Board Members

The Board of Education is the chief policy-setting body overseeing K-12 education in Rhode Island. Through its designated powers and duties, the Board helps shape the course of public education to ensure that all of the state's students receive the best possible education.

The Board of Education does not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, race, color, religion, national origin, or disability.

Bio to come

Patricia DiCenso

  • Patricia DiCenso

    DiCenso, Patricia

    Chair, RI Board of Education Board Member, Patricia DiCenso

Patricia Dicenso has spent 37 years in education beginning in the classroom and moving forward with school counseling, school building leadership, and Superintendent of Schools. She has focused her career on a never-wavering commitment to working for students and families, including winning the RISCA advocate award for school year 2010-2011, as well as the RI Principal of the year for 2010.

Throughout her career, Pattie has led major shifts in urban communities that include high school reform, high quality instruction and curriculum, implementation of Dual Language programs and State Preschool. Everyone who worked with and for Superintendent DiCenso can attest to her resolve, loyalty to the community, and rapport with all stakeholders.

Ms. DiCenso challenges everyone she interacts with to work in a collaborative manner, respecting all expertise, and steering the way with a moral compass. As a result, relationships with the city leadership, school committee, city council, teacher unions and families all had a voice that led to best outcomes for students. Graduation rates, budget increases for schools, and safe and state of the art school construction were built under her leadership and vision. The state of Rhode Island and Rhode Island public schools are fortunate to have Patricia DiCenso on the K-12 Council of Education.

Appointed to the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education: December 2020

Appointed Chair: March 2022

Term Expires: 2023

David Caprio

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    Caprio, David

    Chair, Council on Postsecondary Education Board Member, David Caprio

David Caprio is an attorney with the Caprio Law Firm in Providence and a former Rhode Island State Representative from 1999 to 2010.  

He is a graduate of Boston College and Suffolk University Law School. David was appointed to the Board of Education and as Chairman of the Council on Postsecondary Education by Governor Daniel J. McKee in April 2022.

Mary Barden

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    Barden, Mary

    Council on Elementary and Secondary Education Board Member, Mary Barden

Mary Barden is the Executive Director of the National Education Association Rhode Island. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO.

Prior to becoming Executive Director at NEARI, Barden served as a UniServ Director/Assistant Executive Director at NEARI. She coordinated the organization’s professional development program with educators and assisted with the organization’s Mental Health Summit and Racial and Social Justice Committees. 

Barden spent the majority of her 20-year education career teaching 8th grade social studies at Davisville Middle School in North Kingstown. During that time she was selected as a Fulbright Exchange Teacher and taught for a year in the United Kingdom.

Barden holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Providence College, a bachelor’s degree in secondary education/social studies from Rhode Island College and a master’s degree in labor relations from the University of Rhode Island.


Amy Beretta

  • Amy Beretta

    Beretta, Amy

    Council, RI Board of Education Board Member, Amy Beretta

Amy Beretta is a 1989 graduate of Northeastern University School of Law.  In 1997 she formed a law office performing work exclusively for, and employed by, MetLife Auto & Home.  Her office is responsible for litigating cases in state and federal courts in Rhode Island and interpreting insurance contract language.  In addition to handling litigation matters, she manages and oversees office administration, and she acts as an arbitrator in personal injury litigation. 

Ms. Beretta is a board member and Treasurer for the Defense Counsel of Rhode Island; was previously a board member for the Rhode Island Bar Foundation; and served on the Rhode Island Bar Association Ethics Committee and the Rhode Island Supreme Court ADR Task Force.  At the local level she has served as a board member, secretary, and treasurer of the Providence Animal Rescue League and, along with her husband, has chaired the Bishop’s Ball for St. Joseph’s Health Services. 

She lives in Jamestown with her husband, Richard and their two children. She was appointed to the Board of Regents in 2005 and chaired the Board’s Appeals Committee.  She was appointed to the Board of Governors for Higher Education in 2011.

Appointed to Council on Elementary and Secondary Education: June 2014

Term Expires: January 31, 2016 

Reappointed: January 2017 

Term Expires: January 2019

Colleen Callahan

  • Colleen Callahan

    Callahan, Colleen

    Council, RI Board of Education Board Member, Colleen Callahan

A former sixth-grade and special education teacher in Lincoln, Rhode Island, with 21 years of classroom experience, Colleen Callahan currently serves as the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals (RIFTHP) Professional Issues Director.  As Director of Professional Issues, Dr. Callahan coordinates the organization's professional development networks, including its statewide Education Research & Dissemination and Redesigning Schools Networks and its partnerships with institutions of higher education.  She is responsible for direct service to members through coursework and on-site presentations and assists local union leaders in negotiating for and supporting professional issues and school-improvement initiatives.

Dr. Callahan works regularly with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and other state agencies on education policy and represents the RIFTHP on numerous state and national boards and commissions, including the RI College Crusade and the Northeast Regional Education Labs Boards of Directors.  Currently, Dr. Callahan is serving as the program director for the RIFTHP/AFTs Innovation Fund initiative on teacher evaluation, working with labor-management teams from six RI urban districts, national experts, and RIDE to create a model teacher evaluation and support system. 

Dr. Callahan served as Secretary of the RI Board of Regents and chaired the Board's Committees on Academic and Student Programs and Secondary Regulations. She holds bachelor's and master's Degrees from Rhode Island College and recently earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Johnson and Wales University.

Appointed to the RI Board of Education: January 2013

Appointed to the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education: June 2014

Term Expires: January 2017  

Reappointed: Through 2020

Reappointed: January 2021

Term Expires: January 2024

Karen Davis

  • Karen Davis

    Davis, Karen

    Council, RI Board of Education Board Member, Karen Davis

Retired Senior Vice President, Global Philanthropy & Social Impact, Hasbro, Inc.

As Senior Vice President for Global Philanthropy and Social Impact, Ms. Davis has led Hasbro's employee engagement as well as Hasbro's global philanthropic programs, including grantmaking, product donations, employee volunteering and giving, cause related marketing and strategic philanthropic relationships, employee networks, events, and global engagement activities.  

During her tenure, Karen has worked tirelessly to lead Hasbro's efforts to change the global communities in which the Company has a presence and to positively impact the lives of families and children in need around the world. Most recently, Ms. Davis spearheaded the company's signature philanthropic initiative "Be Fearless Be Kind," which is designed to inspire and empower kids to have the compassion, empathy and courage to stand up for others, to be inclusive and to take action when they see a problem. Under her leadership, Hasbro has been recognized as one of the most community minded companies by the Civic 50. In addition, the corporation has achieved a #1 ranking for their overall CSR efforts. She has been recognized by her professional association in 2019 with the Trail Blazer Award for her contributions and leadership in the field of corporate citizenship. 

She has inspired a culture of volunteerism through Team Hasbro, Hasbro's global employee volunteer network.  Ninety four percent of Hasbro's global employees participate in volunteer opportunities to support communities in need.  The average participation for corporate volunteer programs is 30%. Additionally, as President of the Hasbro Children's Fund, Ms. Davis has created a sense of community and giving back that is pervasive across Hasbro.

Karen has also led the HR function of employee engagement, working to make Hasbro the best place their employees have ever worked. Her role oversaw employee recognition, engagement strategies and measurement, resource networks, and events.

Ms. Davis currently serves on the RI Board of Education, SOS Children's Villages USA Board of Directors, and served on the Providence Chamber of Commerce. She has served on numerous boards throughout her career and is a highly respected leader in the philanthropic field having presented at the White House, the United Nations, and numerous conferences, she is a co-founder and past Chair of the Association of Corporate Contribution Professionals, as well as co-founder and past president of the Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island.

Prior to joining Hasbro, Karen worked in higher education in the advancement area, leading student engagement with philanthropy as well as annual and major gifts to support scholarships, construction projects and professorships. Ms. Davis graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Rhode Island where she holds a Master's Degree in Training and Development and a B.S. in Management. She holds advanced certificates in executive leadership from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, and is a certified Franklin Covey trainer.

Appointed to the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education: June 2017

Term Expires: January 31, 2020

Dennis Duffy

  • Dennis Duffy

    Duffy, Dennis

    Council, RI Board of Education Board Member, Dennis Duffy

Dennis is Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for Energy Management, Inc., a Boston based-energy infrastructure development firm and is responsible for the company’s regulatory and legislative affairs, legal strategy and industry trade group relations.

He has more than twenty-five years of experience as a corporate and regulatory attorney in New England.

He has also served as special counsel to the Rhode Island Energy Facility Board and was formerly a partner in the law firm of Partridge, Snow & Hahn.

He is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and Columbia University Law School.

Appointed to the RI Board of Education: 2014

Appointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education: June 2014

Term Expires: January 31, 2017

Appointed Chair: March 2022

Jo Eva Gaines

  • Jo Eva Gaines

    Gaines, Jo Eva

    Council, RI Board of Education Board Member, Jo Eva Gaines

Jo Eva Gaines is vice chair of the Newport School Committee, on which she has served since 2000. She is a member of the Policy Sub-committee and chairs the School Committee’s Building Committee and the Strategic Planning Sub-committee. Gaines has also served on the Executive Board of the Rhode Island Association of School Committees since 2001, during which time she has held the roles of president, secretary treasurer, and vice president.  She also serves as a Eucharistic minister, lector, and past president of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church parish council and has held a number of other active roles in her community.

After studying Music Education at Xavier University in New Orleans, Gaines received a B.A. in Education from Salve Regina University; an M.A. in Guidance and Counseling from Providence College; and a C.A.G.S. in Career Counseling/Secondary Administration from Bridgewater State College.  Her long teaching career included music education in Georgia, South Carolina, and Middletown, RI; guidance counselor and director of guidance in Middletown; and academic advisor at Salve Regina University. 

Gaines also served as secretary and vice chair of the Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education between 1985-2005, as well as a member of the Brown University’s Annenberg Institute Urban Education Task Force, Newport MLK Center Board of Directors, RI Commission on Women, Big Sisters RI, and several advisory boards for education evaluating and funding.  Gaines’ honors and awards include the NAACP Outstanding Educator Award and the RIASC Howard Kay Award for Outstanding School Committee Service.

Appointed to the RI Board of Education: January 2013

Appointed to the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education: June 2014

Term Expires: January 2017  

Reappointed: Through 2020

Reappointed: January 2021

Term Expires: January 2024

Rachelle Green

  • Rachelle Green

    Green, Rachelle

    Council, RI Board of Education Board Member, Rachelle Green

Rachelle Green, Esq., is a founding partner at Cervenka Green & Ducharme, LLC, specializing in litigation and employment law.  She previously was a partner at Duffy & Sweeney, LTD for fourteen years, after working as an associate attorney at McGovern, Noel & Benik, and then at Holland & Knight.  Green earned her law degree from the Georgia State University College of Law, finishing her last year at Northwestern University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of the Holy Cross.

Green is a former President and member of the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State, and a member of the Executive Leadership Team for the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women and the Rhode Island Public Radio Community Advisory Board. She has served in advisory and volunteer capacities in numerous other non-profit organizations in Rhode Island since she moved here in 1998.

Appointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education: June 2016

Term Expires: January 31, 2019

Reappointed: January 2021

Term Expires: January 2023

Thomas Izzo

  • Thomas Izzo

    Izzo, Thomas

    Council, RI Board of Education Board Member, Thomas Izzo

In January of 2003 Senator Izzo completed fourteen years of service in the Rhode Island State Senate, having first been elected in 1988.   He served as Chair of the Committee on Health, Education and Welfare, and served on both HEW and the Committee on Finance throughout his tenure in the Senate.  As Chair, and prior as Vice Chair, of the Permanent Legislative Oversight Commission on the Department of Children, Youth and Families he sponsored significant child welfare reform legislation as well as legislation regarding adoption, termination of parental rights, juvenile justice and the creation of the Children’s Cabinet.  Senator Izzo also was the prime sponsor of successful legislation dealing with youth access to tobacco, Rite Care, childhood lead poisoning, affordable housing, contractor registration, and the creation of charter schools.  Additionally, Senator Izzo co-chaired the 2000 Special Commission on Health Care Reform and the Rhode Island System of Care Task Force. 

Senator Izzo served three terms as the Senate representative on the RI Board of Governors for Higher Education, where he chaired the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs.  In the past he has served as a board member of Adoption RI, Hope, Alzheimer Center, Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, the Childhood Lead Action Project, and RI Kids Count.  Senator Izzo presently serves on the Board of Directors of Healthcentric Advisors, serves as the Community Chair of the RI Global Waiver Implementation Task Force and is a member of the Coastal Medical ACO Advisory Committee.

Completing an undergraduate degree in education at Rhode Island College and an MA degree from New York University, Senator Izzo retired from the Cranston Public Schools in 1997 after thirty-two years as a junior high and middle school teacher, guidance counselor and as an Assistant Principal for Student Services.

In recognition of his legislative efforts Senator Izzo has received a number of awards from such diverse groups as the American Cancer Society, United Way of RI, the Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Rhode Island College Alumni Association, Rhode Island Housing, the American Heart Association, the College Board, the RI Coalition for the Homeless, Childhood Lead Action Project, the RI Department of Health, and Life Span.

Appointed to Council on Postsecondary Education: June 2014

Term Expires: January 31, 2017

Reappointed: July 2019

Term Expires: January 2022

Marta Martinez

  • Marta Martinez

    Martinez, Marta

    Council, RI Board of Education Board Member, Marta Martinez

Marta founded the Hispanic Heritage Committee of RI. (HHCRI) in 1988 and served as the Chair until 2013, when she was hired as the Executive Director of the organization (now called R.I. Latino Arts).  She is the founder of the Latino Oral History Project of R.I. and is a member of the National Oral History Association, the National Storytellers Network and the American Folklife Society.  In August 2014, she published a book entitled Latino History of R.I.: Nuestras Raíces, based on her work with the Latino oral history project.

She was the Coordinator/Developer of Coming to Rhode Island – Dominican Gallery, and exhibition based on the oral history project of Dominicans in Rhode Island at The Providence Children’s Museum in Providence, R.I.  In 2014, she was also Coordinator/Co-Curator of an exhibition on Latino History of Rhode Island at the gallery of The Rhode Island Foundation.

Marta was honored by the Providence Journal as “Woman to Watch” in 2000; recipient of 2005 Education Award by the R.I. Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission; recipient of 2008 Community Engagement Award by the Center for Hispanic Policy & Advocacy; honored by the Providence Journal as a “Person to Watch” in 2010; and recipient of the Hispanic Community Leader of the Year by the R.I. Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce in 2011.  In 2014, Marta was selected by the National Association of Latino Art & Cultures (NALAC) for their Leadership Institute and in 2015 was awarded a fellowship by the R.I. Foundation.

Marta is a graduate of Providence College.  She has a minor in Broadcast Journalism (she worked at WPRI TV12) and a Master’s degree in print Journalism from George Washington University.  She was a regular contributor to the Providence Journal in the 1990s, and has been published in the National Hispanic Journal, Boston Globe, Hispanic Link and other news publications, writing about topics that focus on Latino culture and lifestyles.  She was a contributor to Caribbean Connections:  The Dominicans of Rhode Island (a bilingual publication), published Summer 2005.

Marta served as the Director of Publications at the Rhode Island Historical Society, the Executive Director of the Hispanic Social Service Association (HSSA) of R.I., which later became the Center for Hispanic Policy & Advocacy (CHisPA), Assistant Director of the R.I. Indian Council, and as the Communications Director at Progresso Latino.

She has served on a number of boards, among them the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities; The Pawtuxet Village Association; Friends of Pawtuxet Village; Governor’s Health Exchange Board; Paul Cuffee Charter School, Providence Mayoral Academy; Coalition of Advocates for Student Opportunities (CASO), César Chavez Scholarship Fund, the Juanita Sánchez Community Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation, WSBE (RI-PBS) Community Advisory Committee and Community MusicWorks.

Marta is fluent in Spanish and of Mexican heritage.  She is also fluent in Sign Language.

Appointed to the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education: January 2015

Term Expires: January 31, 2018

Reappointed: June 2018

Term Expires: January 2021

Michael Mello

  • Michael Mello

    Mello, Michael

    Council, RI Board of Education Board Member, Michael Mello

Michael Mello is Vice President Global Government Relations & U.S. Business Development, where he is responsible for protecting and expanding existing business and pursuing new business opportunities. He manages the company’s global network of government relations consultants and all international, federal, and state political efforts. Mike has been working with IGT in the government relations department since December 2006. For nearly 20 years, Mike Mello has had an active career in politics and government.

In 1994, Mike was named the District Director in Rhode Island for U.S. Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy where he managed the congressman’s Rhode Island office and served as the chief liaison between the Rhode Island and Washington offices. From 1998-2002, he was the Chief of Staff to former Rhode Island General Treasurer Paul J. Tavares. While serving in the General Treasurer’s office, Mike was the Treasurer’s principal advisor on all policy, planning, and strategy; and was responsible for managing nearly 100 employees and managers in the four different departments of the Treasury.

From 2002-2006, Mike was the Chief of Staff to Providence Mayor David Cicilline. As the Mayor’s top advisor, he supervised staff and operations for the City with a $550 million budget, more than 5,000 employees, and 176,000 residents. Mike left the Mayor’s Office in 2006 to become President of the Rhode Island Independent Higher Education Association before joining IGT in 2006 as the Senior Director of Global Government Relations.

Mike graduated from the University of Roger Williams in Bristol, R.I. with a bachelor’s degree in public administration.

Appointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education: July 2019

Reappointed: January 2021 

Term Expires: January 2023 

Bio to come

Lawrence Purtill

  • Lawrence Purtill

    Purtill, Lawrence

    Council, RI Board of Education Board Member, Lawrence Purtill

During his tenure as president of National Education Association Rhode Island, Larry Purtill has held numerous positions of leadership on statewide boards and commissions, in both the labor and education communities.  He currently is secretary treasurer of the Institute for Labor Studies and Research, chair of the Certification Advisory Committee, and is on the board of directors of the Working Rhode Island coalition.

Purtill is a member of the Executive Committee Rhode Island AFL-CIO. He taught history in Exeter-West Greenwich for 22 years prior to taking office in 1999.


Appointed to the RI Board of Education: January 2013

Appointed to the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education: June 2014

Term Expires: January 31, 2016 

Reappointed: Through January 2019 

Reappointed: January 2021

Term Expires: January 2024

Appointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education: June 2022

Term Expires: January 2024

Marcy Reyes

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    Reyes, Marcy

    Council on Postsecondary Education Board Member, Marcy Reyes

Marcy Reyes, internationally recognized businesswoman, and change maker, is the Founder and CEO of The Financial Literacy Youth (FLY) Initiative, a non-profit organization that provides culturally responsive financial literacy programming to underserved and underrepresented students; empowering youth with the knowledge, skills and experiences to end generational poverty.

As a Puerto Rican woman born into a family with little resources or support networks and over 20 years of experience in the areas of finance, education and healthcare, Marcy is uniquely suited to understand the challenges of the community she serves. She started her own academic career by putting herself through Rhode Island College and later received her Masters in Finance from Northeastern University.

In addition to her work with The FLY Initiative, Marcy serves, as an adjunct faculty member in Rhode Island College's School of Business, is the former Assistant Vice President of Consumer Credit for Santander Bank, N.A., and is the current Director of Market Strategy and Planning at Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA).

Marcy was credited for establishing a partnership between RIC and BCBSRI to bring in skilled Spanish- and Portuguese- speaking students to participate in internship opportunities. In recognition of her contributions to further diversity, Marcy was honored with the Ronald McDonald House Women's Leadership Award. Marcy was also credited by Providence Business News for bringing much-needed diversity to one of the state's most prominent corporations and was the 2018 recipient of the Rhode Island College Young Alumni Award in recognition of her contributions to the college and the community.

Marcy was also presented with the BCBSRI IDEA award from CEO, Kim Keck – for spearheading important work to improve healthcare accessibility, which was highlighted in the article, “Paving a new road to help multilingual Patients better manage their care.”.

Marcy was honored as the recipient of the 2021 Bannister Award, recognized by PBN as a 2021 40 Under forty honoree, by Year Up as a 2021 Opportunity Champion, for her work to close the opportunity gap. Marcy has also been recognized as Female Executive of the Year, Mentor or Coach of the Year and Female Innovator of the Year at the 17th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the world’s premier business awards. Marcy’s work has been featured on WPRI 12 Eyewitness News, The Rhode Show, Next Gen Personal Finance’s national podcast and in Providence Journal’s People on The Move in RI.

Marcy has presented as an invited guest at the RI State Treasurer’s round table and has been recognized for her contributions to Treasurer Magaziner’s white paper “Fallen Behind”. In addition to her many achievements, Marcy proudly serves her community on the board of directors for RIPTA, as a member of the advisory council for Papitto Opportunity Connection, Foundation, and as a Year Up mentor and educator. Marcy is a graduate of the 2020 Leadership Rhode Island's Pi ll Class and served as Co- Chair for the 2021 LRI Rho II cohort.

Jeffery Williams

  • Jeffery Williams

    Williams, Jeffery

    Council, RI Board of Education Board Member, Jeffery Williams

The Very Reverend Doctor Jeffery A. Williams, a native of Englewood, New Jersey, and graduate of the famed A Better Chance Program at Simsbury High School (Simsbury, CT) whose forward-thinking ideals are helping to reshape the social and spiritual landscape of Rhode Island and beyond. In 1981, Williams attended Brown University (Providence, R.I.) and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Environmental Analysis, a concentration he personally created. In May 2007, Williams received his Doctor of Ministry degree in Urban Complex Settings from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Hamilton, MA. His completed dissertation entitled: Urban Leadership Development Through the Practical Truth University: A Case Study in the International Role and Practice of Metanoia for Personal and Community Transformation; is a manual for much of the work he does today. Dr. Williams graduated in 2010, with a Master's in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Williams was consecrated as Overseer of the New England Diocese by His Grace Donald Hilliard II, in 2008. He is married to Lelani (Bonner) Williams. Dr. Williams is an enthusiastic father of two daughters in college, Joy Victoria and Grace Noelle Williams.

His commitment to helping others understand the connection between principle and practice, led to the founding of the Cathedral of Life Christian Assembly in 1999, which is now called “The King's Cathedral.” Under Dr. Williams' leadership, the Cathedral now owns five properties, including a historic church located in the Olneyville Square neighborhood of Providence and has distributed over 70 tons of food and tens of thousands of articles of clothing, household goods and furniture to those in need. As Chief Empowerment Officer, his congregation in Providence has grown from nine members to well over 500 hundred, with 30 different ministries and programs. Internationally, Dr. Williams oversees 43 congregations in six nations and has established the Well-Life Project, which is the funding arm to create 12 freshwater wells in Kitwe, Zambia.

Dr. Williams has been a regular chapel speaker for the New England Patriots as well as other professional football and soccer teams since 2005.

Appointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education: June 2014

Reappointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education: January 2015

Term Expires: January 31, 2018

Reappointed: June 2018

Term Expires: January 2021

Reappointed: January 2021

Term Expires: January 2024