taught at Babson College and Brandeis University and served as a Research Associate at Harvard Business School. He received his BA in History from Columbia University and earned his PhD in American History from Brandeis University, where he was a Crown Fellow. He was also selected as a Miller Center Fellow in Contemporary History, Public Policy, and American Politics by the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. A native of Connecticut, he has lived in Massachusetts for the last 22 years and worked in Providence for the past decade.
Jessica L. Kowal is a lifelong Rhode Islander and humanities devotee. With a BS in Biology from Providence College and an MA in Humanities from Salve Regina University, she is currently a Business Instructor for the CSC MetLife account, a position which affords her the opportunity to interact with multiple areas to uncover and address issues for continuous improvement. She possesses a passion for learning and an ardent desire to work with others to create a positive experience for both co-workers and customers alike. Kowal is on the Board of the Millennial Professional Group of Rhode Island, which is committed to retaining local talent to #ChooseRI as their place to live, work, and grow. Additionally, Kowal has served for the past three years on the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities’ annual Celebration Committee and was the event co-chair in 2016. She also volunteers with Sojourner House, a comprehensive domestic violence agency, Rhode Island Public Radio, and the Rhode Island Blood Center. In her free time, Kowal enjoys writing, traveling, and crafting artworks of stained glass. She resides in Cranston, RI.
Kenneth C. Newman is an independent consultant working with non-profit organizations, foundations, and government entities. Newman focuses on development, board development, strategic planning, and risk analysis for groups situated in Rhode Island, California, and Mexico City. Newman is a current member of the Advisory Board of Common Cause and the University of Rhode Island College of Arts and Sciences. He was also a past board member of the Jamestown Arts Center.
Julie Nora, PhD, has been Director of the International Charter School in Pawtucket Rhode Island since 2003. Prior to that appointment, she worked as a teacher of ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) in several educational settings spanning K-16 and as an applied researcher at the Education Alliance at Brown University. Her books include No More Low Expectations for English Learners and The Organization of Learning in a 7th/8th Grade ESL Social Studies Classroom. Her work has also been published in One Classroom, Many Learners: Best Practices for Today’s Multilingual Learners. She is a member of Rhode Island College President Sanchez’s Inclusive Education Commission and has served on the Governor’s Funding Formula Working Group, the Governor’s Task Force on Diversity in STEM Education, and the Commissioner’s Education Equity Task Force, among others. Nora is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley with a degree in US Intellectual History, received a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from San Francisco State University, and earned a PhD in Education, specializing in Language, Literacy and Culture from the University of Rhode Island/Rhode Island College. Originally from California, Nora has lived in Rhode Island for the past 20 years.
Jonathan Stevens is an urban planner, project director and policy strategist. He was Governor Lincoln Chafee’s special projects director (2011-15), and served as Senator Chafee’s policy director (1999-2007). His municipal experience includes serving as the planning director of both Warwick (1993-99) and Cumberland (since 2016). Stevens was also Newport’s economic development director (2007-10) and served as a Congressional liaison specialist at the Environmental Protection Agency (1991-92). Stevens has a passion for preserving, enhancing and celebrating American history. In initiating the 350th anniversary celebration of Rhode Island’s 1663 Colonial Charter, he directed a team that created a new Charter Museum in the Statehouse that includes a highly designed interpretative space and the Charter presented in encasements that meet National Archives standards. He organized the Newport World Heritage Commission (2014-16), to promote pre-Colonial Rhode Island as the first community in human history to enjoy freedom of religion, separation of church and state, and a locally-elected government. As State Historic Preservation Officer Stevens helped craft the “Creative and Cultural Economy Bond,” approved by 60 percent of voters in 2014, which is providing $35M to performing arts centers and historic restoration projects. He directed a major public art installation within Rhode Island’s Interstate Highway system, including “Discover Beautiful Rhode Island” gateway signs and murals featuring original artwork. Stevens holds a BA in American History from Boston University, a Masters in Community Planning from the University of Rhode Island, and has been an adjunct professor at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design.
David Syroney, Esq., CTFA, serves as Vice President and Trust Manager at The Washington Trust Company, managing a team of over 20 trust officers and support professionals. He works with his colleagues to provide new and existing clients with fiduciary expertise, strategies for investment management, wealth structuring, and private banking. Syroney has over 20 years of financial industry experience working with high net-worth individuals in areas of trusts, insurance risk management, and trust management. He graduated from Denison University where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and earned a law degree from Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Syroney resides in East Greenwich with his wife and two children.
New Board Leadership:
Touba Ghadessi, PhD, Vice-Chair, is Associate Professor of Art History at Wheaton College. She is the co-founder of the Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities (WIIH) and holds a joint position as the president of the oldest Renaissance society in America, the New England Renaissance Conference. In 2016, Ghadessi also joined the Board of Directors of the Providence Athenaeum. She has been awarded grants to study at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), to conduct archival research in Paris, Florence, and Rome, and to participate in the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique’s sponsored seminars in Paris. Ghadessi received her Bachelor’s degree from Trinity University and her Master’s and PhD from Northwestern University.