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PowerPlayer: Neil Steinberg

Monday, May 16, 2011

 

The Rhode Island Foundation might be the single-most important philanthropic foundation in the state today. The organization has proved to be a leader when it comes to supporting education, health, human services, arts and culture, environment and economic and community development.

And leading the way has been president and CEO Neil Steinberg.

The former chairman and CEO of Fleet Bank – Rhode Island, Steinberg was gracious enough to tell GoLocalProv what it’s like to help so many organizations make a major difference in the state every single day.

1. What's it been like in your role as head of one of the largest community foundations in the country, and the only one in Rhode Island?  This is a great job and a unique opportunity. We are the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofits in the state. It's a true honor and privilege to be in this position. I'm lucky to have a wonderful board and a dedicated staff of professionals. And we are all fortunate to work with generous donors and amazing nonprofit organizations that make all the difference for Rhode Islanders in need.

2. Take us through a day in your life.  Every day is different and very busy. The best days are spent in the community, meeting with our partners in the nonprofit community, with donors, and with professional advisors.  I spend a lot of time listening, learning, and networking around the state so we can better meet the needs of the people of Rhode Island and have the most impact with our grant making and other work.

3. If you hadn't heard, Rhode Island is small, which means everyone seems to know what everyone else is doing. Are you conscious of your role as a public figure?  Absolutely. But I also had this experience as president of Fleet Bank in Rhode Island. The higher the Foundation's profile is in Rhode Island, the more people will understand how important it is to partner with us to meet the state's challenges across many sectors. We have worked hard to raise our visibility in the past few years and to be more proactive with our outreach in the community.

4. What's the most difficult/disappointing part of your job?  Turning down good grants - so many organizations are competing for limited financial resources.

5. If you could change one thing about the state, what would it be?  Start implementing more of the good ideas that have come out of summits, studies, convenings, and task forces that will help boost our economy. We really have to stop talking and start doing much more.

6. Tell us something nobody knows about you.  I have a weakness for fast food.

Quick Hitters

Role Model: Former Rhode Island Foundation Chairman George Graboys
Favorite Restaurant:  Caffe Dolce Vita on Federal Hill
Best Beach: Scarborough
Best Book You've Read In The Last Year: Forces for Good by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant
Advice For The Next Neil Steinberg:  Stay positive and keep moving forward. Embrace change and take on the challenges

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