Major Gifts Officer, Save the Bay
Joan Abrams is a Public Member of the Board of the Federation of State Humanities Councils and is past Chair of the Board for Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. She has chaired the Governance Committee, the Development Committee, and the ad hoc Communications Committee. Abrams’ previous term on the Humanities Council board ended in March 2017.
In addition to her work with the Humanities Council, Abrams is Major Gifts Officer at Save the Bay. She has served as special projects consultant to the Community College of Rhode Island and other not-for-profit organizations. She is retired from Simmons College in Boston, MA, where she served as Professor of Practice and Director of the Masters in Communications Management. She is past President of the Board of Directors for Save the Bay, where she co-chaired their Capital Campaign, and has been a Trustee and Co-Chair of the President’s Leadership Council. Abrams was a board member and President of both Festival Ballet and Blithewold Mansions. Currently, she serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where she earned her Master’s in Public Administration. She has also been named to the Board of Governors of Higher Education for the three Rhode Island state colleges and has been a member of the Foundation Board of Women & Infants Hospital. Abrams was named Rhode Island’s Philanthropic Citizen of the Year in 2010 and was recently named to the Board of Directors of the Newport Art Museum.
Chief Legal Counsel, Rhode Island Department of Health
Kenny Alston began his legal career
over 20 years ago in New York City. After practicing for more than six years in
the corporate department of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, LLP (an
internationally recognized law firm), he landed successive in-house positions
at publicly traded companies, focusing on corporate, transactional, and
securities regulatory matters (the first, a real estate investment trust
eventually purchased by Deutsche Bank; and the second, Weight Watchers
After 12 years of maximizing shareholder profits, Alston shifted gears and found different professional challenges in politics and government. He staffed the gubernatorial campaign of then-Senator Lincoln D. Chafee, was hired as a legal counsel for Governor-elect Chafee in the fall of 2010 and, after several promotions to key legal and policy roles in the administration, was selected as Governor Chafee’s Chief of Staff in February 2014. Alston currently serves the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), the State’s sole, consolidated public health agency, as Chief Legal Counsel. He oversees RIDOH’s entire legal function, comprising a varied portfolio of internal and external compliance; subject matter advocacy; representation of the agency and certain of its health-related boards in administrative hearings; contract review and management; legislative and regulatory surveillance, drafting, negotiation, and modification; and first chairing litigation matters (from Family to Supreme Court). Alston is a graduate of Brown University and The University of Chicago Law School. A member of the Rhode Island and New York bars, in his free time, he enjoys singing the baritone part, deconstructing cultural phenomena, and flipping through stacks of post-1985, pre-2000 white label vinyl.
Reenie Barrow is a photographer who
has displayed her work in more than 100 US and international exhibits,
including shows at the Association of International Photography Dealers in New
York City, Art Institute of Chicago, the International Center of Photography in
New York City, the Cuban Center for Photography, Havana, Cuba, and the Zappion
National Gallery in Athens, Greece. In addition, numerous private and corporate
collections (among them Reader’s Digest, IBM, Fidelity Investments, Connecticut
Bank and Trust and the Art Institute of Chicago) permanently house Barrow’s
photographs. Among the honors Barrow has received is the Kostas Macadonias
Award from the Ministry of Culture of Greece and the Hellenic Center of
Photography. It is presented every two years to four individuals “for their
contribution to Hellenic photography and to the culture of Greece through
photography.” Her book of photography
and poetry, The Wreath of Dreams, Visions of Greek Villages, was published
by Kastaniotis Editions, Athens, Greece. Since moving to Rhode Island in 1989,
Barrow has become involved in community and statewide organizations and has
been actively involved in fundraising for several causes. She has served on a
variety of boards: the Bristol Art Museum, as well as being the curator of
exhibitions; Blithewold Mansion, Gardens, and Arboretum; the Art League of
Rhode Island; and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, RI. A graduate of
the University of California, Berkeley, Barrow resides in Bristol, RI.
Tiffini Bowers, Vice-Chair
Exhibitions Curator, John Hay Library, Brown University
Tiffini Bowers is an award-winning museum curator with over 15 years of experience. She is currently the Exhibitions Curator at the John Hay Library at Brown University. Bowers has worked with numerous museums, cultural institutions, and entertainment organizations including the Smithsonian Institution, Hermosa Beach Historical Society, Hollywood Black Film Festival, Autry/Southwest Museum of the American Indian, and the California African American Museum. In addition to libraries, Bowers has a love of synchronized swimming, film, and culinary history. She received her Master of Arts in History-Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program.
C. Alexander Chiulli, Esq
Attorney at Law, Barton Gillman LLP
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, nonprofit 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.
Marcia Sousa Da Ponte
Marcia Sousa Da Ponte was born and raised on the island of São Miguel, Azores, Portugal. Since childhood, she was an active participant in various grassroots community and cultural organizations such as the Girl Scouts, her church, and as an elected member of the Ribeira Grande Municipal Assembly.
Sousa Da Ponte is a graduate of the University of the Azores where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. She began her career at Lucromais, Lda as an economist and certified public accountant, advising businesses on their financial operations and preparing business development plan applications for European Union economic development incentive programs. Sousa Da Ponte was also an instructor at several professional and vocational schools from 1999–2004.
In 2008, Sousa Da Ponte emigrated to Rhode Island and began working at the Vice-consulate of Portugal in Providence in 2010 as a technical administrator. In February 2014, she was appointed Vice-Consul by the Secretary of State for Portuguese Communities, where she served until 2018. She is a member of several Portuguese-American cultural organizations in Rhode Island and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Day of Portugal Committee.
She resides in East Providence with her husband Daniel and their children Antonio and Sofia. Sousa Da Ponte enjoys reading, spending quality time with family and friends, and winter ski trips. Whenever possible, she enjoys returning to the Azores.
Jeannine Dingus-Eason, PhD
Dean, Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, Rhode Island College
Jeannine Dingus-Eason, PhD, is Dean of the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development at Rhode Island College. Prior to relocating to Rhode Island, she served as Professor and Program Director of the Executive Leadership Doctoral Program at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. A graduate of the University of Washington with a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction, Dingus-Eason holds a Masters in Secondary English Education and a Bachelors of Arts in English, specializing in African American literature, from the University of Rochester.
Her research interests include the professional socialization of teachers, specifically, Black intergenerational teachers, examining familial and cultural influences as well as the intersections of race, class, and gender on their work. For this area of research, Dingus-Eason earned a Spencer Pre-Dissertation Fellowship. Additionally, her research focused on bridging historical and contemporary contexts of Black education in the urban North, as demonstrated in her study of Black teacher recruitment to the North. Dingus-Eason has published articles in educational research journals including Teachers College Record, Urban Education, and the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, to name a few. She is currently completing her book, A Thousand Worries: Black Mothers of Sons with Autism, to be published by SUNY Press. The book focuses on Black mothers at the intersection of race, class, gender, and autism.
A Rochester, New York native, Dingus-Eason is a former secondary English teacher in the Rochester City School District and served as founding board president for a charter school. She also worked with TRIO Programs in Washington State including Upward Bound and the McNair Scholars Program. Dingus-Eason served on the Curriculum Committee for the Rochester United Way’s African American Leadership Development Program. Dingus-Eason is currently an active member of the Providence Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Dingus-Eason is married, a mother to one son, and three bonus children and grandchildren.
Elaine B. Fain, MD
Physician and Community Volunteer
Dr. Elaine Fain 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 & Infants 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 Global Alliance for Immunization
against AIDS, past 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
Dean, College of Arts & Sciences, Johnson & Wales University
Michael R. Fein is Dean of the 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 lives in Massachusetts and has worked in Providence since 2007.
Jorge Mejia, Treasurer
Director of Finance, International Charter School
Jorge Mejia has served as the Director of Finance at the International Charter School in Pawtucket, RI since 2016. He is responsible for the financial integrity and accounting practices of the school, including financial planning and budgeting. He has become a strong resource for the school not just in the area of finances but also in the area of facilities and operations.
Born and raised in Colombia, Mejia migrated to the United States in 2000. At an early age, he always had a passion for numbers and math. He studied Accounting at Rhode Island College where he earned his bachelor’s degree. In 2005, during his junior year, Mejia joined Progreso Latino as the Staff Accountant. This job allowed him to gain familiarity with all aspects of accounting. Additionally, he was able to witness firsthand the importance of community organizations and their advocacy role in our society. He then transitioned to the position of business manager, where he was able to help the organization grow financially.
Mejia is married and the father of three children.
Kenneth C. Newman
Kenneth C. Newman is an independent consultant working
with nonprofit 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 and past board member
of the Jamestown Arts Center.
Julie Nora, PhD, Chair
Director, International Charter School
Julie Nora has been Director of the International Charter School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island since 2003. Prior to that appointment, she worked as a teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in a 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 other commissions. Nora is a graduate of UC 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 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.
Director, Visual Storytelling & Presentations, CVS Health
Doug Popovich is a brand storyteller with industry-leading expertise in marketing and communications. As Director of Storytelling & Presentations at CVS Health, Popovich serves as lead creative and hands-on manager of the editorial and graphic design team charged with translating business objectives into visual narratives.
Prior to moving to Rhode Island in 2013, Popovich was Managing Director of Office ROI, a brand design and marketing communications agency in New York City. His other previous agency roles include Senior Vice President at Sterling Group and Production Director at Sequel Studios, as well as client-side director and management-level leadership roles at CA Technologies, Mercer Management Consulting, and Scholastic.
Popovich is a co-founder and board member of the nonprofit Arts in Common in Bristol, RI, which champions local arts and culture collaborations including Bristol PorchFest and Bristol BookFest events. His past service as a pro bono consultant and volunteer includes work with the Bronx Conservatory of Music, Bronx, NY; Change for Kids, New York, NY; EcoSpaces Education, Newark, NJ; Kids in Crisis, Cos Cob, CT; Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), Nairobi, Kenya; and Sing for Hope, New York, NY.
Popovich is a proud alum of Penn State where he received a BA in English, a BA in Journalism, a business minor, and a certificate in International Communications via study abroad at the University of Manchester, UK. An active student leader, his service during college included publicity manager of Thespians; communications director of the Undergraduate Student Government; reporter, night editor, and opinion editor at the Daily Collegian student newspaper; and membership in the Lion’s Paw, Skull & Bones, and Phi Beta Kappa honor societies.
Popovich and his husband, the artist Bradley Wester, reside in Bristol. His interests include cooking, international travel and culture. He is also an avid theater patron and contemporary art collector.
James P. Riley
James P. Riley is the retired Secretary Treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union Local 328. Riley began his career in the labor movement in 1974 as a meat cutter for Stop and Shop. He went to work full time for UFCW in 1984 as an international representative. He came to Rhode Island in 1997 to help organize workers and represent his local union as a lobbyist and advocate for RI’s working families. As a board member of Justice Assistance, Riley helps advocate for victims of crimes and offender rehabilitation programs. Riley is the “Official Voice” of the Providence St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He is also on the Occupational and Environmental Health Center of RI as board chair and a member of the RI Labor History Society. Prior to being selected for the Council on the Humanities, Riley served two terms on the State’s Council on the Arts. He has also been involved in fundraising efforts for the ALS Association of RI, to which he was awarded the 2017 Advocate of the Year Award. Of all his fundraising activities, Riley is most proud of his efforts on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Along with his equally hardworking UFCW team, he has helped to raise over $1,000,000 to date. In 2018, he was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. In his spare time, Riley is an accomplished pen and ink and watercolor artist. His work can be seen in the Rhode Island Governor’s office, the RI AFL-CIO, and several union headquarters across the state.
Jeannette E. Riley, PhD
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Rhode Island
Jeannette E. Riley, PhD, is the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Rhode Island and a professor of English and Gender and Women’s Studies. Her research interests focus on women’s literature, with an emphasis on contemporary women writers and feminist theory, and feminist pedagogy and online/blended teaching and learning. In addition to publications on writers such as Eavan Boland, Toni Morrison, and Terry Tempest Williams, Riley has published extensively on American poet Adrienne Rich and is the author of Understanding Adrienne Rich from the University of South Carolina’s Understanding Contemporary American Literature series. Riley’s public humanities work includes teaching literature for the Clemente Course in the Humanities in New Bedford from 2006-2015 and the Providence Clemente Veterans Initiative from 2018-2021. Prior to joining the University of Rhode Island, Riley was a Professor of English/Women’s and Gender Studies at UMass Dartmouth (2002-2015) and served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (2012-2017). Riley completed her bachelor’s at Colby College and went on to earn an MA in English from the University of New Hampshire and a PhD in English in post-1945 American and British Literature and Literary Theory from the University of New Mexico.
Rebecca R. Riley
Philanthropic Advisor/Community Volunteer
Rebecca Riley worked for nearly twenty years as Program Director and Vice President at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago. During her tenure she oversaw multi-million dollar grantmaking initiatives focused on community development, urban policy and regional planning, and advancing the arts and cultural institutions. After retiring from MacArthur in 2000, Riley has consulted with national corporations and foundations. She has been an active trustee on many nonprofit boards and continues on the Board of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in Washington, DC. From 2011-2015, Riley joined her husband, US Ambassador to ASEAN, in Jakarta, Indonesia, and traveled and worked throughout Southeast Asia. She currently volunteers for projects in Myanmar, Chicago and Rhode Island. Between schooling at Ohio University and Indiana University, she spent four years as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. Riley shares stewardship for an early 18th century house and landscape in Tiverton, RI.
Cynthia Scheinberg, PhD
Professor of English Literature, School of Humanities, Arts and Education, Roger Williams University
Dr. Cynthia Scheinberg is a Professor of English Literature in the School of Humanities, Arts and Education at Roger Williams University, where she also held the position of Dean of Humanities, Arts and Education from 2018-2021. Prior to coming to Roger Williams, she was Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Professor of English at Mills College (Oakland, California). She is an internationally known scholar on intersections between Victorian literature, religion, women writers, and Jewish studies; her publications include the book, Women’s Poetry and Religion in Victorian England: Jewish Identity and Christian Culture (Cambridge 2002) as well as a wide range of journal articles, book chapters and reviews; she has ongoing research on Jewish-Christian literary relations in nineteenth-century England. Scheinberg also does research on humanities pedagogy, designing faculty development projects and developing workshops on intersections between academic research and teaching in higher education. Her past awards include grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Harvard Divinity School, the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, the Teagle Foundation, and the Woodrow Wilson/Mellon Fellowship Foundation. She holds a BA from Harvard-Radcliffe College, and a PhD from Rutgers University and currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island where she and her husband, Rabbi Eliahu Klein, are active in the Jewish community; she has one daughter, Rachel Gavriella Klein, currently studying at Brandeis University.
Jonathan Stevens, MCP, Secretary
Planning Director, Town of Cumberland
Jonathan Stevens is an urban planner. He was the governor’s special projects director (2011-15), and served as policy director for Senator Lincoln Chafee. His municipal experience includes planning director of Warwick and Cumberland; he has also served as Newport’s economic development director. Stevens has a passion for celebrating American history and culture. He initiated the 350th anniversary celebration of Rhode Island’s 1663 Colonial Charter, and directed a team that created a new Charter Museum in the Statehouse. He organized the Newport World Heritage Committee, to promote pre-Colonial Rhode Island as the first society founded on the principles of freedom of religion, separation of church and state and locally-elected government. As State Historic Preservation Officer, Stevens helped craft the “Creative and Cultural Economy Bond,” which provided $35M for performing arts centers and historic restoration projects. He produced the design and installation of the iconic “Discover Beautiful Rhode Island” gateway signs and murals featuring original artwork of David Macaulay, Gretchen Dow Simpson and Anthony Russo within Rhode Island’s Interstate system. Stevens earned a BA in American History from Boston University, a Masters in Community Planning from the University of Rhode Island.
Don E. Wineberg
Partner, Chace Ruttenberg & Freedman, LLP
Don Wineberg leads Chace Ruttenberg & Freedman’s health law practice. He has extensive expertise in mergers, acquisitions and affiliations, joint venture structuring, HMO and preferred provider relations, governance, fraud and abuse compliance, antitrust compliance, medical staff relations, HIPAA compliance, information technology contracting, physician recruitment, reimbursement, general counsel issues and tax exemption. Wineberg has been practicing Health Law for over thirty years. He received his degree in Health and Society with honors from Brown University and graduated from Washington and Lee Law School cum laude. Wineberg is active in community affairs, including Board service on Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, The Guttmacher Institute, Rhode Island Public Radio, Acadia Center, Festival Ballet Providence, Trinity Repertory Company, the Jamestown Zoning Board of Review, the Jamestown Wind Energy Committee, Conanicut Yacht Club and HealthSource RI. He is currently serving as Chair of Acadia Center and has previously served as Commodore of Conanicut Yacht Club and Chair of Festival Ballet Providence, the HealthSource RI Expert Advisory Committee, the Jamestown Wind Energy Committee and Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island.