9 Toughest Women in Rhode Island - 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017


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They make things happen in Rhode Island. They don’t take “no” for an answer and they are relentless change makers. 

These women are the personification of Maya Angelou’s quote, “I love to see a young girl go out and grab world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”

Women Leading

Those that get in their way often call them names, but for the issues and the goals they are fighting for, these womean are focused - and tenacious.

This is not the list of those that tried and worked through the system. These are the women that pursued goals and may have left more than a little wreckage along the way.

The words used for these women are usually associated with promos for MMA fighters. These are the women who take criticism, stay focused, and keep moving forward.  

And while they represent just a sliver of the women who are fighting out there daily, they are helping lead the way. 


Related Slideshow: 9 Toughest Women in Rhode Island - 2017

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Loyal Opposition

Patricia Morgan, House Minority Leader

From the Rhode Island Convention Center to the DOT -- and a few others - many have felt the wrath of House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan. She is tough, aggressive and unrelenting. 

The issues that she takes on often send shock waves through political circles -- and despite being the leader of the minority, she puts up a thoughtful and well-prepared fight against Speaker Nick Mattiello and the hoard of Democrats.

Even when asked about the expenditure of improvements in the GOP’s State House offices --  she answered the questions like a pro. Other elected leaders could learn from her professionalism.

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Karina Holyoak Wood and Tricia Kammerer, Political Activists

Dogged. Holyoak Wood and Kammerer worked through an arcane and functionally never before successfully utilized process in Providence to recall an elected official.

They lead the effort to recall long-time City Councilman Kevin Jackson.

The two lead the effort, jumped through the endless number of procedural hoops, and fought of numerous legal challenges.  

And in August there will be a new Council member in Ward 3.

Lookout elected officials - clearly, when there is a will, there can be a recall.

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Glass Sail

Julie Lynn Cardinal, Modern Suffragette

It is now a little over a year that the effort by Julie Lynn Cardinal proved to be successful in reversing decades of sexism, in a story of national - and international - attention. 

Cardinal successfully fought to reverse the “ancient” policy of the Westerly Yacht Club that barred women from being voting members of the organization.

The arguments against women members ranged from that they did not have the wherewithal to manage a membership, to divorced women might prey on married men. 

Cardinal, the daughter of a previous Club Commodore, led a protracted battle that engaged the media, women’s organizations, and, a little bit of a late comer, the ACLU, to question the club’s policy. Finally, it was reversed thanks to Cardinal.

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Dragon Slayer

Shannah Kurland, Civil Rights Attorney

Panhandling, the Community Safety Act, the rights of street musicians, and more, are all fights that Shannah Kurland has fought. 

She has claimed the Providence Police operated a third shift “terror squad” and helped to lead pickets of GoLocalProv’s offices.

Kurland has been fighting the fight since the early 1990s when she was an organizer with Direct Action for Rights and Equality.

Today, she uses her law degree to litigate against what she believes to be injustices.

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Sharon Steele, Community Leader

Sharon Steele may be the very definition of a community activist. From the battle over the PawSox to the height of the Hope Point Towers to being the most vigilant watchdog on the controversial Providence Board of Licenses, Steele has been in the midst of many a battle. 

Steele is not always a NIMBY advocate. She supports the $40 million in subsidies to the Wexford project on the 195 Commission.

While others “don’t have the time,” Steele attends the meetings, organizes neighbors, and speaks out publicly regardless who is on the other side of the issue.

Most recently, Steele has been involved with leading the program Make Music Rhode Island.

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Doreen Costa, GOP's Big Voice

From the State House to the Town Hall, Doreen Costa has been a consistent voice for conservative causes. Smaller government, more transparency, and accountability.

While some GOP members shy away from being associated with Donald Trump, Costa is at the front of the proverbial parade. She organizes events and acts as spokesperson for the GOP causes.

While some flip-and-flop, Costa leads and always with a smile on her face.

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Keep it Green

Trudy Coxe, Preservationist Extraordinaire 

Trudy Coxe has spent her career focused on environmental protection and enhancing preservation. In the 1980’s she helped to make Save the Bay one of the most powerful environmental groups in America. She took a run at Congress, but got beat by Jack Reed.  Then, Trudy became a top environmental regulator in Massachusetts.

Now, she is the head of Newport Preservation -- and has been in what seems like an endless legal arm-wrestling match with the descendants of the Vanderbilts over the construction of a visitors’ center on the property of the Breakers estate.

The multi-year legal squabble pales in comparison to her successes in beating back and beating up polluters in her earlier years, but Coxe takes on all comers.

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Business Leader

Lisa Ranglin, An Advocates' Advocate

Ex-corporate executive, Lisa Ranglin today is the force behind the Rhode Island Black Business Association, one of the fasting growing African-American advocacy/business groups in Rhode Island.

Ranglin is a top advocate, a strong corporate networker, and demonstrates a boat load of business acumen.

Her pro-minority, pro-business, and pro-Rhode Island voice is having an impact.

She has called out the I-195 Commission for excluding Black and minority contractors, she has helped to identify loan programs for minority businesses and she has created an annual awards program -- all of it intended to create value and engagement from emerging minority business.

Ranglin knows the difference between the carrot and the stick and knows how to use both.

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New Model of Journalism

Kate Nagle, Groundbreaker

Kate Nagle is a journalistic force as an investigative reporter, an expert at social media, and one of the founders of the first-in-the-country daily LIVE broadcasts on GoLocal. 

She may be the new model for reporters. She came to journalism with a deep experience in politics having been on Capitol Hill, followed by working with communications firms, non-profits, and business groups. 

Her reporting forced the re-opening of the Davey Lopes swimming pool. She has been relentless at uncovering the truth about 38 Studios. She has conducted numerous pieces about pay equity for women — see her reports on Governor Gina Raimondo’s staffing salaries.

In an age of dying newspapers and emerging digital local journalism, Nagle has broken some of the biggest stories. From New England Patriots' Danny Amendola's carport angering Benefit Street homeowners, to the Dunkin' Donuts employee who wrote "#BlackLivesMatter" on a police officer's cup, to being the first to break the Catholic church music director fired for his gay marriage, Nagle get the stories that matter to Rhode Islanders - and the world. 


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