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NEW: RI Foundation Names 2013 Non-Profit Fellows

Monday, January 07, 2013


Twelve nonprofit leaders have been named 2013 Rhode Island Foundation Fellows as part of a leadership development program led by the Foundation’s Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence (INE).

Introduced by the Rhode Island Foundation in 2000, the Fellows program has supported more than 150 nonprofit leaders in personal and professional development. The program offers an opportunity to nonprofit executive directors to take productive short-term sabbaticals from their organizations. Fellows design their own sabbatical projects subject to Foundation approval and receive a stipend of $10,000 from the Foundation. Additionally, the Foundation grants $5,000 to the Fellows’ organizations to compensate for the executive directors’ time away.

“The Fellows program has proven to be a powerful and effective vehicle for nonprofit executive directors to self-reflect, reinvigorate and strengthen their leadership skills,” said INE Vice President Jill Pfitzenmayer.

The duration of the program is 18 months, beginning in January 2013 and ending in June 2014. In addition to their proposed programs, Fellows participate in an opening retreat and periodic cohort meetings to share their challenges, opportunities and learnings, all with the goal of energizing top leaders in the state’s nonprofits.

The 2013 Fellows and their projects are:

Toby Ayers, Rhode Island for Community & Justice
Ayers will explore the language of architecture and use it in leading the social building of community. She will study "The Pattern Language" by architect Christopher Alexander, visit the United Kingdom for two weeks to consult with Alexander and his team, engaging him in dialogue about "translating" his language of building living communities into the building of non-material communities and social justice, and attend the Pattern Languages of Programs conference. She will also form a book group to discuss her learnings.

Rose Mary Grant, Highlander Charter School
Grant will study Spanish and culture in the Dominican Republic in order to master the language and gain a deeper understanding of cultural differences. She will also attend sessions at the Mesa Center to study Native American culture, nurturing creativity to better her approach to decision-making and problem-solving.

Joanne Hoops, Boys & Girls Club of Newport County
Hoops will travel to New York, Ohio, and Illinois to study various artists and architects and learn stained glass and CAD drawing. She will also travel to Portugal to reconnect with her heritage and attend two women's leadership conferences.

Khadija Khan, Beautiful Beginnings
Khan will attend a meditation and yoga retreat in California at the Chopra Center. She will also learn to play guitar and attend a series of workshops on improvisation offered by Trinity Rep. Khan also plans to work with an executive coach.

Sunshine Menezes, Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting
Menezes aims to gain new leadership skills and reconnect with her passion for music and performance by recruiting and forming a western swing band, the first of its genre to perform in Rhode Island. She will record an album of original songs for the band to perform, releasing the album upon returning from Bob Wills Day in Turkey, Texas.

Simon Moore, College Visions
Moore will embark on a month-long journey across the United Kingdom via train, bicycle, and local transportation. At each stop on his trip, he will push himself by performing poetry pieces at open mic readings and poetry slams. He will also employ a daily regimen of reflection and creation in the form of writing and drawing, and will maintain a daily blog documenting his experiences and observations.

Janice O'Donnell, Providence Children’s Museum
O’Donnell will learn innovative “playwork” techniques for supporting children's play and exploration from leading playworkers in the United Kingdom. She will apprentice with playwork leader, writer and teacher Penny Wilson as well as observe a forest school in Denmark for five and six-year-olds that takes place entirely outdoors. She plans to implement her learnings into the museum's programming, and will also reconnect with her body and spiritual self through yoga classes and a drumming circle.

Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, Mixed Magic Theatre and Cultural Events
Pitts-Wiley will journey to Ghana, Africa, for the first time and learn to play the djembe drum. He will also learn to swim at a clinic in Florida. He plans to spend the end of his journey in solitude to reflect and produce new creative work.

Amelia Rose, Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island
Rose will visit three organizations in the food justice movement: The Food Project in Boston, Growing Power in Milwaukee, and New Mexico Acequia Association. She will also participate in the Food Project's Winter Institute, which includes learning about their youth programs, cross-race/class activities/dialogues, and agriculture-based income generating. She will participate in Growing Power's national trainings in urban agriculture and aquaculture, and workshops on dismantling racism.

Jim Ryczek, RI Coalition for the Homeless
Ryczek will engage in boundary-spanning organizational research and sustainable peer network-building and development by contacting and studying from organizations that likewise act as boundary spanners and interpreters. He will also examine various aspects of active reflection and meditation techniques.

Hillary Salmons, Providence After School Alliance
Salmons will shadow Zita Cobb at the Shorefront Foundation in Newfoundland for two weeks and spend one week in Las Vegas with Tony Hsieh as a systems thinker's mentor. Following her site visits, she will enroll in a leadership training recommended by advisors at The Rhode Island Foundation. She will also study book-binding and paper-making, and will create a hand-made journal to document her learnings.

Lori Urso, Pettaquamscutt Historical Society
Urso will travel to 15 mid-western and southern states in which segregated African-American vaudeville theatres once fueled the local economies. She will survey and document this landscape via writing, photography and video, and will organize her documentation, considering its purpose and relevant pedagogy.

The Rhode Island Foundation is a philanthropic and community leader dedicated to meeting the needs of the people of Rhode Island. Founded in 1916, the Foundation is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the United States, and is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2011, the Foundation made grants of $28 million to more than one thousand organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. For more information, visit www.rifoundation.org


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