May 22, 2019 — The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities welcomes three new members to its Board of Directors including Joan Abrams, Kenny Alston, and Tiffini Bowers. The new members bring expertise in the areas of communications, law, higher education, and philanthropy. Alston joins the Humanities Council’s board as an appointee by Gov. Gina Raimondo.
The Humanities Council board will continue to be led by Touba Ghadessi, PhD, Chair of the Board, Julie Nora, PhD, Vice-Chair, Gina McDonald, CPA, Treasurer, and Jean Patiky, Secretary.
“Each of our board members bring a wealth of experience and dedication to the table,” said Elizabeth Francis, Executive Director. “Our board members serve as ambassadors who promote the critical role of the humanities in Rhode Island’s civic and cultural life.”
The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities seeds, supports, and strengthens public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders. As an independent, nonprofit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities since 1973, the Council has provided over $8 million in grants to support more than 650 organizations throughout the state of Rhode Island. The Council also supports independent researchers and filmmakers.
Biographies of new board members are included below. Click here for more information about all the Council’s board members.
New Board Members:
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. Joan’s 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.
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 International, Inc.).
After 12 years of maximizing shareholder profits, Kenny 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. Kenny 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). Kenny 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.
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. Tiffini 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.