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TONIGHT: YWCA RI to Host 6th Annual Women Holding Office Celebration

Monday, April 28, 2014


YWCA Rhode Island will host its sixth annual Women Holding Office Celebration on Monday, April 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Kirkbrae Country Club in Lincoln.

The event, which is open to the public, will feature a keynote address by Rosie Hidalgo, Director of Public Policy for Casa de Esperanza in Washington, D.C, the premiere of a documentary about the first women to be elected mayor in Rhode Island, presentation of Isabelle Ahearn O’Neill Awards to women who have distinguished themselves holding public office, and the Rising Star Awards, recognizing newcomers to local and municipal office.

"As one of the oldest women's rights organizations committed to eliminating racism and empowering women, the YWCA is deeply invested in the passage of comprehensive immigration reform that is inclusive of the needs of women, girls and families and legislation that protects the safety, security, and opportunity of immigrant women and their families," said Deborah Perry, YWCA Rhode Island CEO .

SLIDES: See Bios of 2014 YWCA Honorees BELOW

Arlene Violet, Rhode Island Attorney General from 1985-87, will serve as the emcee.

Tickets to the Women Holding Office celebration are $25 and must be purchased in advance: call YWCA Rhode Island at (401) 722-3010, e-mail [email protected], or visit http://www.ywcari.org.


Related Slideshow: YWCA RI 6th Annual Women Holding Office Honorees

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Arlene Violet

Event emcee

Arlene Violet is the first woman elected State Attorney General in the U.S, a weekly columnist and television news commentator. She is listed as one of the 50 most influential women in law along with Former Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Hillary Clinton. Besides practicing law, she has written two books, CONVICTIONS, MY JOURNEY FROM THE CONVENT TO THE COURTROOM, published by Random House and THE MOB AND ME by Simon and Schuster. She appeared twice for 16 performances in Providence in the touring musical, NUNSENSE, and wrote the book for THE FAMILY, A MUSICAL ABOUT THE MOB which was performed at Trinity Repertory Theatre in June 2011. She is co-author of a play, THE CENTURION ,which was performed in August 2013 at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre in NYC. She has received over 100 awards for her community service.

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Rosie Hidalgo

Keynote Speaker

Rosie Hidalgo is the Director of Public Policy at Casa de Esperanza, a national Latina organization whose mission is to mobilize Latinas and Latino communities to end domestic violence. Casa de Esperanza also coordinates the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities, with a focus on providing national training and technical assistance, research, and policy advocacy. Rosie has worked in the movement to end domestic violence for the past 20 years. She previously worked as an attorney at legal services programs for low-income families in New York City and in Northern Virginia. She then served as the Director of Programs and later as the Director of Policy and Research for the National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence. Rosie also lived in the Dominican Republic for four years, until 2006, where she helped establish and coordinate a community-based domestic violence prevention and intervention network and worked as a consultant for the World Bank on social services reforms. She serves on the Steering Committee of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence and has served on the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence since 2010. Rosie received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree from New York University School of Law.

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Mayor Kathy O'Hare

Isabelle Ahearn O’Neill Honoree

Dr. Kathryn O’Hare is the first woman elected Mayor in Rhode Island, having served as Mayor in West Warwick from 1992 to 1994. Within her first month, her Transition Team discovered the severity of the Town’s financial crisis, a 21 million dollar deficit – the most devastating in the history of the state. In two years, while facing opposition from the Town Council and threats from political opponents, the Mayor implemented actions to reverse the downward slide from bankruptcy to solvency. She hired fiscal experts to conduct a forensic audit and created legislation, mandating the State create a Budget Review Commission, to assist communities in threat of junk-bond ratings. She insisted that the Town’s budgets present honest numbers showing revenues and expenditures. She created a twenty-year savings, cost-cutting, and debt-payment plan while implementing tax increases, an unpopular but necessary action to lead the town toward solvency. She is credited with saving the fiscal life of her community. While serving as Mayor, Kathy accepted a special invitation during the Mayor’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C to meet and have photos with President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and US Attorney General Janet Reno. Her tenure ended when political opponents changed the Town Charter from a Mayoral form of government, giving executive powers to the Town Council with a hired Manager. This action prevented her from running for the office of Mayor for a second term. After her tenure as Mayor, Kathy also worked as an Executive Director of the Women’s Center of Rhode Island and as Administrator for McAuley Village, and dedicated her final years of work to non-profit agencies serving the poor, abused and homeless.

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Stephanie Gonzalez

Central Falls City Council

(Rising Star Honorees)

Stephanie was born and raised in Central Falls. She graduated from Central Falls High School in 2004 and became the first member of her family to attend college, graduating in 2008 with a BA in English from Boston College. Since her return to Central Falls after college, Gonzalez has dedicated much of her time advocating for quality education and opportunities for Central Falls students, taking any chance she gets to promote the importance of college attendance and completion. Gonzalez is employed at Boston Children's Hospital in the Patient Safety and Quality program where she helps develop and implement innovative, standardized care plans throughout a myriad of clinical settings. She is a member of the Central Falls School Board of Trustees, Nowell Leadership Academy Board of Directors, YWCA Rhode Island Board of Directors, founding member of the Central Falls Alumni Association, and a Central Falls City Councilwoman.

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Tammi Johnson

Central Falls City Council

(Rising Star Honorees)

Tammi has been a resident of Central Falls for 30 years. She is a 1992 graduate of Central Falls High School with an Associate Degree in business management. She works as a RIDE certified teaching assistant at the Office of Children, Youth and Learning in Cumberland, teaching early childhood literacy and math. She and her husband Carlos Ribeiro have three daughters who attend Blackstone Valley Prep, a Rhode Island Mayoral Academy. In recent years she has been a strong voice advocating for school choice. Johnson is an active member of the Central Falls Community Collaborative and before serving on the Central Falls City Council, she served as Chairperson for the city's personnel board.

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Shelby Maldonado

Central Falls City Council

(Rising Star Honorees)

Shelby is a Central Falls native. She graduated from Central Falls High School in 2005. After receiving her degree from URI in Political Science and Communication, she worked at the College Crusade of Rhode Island empowering students to go to college. She spent two years in the United States Peace Corps in Zambia, Africa developing strategies to increase economic empowerment and health care access for low-income people.

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Ann Racquier

Central Falls City Council

(Rising Star Honorees)

Ann has been a Central Falls resident since 1966. She is a retired nurse who now spends her time with her children and grandchildren. Racquier work for the Court Appointed Special Advocates for five years and at the Pawtucket Animal Shelter for twelve years. She also served as an usher at the Providence Performing Arts Center for the past thirteen years. Currently, Racquier is a docent at Roger Williams Park Zoo and is the acting treasurer of the Central Falls Library where she volunteers three days a week.

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Tia Ristaino-Siegel

Central Falls City Council

(Rising Star Honorees)

Tia earned her BA from the University of New Hampshire, shortly thereafter began her professional career that has encompassed the past 23 years. This includes, but is not limited to, restaurant management, sales, project management, real estate and business development. Ristaino-Siegel and her husband have lived in Central Falls for the past 11 years and volunteer with several community organizations. She is currently serving as president of the Central Falls Lions Club, co-chair of the Community Collaborative (formerly known as Community Watch) and a member of the Central Falls Tax Appeal Board. Recently, she worked with high school students through the Expanded Learning Opportunities to re-establish the community garden. Ristaino-Siegel serves on the board of the Adams Memorial Library, Segue Institute for Learning, and Central Falls Prevention Coalition.


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