10 to Watch

Web Exclusive: A Deeper Look Inside the Minds of 2015's Ten to Watch

How to make Providence a thriving metropolis, in their own words

Posted

What is one important lesson you learned in 2014, and how will you apply it going forward?

Dan Gertrudes
If I learned anything in 2014 it would be that in order to achieve great success you cannot be risk adverse. In business, as in life, nothing great is ever achieved by taking the easy path. In advising my clients, practicality is key, but so is knowing how to be fearless.

Susan Chin

A principal alone cannot move the work forward in a school. I have had the privilege of working with a fabulous school staff at my last school. Their work ethic and dedication to the students and families of Providence is amazing, and we had to work as a team to move the school forward. I learned how powerful collaboration and teamwork can be in getting the job done. Together we lifted a school from the lowest ranks in RI to a Blue Ribbon nominated school. That movement is a testament to the power of collaboration. I hope to support principals with developing their skill sets for collaborating with their school teams.

Marisa O’Gara
I learned so many valuable lessons in 2014, but I think that perhaps the most important one was the importance of teamwork and collaboration. I have a tendency to try to do everything on my own, but I think it’s very important to recognize when to delegate, when to share the burden, and to accept the reality that we’re stronger when we have the ideas and support of others. As my boss often says, you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

Dan McGowan
I was fortunate to have a front row seat to learn how much people really care about this city. From “apathetic” millennials to “grumpy” old timers, we saw people of all ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds really get involved in the mayor’s race. While voter turnout was down across the state and throughout the country, Providence turnout was higher than expected. Now we have to harness that energy. It doesn’t matter who won or lost the election. Organizers need to stay loud about fixing the schools and recreation centers, residents need to work with police to address crime, and students need to demand a better education. I’m going to be there to cover it all.

Thom Guertin

The greatest lesson I’ve learned in this job is that there are a number of talented, dedicated, and highly intelligent people who want to make a difference in how state government works. We need to ensure that these people are afforded the chance to enact change in meaningful ways.

Melissa Husband
There is no tool more effective than empowerment. I will continue to cultivate leaders by providing mentorship, encouragement, and professional development; and pushing for creative, innovative, and strategic thinking.

Shey Rivera

Artistic practice is an extension of the self, rather than a mere way to produce commodity. It is a spiritual form of connection and communication, of expression, that is part of all of us – our communities, cities, and societies – and has been for ages. Art is not something to be kept in the ivory towers of institutions, but is inherently part of our everyday lives as human beings. Artists have agency in community engagement. I’ve seen the benefit of how being an artist has helped me connect in a genuine way with more people and the many communities that comprise Providence’s rich and diverse population. As an artist, I’m interested in other people’s work, collaborating, and performing or exhibiting together, creating dialogue between individuals and groups. As an arts manager, I’m lucky enough to be in a role where I can actively support other artists. It’s a perfect balance of both an artistic and professional path.

Artists are not foreigners who don’t belong in the neighborhoods; we are community members that are equally concerned with the wellbeing of the people that surround us and the communities where we live.

David Dadekian

I suppose it’s something I already knew, but 2014 has certainly been the year for expanding my patience. After receiving the RI Foundation Innovation Fellowship, I was ready to open a market tomorrow, and I know the culinary community here was ready to do it with me, but business development, coupled with real estate development, is a slow-moving machine. But we do have progress!

Luis San Lucas

In 2014, I was assigned as the Director of Training and our main task was the planning, training, and subsequent certification of the Academy graduates. This opportunity was an eye opener to the amount of resources, time, and effort it takes in training one class of new police officers. Just because an applicant passes the written and physical fitness assessment test to qualify for the Training Academy, does not make one “qualified” for police work. Besides the rest of the pre-selection tests, one has to pass six months of intense physically and mentally demanding training. In preparation for the training, the best potential instructors were selected from among the department’s officers and each one gave their 110%, dedicating every single minute mentoring, counseling, and training the recruits in the six-month period. Besides the academy instructors we had officers instruct from the different divisions: Patrol, Narcotics, Investigative, and Traffic. We also had subject matter experts from police departments throughout RI teach the Emergency Vehicle Operations, SFST/DUI certification and Officer Survival portions, and many officers and civilian volunteers assisted in the realistic scenarios training. This exemplified the commitment and interests that officers within and outside the department had in teaching the new officers, but also the community’s involvement in the process.


Lessons learned includes this academy being the first to have its curriculum certified by the R.I. Police Officers Commission on Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.), first to have its academy instructors certified through a partnership with the Roger Williams University Justice System Training & Research Institute, and first to look at lessons learned through an After Action Review for improvements to be implemented into the next academy. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police agencies can be held liable for failure to train, so we must methodically document all training, and such certifications accomplish that. The overall experience has been an eye opener and an educational opportunity for all involved.


What is one piece of advice you would offer to our new mayor?

Thom Guertin
Open the doors! Build a team that prioritizes inclusion and ask for help to forge public/private partnerships. Providence has a substantial amount of data that it could make available as well, which I am confident would yield positive results. Solidifying the relationship with Code Island would be a great starting point. I’d like to see a stronger bent towards teamwork between the City of Providence and Rhode Island state government to identify significant opportunities to leverage resources and recognize efficiencies.

Dan Gertrudes
Our fiscal situation is serious. It requires a thoughtful and balanced solution that involves both the revenue and expense line, a review of services and its respective cost-benefit. It requires input from citizens, businesses, financing sources, and the functional leadership. It would take over five to seven years to implement and therefore continuity is critical. I understand motivations change over time, but we need a leader who has a long-term view and staying power to see this plan through. My advice is stay the course, as this is a journey. Be collaborative but pragmatic, and lastly engage the citizens, not just special interest groups.

Susan Chin

My one piece of advice for our incoming mayor is to be as present as possible with our schools. I would ask him to come visit our schools often to see with his own eyes and hear with his own ears the great work that is occurring every day in our classrooms and the daily challenges we face as an organization. The mayor is the person who can bring a vision on how to maximize the many resources Providence has to offer our children and families. Hearing from those closest to the work is such an important piece in helping to inform his policies and initiatives regarding support for our school system.

Melissa Husband
As much as possible, ensure that all Providence residents are kept in mind when City Hall decisions are made.

David Dadekian
Please remember that food is a major economic driver in the city of Providence. More people are employed in food and beverage related jobs than any sector except healthcare. Speaking of healthcare, a stronger food system can improve the public’s health, as well as improve the environment. I’m happy to meet over Pisco Sours and ceviche at Los Andes to discuss it.

Luis San Lucas
Today’s police department members are better educated, highly dedicated, and representative of a diverse community. We must continue to improve professionally, ethically, and technically, and given the resources and in unity with Providence residents, we could. There are officers who have specific skill assets and experiences we should engage. There are many officers who are willing to and enjoy sharing their opinions on improving the department for the forthcoming future. The best advice comes from the rank and file.

Shey Rivera
To listen to the community and the energy that already exists in Providence. To avoid reinventing the wheel and coming into the city with assumptions about what is best for our multidimensional communities. To empower the people that already do the work (and have been doing it for many years), and help us lift the barriers that exist in shaping our city as a vibrant place. We are already doing it. We have a strong brand as the Creative Capital. Our artists and community members are passionate and active. Legacies are created by listening to others who are on the floor, moving and shaking. It’s important to connect with the people that have already identified the challenges in the work because they understand the context, have historical knowledge, engage in cross-sector relationships, and serve our diverse population directly. A leader serves the people and strengthens the assets of a community while reducing its barriers to success. He/she can shift the currents of energy so that initiatives have more impact and are more efficient on a grander scale.

Marisa O’Gara

Always keep an ear to the ground, never lose sight of the vision that compelled you to run, and surround yourself with people who have executive leadership skills.

Dan McGowan

Always give me the scoop and you’ll be just fine.


Name one person or organization in Rhode Island you would like to work with in the coming year. Why?

David Dadekian
I can’t wait to work with the person or organization that’s creating a new food or drink business that no one knows about yet. I’m very fortunate to have worked with the best of the best in our culinary community, and there are more products and businesses being created all the time. So, whoever that person is creating something new, I want to work with them.

Susan Chin
As a lifelong musician who first started clarinet lessons at Fox Point Elementary School, I recognize the benefits the fine arts provide to our children both emotionally and academically, especially with elementary school students. With the current fiscal situation, fine arts programs have been scaled down in schools across the nation. I would love the opportunity to work with someone from the RI State Council for the Arts. RISCA currently provides great educational opportunities for our schools across the state. I welcome the opportunity to discuss possibilities of creating systematic and sustainable partnerships between Providence elementary schools and arts organizations across the city and state.

Shey Rivera

Lydia Perez, the President and Founder of the Puerto Rican Institute of Arts and Advocacy (PRIAA). She is a powerhouse, a force, and has been mobilizing on highlighting Puerto Rican arts and culture in RI (and the world) for years. She’s an amazing artist specializing in Afro-Caribbean dance. I’m collaborating with her on a series of video and dance pieces entitled, Flora y Falda (Flora and Skirt). I’m excited about collaborating with PRIAA in a programmatic way at AS220.

Melissa Husband
The Rhode Island Foundation, because I truly believe in their mission to lead, transform and inspire through philanthropy, grantmaking, and civic leadership to impact RI communities in a deep and meaningful way. I am encouraged by so many of their initiatives, especially their recent commitment to funding creative and innovative solutions for dramatic social impact and improvement.

Dan Gertrudes
I have a great deal of respect for Governor-elect Gina Raimondo. Her background is impressive and inspiring along with her sense of community stewardship. We also share a love for Rhode Island and I would welcome any opportunity to work with her team to help build our state’s economy.

Karina Wood
RI’s Poet Laureate, Rick Benjamin. My Master’s degree is in English literature, and I love poetry. Like Benjamin, I am very interested in exploring the connections between poetry and community service. I admire his work in this area. I would love to meet him and have a conversation about bringing more poetry and poetry writing workshops into the Providence Public Schools.

Luis San Lucas

Law enforcement has become a complex profession. In today’s world, the training for officers has to be reflective of the technological advances and the socio-economic and demographical changes in our society. During this time of change, there has to be someone that advocates for law enforcement in Rhode Island, and I think that the local organization that has substantive impact on policing across Rhode Island is the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association. The association has been at the forefront of law enforcement, legislative, civil rights, and training and standards issues and solutions. I am sure I could learn a lot from its members of law enforcement executives and academia. I would like to contribute and give my input on different issues relating to law enforcement in Rhode Island. Law Enforcement will continue to change as we could see in the issues highlighted in electronic equipment GPS tracking, advanced video/thermal imagery, unmanned aerial vehicles, social media communications, and human sex trafficking and advocacy for victims. As society changes and law enforcement changes we need to look at legislative changes to be implemented on a proactive versus a reactive basis. I am up to the challenge for brainstorming solutions and methodology for future policing.

Marisa O’Gara
I would love to work with the Sojourner House, which is an advocacy and resource center for victims of domestic violence in Rhode Island. I find their work to be inspiring, and I really appreciate their recognition of the reality that violence often happens in a cycle and that prevention-based work is critical to curbing the cycle.

Dan McGowan
I’d like to focus even more on the city’s school system. That means reaching out to everyone from the School Department to parent groups to the Providence Student Union to really understand what’s happening every day.

Thom Guertin

I am going to actively seek out more opportunities to work with Rhode Island cities and towns. The Office of Digital Excellence would like to create a stronger connection with the municipalities to identify where technology can streamline processes. We’re off to a great start with the ePermit platform getting underway. I know there are a lot of other areas we can work together on as well.


What is one specific action step you will take to make a positive impact in Providence (or Rhode Island) in 2015?

Dan Gertrudes
With any success also comes great responsibility. My children attend Providence Public Schools and I feel a deep sense of obligation to support our public education system. I was recently asked to serve on the Providence Children & Youth Cabinet’s Business Advisory Committee and look forward to progressing the work of that organization. Additionally, as my firm is doing more work with Social Enterprise Greenhouse, I will be actively assisting more social enterprises in our state grow their bottom lines, staff, and tax base.

Marisa O’Gara
I’m a firm believer in the fact that passion is contagious, and in 2015, I plan to do anything I can to share my passion for reading and foreign language learning with students. Being able to communicate, especially across cultures, makes us aware of what we all have in common and teaches us to empathize. If we had more empathy and communication in the world, I think we would have a lot fewer problems.

Dan McGowan

I’m going to start holding forums to bring city residents and political leaders together to talk about the key issues facing Providence.

Luis San Lucas
Dependent on resource availability, I foresee another Providence Police Training Academy class in 2015. The new officers’ presence on the streets will have a big impact in the community and our commitment to improving the quality of life in Providence. I see good things coming from the new officers; they are very enthusiastic in learning and being the best officers they can be and that feeling is very contagious. This shared enthusiasm is what makes our department the “Pride of Providence.”

After the next academy class has graduated, I wish to return back to the Patrol Division. If you enjoy what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. I enjoy being out on the streets, close to the rank and file officers, facing the daily challenges, leading, working, and training with the officers. I will take everything I have learned during my tenure as Director of Training and apply it for a major impact in the community’s quality of life.

Melissa Husband
The restoration of the Elmwood Community Center to a full service community center. This will bring back the much-needed resident programs and services. This would drastically improve that particular community. In addition, I would like to formulate a collective effort to develop a citywide community strategic plan on how to create citywide community center programs and services, utilizing community resources, local and national data, models and best practices; and with that seek out traditional and non-traditional resources to fund this effort. These efforts would strengthen individual communities, but also the city as a whole. We are more connected to each other than some may think. When one struggles we all struggle and when one is strengthened we are all strengthened.

Thom Guertin
The RI Office of Digital Excellence will launch its own website in 2015, which will feature an unprecedented level of transparency. It will give everyone a detailed view of the projects we’re working on and solicit feedback for new ideas. We’re also going to launch the Time, Leave and Attendance project to bring reporting, scheduling, and time management self-service online for all state agencies.

Shey Rivera
This is what I intend to do, and I encourage others to do the same: Create bridges between people and communities, especially with those who need to be at the table (and are often absent) in discussions regarding the role of arts and culture in the city. Create more opportunities for collaboration between groups so we can truly enjoy and share the rich diversity of cultures that exist in Providence. Cultivate and empower artists (especially young artists of color) that need support in stepping up to create more work, connect with other artists, and have their art be known throughout the region. There is a gap in our capitalist society, where artists are expected to be prodigious; there’s no room for process, experimentation, mistakes, or failures. Art is about process and people, not just about the objects produced. Once we eliminate the fear of expression, we can truly become a place where all people are empowered, leading to a strong and culturally diverse city that is vibrant and fair – a place of transformation and convergence.

Susan Chin
School autonomy. We have such talented school leaders and teachers teams in Providence. Those closest to the work know the students best and are in the best position to make critical decisions regarding how to maximize student achievement and how to create and nurture a positive school culture. There are so many layers of leadership skill that are needed to bring a team together for this purpose. Through my focus on being in the schools regularly and on developing a systematic protocol and tools for capturing a comprehensive snapshot of school progress, I can better focus my direct support to principals, helping school leaders develop and build their skill set in service of preparing them for moving towards a level of school autonomy.

David Dadekian
I want to have a ground-breaking/site-unveiling of the Eat Drink RI Central Market in 2015, if not a full-on opening. Patience but progress!

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here