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Our Staff


Caroline Gangji

Executive Director

Caroline joined The Village Common of RI in September, 2021. Prior to this, she served as the Acting Executive Director at Age-Friendly RI, where she worked on issues important to Rhode Islanders as we age, including transportation, housing, food & nutrition, social isolation, civic engagement, supports to remain at home, healthcare, and outdoor spaces.

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Her previous experience includes working as a physical therapist, moving over to senior hospital administration and then healthcare consulting, and in her free time, volunteering in various sectors. Caroline has a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration, an MBA, and a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy.

She is thrilled to be the Executive Director of The Village Common of RI!

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Joseph Correia

Office Manager

Joseph began his multifaceted career in 1989 as Publications Director for Center for Health and Human Services in South Coast Massachusetts. He later worked with Pallotta Teamworks on its groundbreaking GTE Big Ride Across America, to benefit The American Lung Association, and its inaugural 1998 Texas AIDS Ride. In the 1990s, he joined Massachusetts Financial Services as a Production Manager in their publications department. By night, he was a tireless force in the development of independent music in Boston for 10 years, and dubbed “Boston’s Pop Impresario” by WBRU radio station.

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He has served as Director of Marketing and Communications for the New Bedford Symphony, Production Manager for the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, and Program Manager of “The Art of Chamber Music: Longy in the Berkshires.” Summer program for the Longy School of Music of Bard College.

Since 2007, has served as Publicist for The Monadnock Music Festival in New Hampshire, The North Shore Chamber Music Festival in Chicago, The Borromeo String Quartet, composer-pianist Lera Auerbach, and violinist Vadim Gluzman. He is the Director of Rhode Island Chamber Music Concerts and served as interim Director of What Cheer Flower Farm from 2020-21. Joseph holds a degree in Visual Design from The University of Massachusetts.

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Gabriella Laurenzo

Volunteer Coordinator

I joined The Village Common of RI in September, 2022 as a student intern. I first found out about TVC through my advisor at Rhode Island College who previously worked with Caroline Gangji during her time there. I finished my undergraduate program for healthcare administration in December, 2022 and will be starting classes to earn my Master of Science in healthcare administration in January of 2023.

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Prior to this, I have worked as a food service representative for four years and a patient care assistant for two years, both at The Village at Waterman Lake. My tasks included coordinating daily direct meal care services to residents in the facility while ensuring every person receives and eats meals based on their diet plans. As a PCA, I assisted residents with activities of daily living while preserving patient dignity and minimizing discomfort.

I’m excited to be a part of The Village Common of RI and look forward to working with our volunteers!

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Ana Lía Alcolea-Tassia

Bilingual Outreach Coordinator

I was an undocumented immigrant for more than twenty years, but this circumstance didn't stop me from getting involved in many organizations like the Latin American Film Festival, Rhode Island Latino Arts, ECAS Theater, to mention some. I also co-founded the Asociación Argentina de Rhode Island.
All these experiences gave me the knowledge of how important it is to be part of a community in order to get older with quality and dignity. Therefore, I am thrilled to be part of the team of The Village Common of RI.

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Fui una inmigrante indocumentada por más de veinte años, pero esta circunstancia no me detuvo para involucrarme en varias organizaciones como por ejemplo Providence Latin American Film Festival, Rhode Island Latino Arts, Teatro ECAS, por mencionar algunas. Y también Co-Fundé la Asociación Argentina de Rhode Island. Todas estas experiencias me dieron el conocimiento de lo importante que es ser parte de una comunidad en pos de envejecer con calidad y dignidad. Por eso estoy muy entusiasmada de formar parte del equipo de The Village Common of RI.

I’m excited to be a part of The Village Common of RI and look forward to working with our volunteers!

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Susan DeRita

Village Development Coordinator

I have a great deal of experience working in the nonprofit sector and in her community in Providence. I currently serve as Chairwoman of the Providence External Review Authority and previously as Development Officer at St. Mary’s Home for Children for 16 years. As someone who works with community members, I value the benefits The Village Common provides as a lifeline to many who may need support to remain in their home and are able to continue to be vital community members. A lifelong resident of Providence, I live with my husband Michael, and we have three children and a grandson.

Jenni Ugarte

Member Coordinator

I first learned about The Village Common through the United Way portal while perusing through a local magazine for activities and communities in Rhode Island. I initially joined as a volunteer, taking on the role of Volunteer Coordinator at Edgewood Village.

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I was born and raised in Guatemala. It wasn't until I turned 26 that I discovered my biological father and extended family in Colombia. This revelation prompted me to take a flight to meet them. Although my family is small, we share a strong bond despite the distance. I am married to the love of my life, who also happens to be the reason I moved to Rhode Island.

Over the past twelve years, I've gained experience in various fields, including customer service and international quality assurance at a telecommunications company, serving as a sales supervisor at a B2B technology company, and working as a territory sales manager in a cosmetics company. I hold a degree in Marketing and certificates in event planning and introductory photography.

I am constantly on the lookout for new challenges, and I'm excited to now be a part of The Village Common of Rhode Island team!

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Our Board

Wendy Oliver 
Board President

In 2015, I was part of the group of people who helped found the Providence Village. It was a busy time, and we had a lot of public meetings where we explained the village concept to all who attended. Many people were enthusiastic about this new endeavor. Now, I am amazed at how one Village has become four, with more in formation.

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I currently live in Oak Hill with my husband Cy O’Neil; we have a daughter, Shannon, who lives in Philadelphia, and a son, Lincoln, who lives in Oakland, California. Much of my career has been as a professor at Providence College, teaching dance and women’s & gender studies. In addition to teaching, I direct and choreograph for our student dance company, and do research on dance and dance education, which has resulted in several publications including books and articles. My leadership experience includes serving for 18 years as the Chair of the Dept. of Theatre, Dance, and Film, and as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Dance Education for seven years until the end of 2020.

Ever since our village began, I have served as the editor of its newsletter, which later became the Village Common Newsletter. I enjoy creating something each month that is useful and interesting for our members and volunteers, and am happy to have so many folks contributing to this collaborative effort. I am also co-chairing the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the Village Common with Marcus Mitchell. I look forward to joining the Board and furthering the work of the Village Common.

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Maureen Maigret

Board Vice President

As a strong promoter of efforts to help older adults live in their communities of choice I was delighted when I heard about Boston’s Beacon Hill Village. I hoped a similar program would be started in RI and followed the start and progress of The Providence Village with great interest.

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In 2017, Patrick Mattingly and I served on a conference panel, for THE THIRD AGE: The Role of Faith-based Communities in Elder Care. Patrick talked about the Providence Village and I shared findings from the Report of the Aging in Community Subcommittee of the Long-Term Care Coordinating Council which I Chair. Subsequently, I met with Patrick and Suzanne Francis to hear about the exciting plans to create The Village Common and was thrilled when the state grant to help implement it was awarded. I am impressed with the success of the Providence Village and fully support efforts to bring the "village" model to other communities through The Village Common. As the state population grows older, this mission to help older adults to live safe and healthy at home is more important than ever. I look forward to working with Board members and JoEllen Mistarz your able Executive Director to promote, enhance and sustain this work.

My professional work began in the healthcare sector working for 20 years as a Registered Nurse. The Women’s Movement of the 1970’s inspired me to run for office which began my second career working in public policy. Elected for five-terms to the Rhode Island House of Representatives from Warwick, I was the first woman appointed to the position of Deputy Speaker and successfully sponsored numerous legislative measures to improve health and human services, to foster women’s equality and to make government more transparent. I worked for a number of state officials in the administrative and policy areas and was Director of the Department of Elderly Affairs. Since retiring from state service in 2006, I work as a consultant on aging and long-term care policy and have authored several reports on the state’s older population. Currently, I Co-Chair the Long-Term Care Coordinating Council. My volunteer work includes co-leading the Office of Healthy Aging’s digiAGE Collaborative and providing policy consultation to the Senior Agenda Coalition. In addition to my RN diploma, my education background includes a BS degree from RI College and an MPA degree from URI.

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Bill Richardson 
Board Treasurer


I first learned of the Village Common concept from a friend. Subsequently, I became involved in with the Village in Barrington, where I have helped Individuals in the community with various tax issues.

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My wife, Janet, and I have three children including twins. We lived in Montreal after marriage, until 1984. We have lived in Barrington since coming to the United States in 1984. Our children continue to live in nearby states.


I graduated from McGill University in the Chartered Accountant (CA) program after completing my undergraduate degree. I completed the requirements for the Chartered Accountants certification at Coopers & Lybrand in Montreal.


Since obtaining my CA degree, I have worked with many private individuals and/or entities in different industries in Canada, the United States, and Europe on projects involving the management and/or restructuring of their affairs. My work brought me to the United States in 1984, where I continued to the same type of work.

Special Skills:

I like to work with individuals to acquire information, structure and record that information, so that clients may manage their affairs on a timely basis. At this point in my life, I focus primarily on tax and accounting issues.

Other Interests:

I enjoy music from the early fifties through the seventies. I also enjoy photography.

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Anne Connor 
Board Member

In 2015, a friend invited me to an information session where we first learned about the village movement. As newcomers to Providence, Sean and I were able to meet other like-minded adults in this community of mutual support. I was elected Secretary of the Board in 2016.

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My career has been varied: children’s librarian, legal administrator and paralegal. I attended college in the Midwest and received my MA at Columbia University. Community service is part of my family’s DNA so volunteerism has always been important. In addition to being on The Village Common Board (Secretary) and Fundraising Committee co-chair, I have served as former President of the Prudential Committee at The First Unitarian Church of Providence. I have been a public school mentor and library associate. I was elected a 2012 CD1 Delegate to the Democratic Convention.

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Sarah Cote

Board Member 

I first learned about Villages in 2020 while leading a task force for Age Friendly Westerly, as part of my work as the Program Director for the Jonnycake Center of Westerly’s Social Services department. With a desire to connect older adults to necessary services, and to each other, the Village was a perfect match. A year later, the Westerly Village was born!

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I am a licensed clinical social worker, published researcher, and lifelong Rhode Islander passionate about working with others to develop innovative, data-driven and person-centered policies and programs that meet the needs of community members. I currently hold the role of Initiative Director for the OneCranston Health Equity Zone at Comprehensive Community Action, Inc., where I oversee resident-driven work to address the root causes of health disparities in the Cranston community, in addition to developing and operating a family support center, The Huddle Center.

In my nearly 10 years in social work and non-profits, I have worked within a variety of contexts across Rhode Island including community and outpatient mental health, social services, research, public health, hospitals, and grant writing. I have continued to root on the Westerly Village and am honored to now be a Board Member.

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Suzanne Francis 
Board Member

My first encounter with the Village Movement was an article about the launch of the Beacon Hill Village in Boston. I was fascinated by the idea. A decade or so later, I attended an information session for a Village in Providence. I was “hooked” on the Village concept and was determined to be actively involved. I became a board member in 2017 and was elected an Officer in 2018.

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My work life includes jobs in the public, not-for-profit and private sectors – starting with three years at the Urban Redevelopment Authority in Pittsburgh after college. Later my husband and I moved to Rochester, MN, where I started and ran two innovative childcare programs. Those experiences led me to the Yale School of Management to learn more about managing organizations. I joined Xerox Corporation as part of a new business start-up and later worked for the Xerox Foundation, with responsibility for funding Community and Women’s Programs. In 1986 I joined Schaffer Consulting in Stamford, CT and spent nearly 30 years working with large and small organizations to plan and implement complex changes. Being a Village member, volunteer and member of the Board during the creation of the Village Common has been an exciting way to start my retirement.

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Steven J. Horowitz

Board Member 

Steven J. Horowitz is the Retired President and Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Elizabeth Community. Saint Elizabeth Community is a non-profit, non-sectarian, charitable organization that provides a full spectrum of quality care to older adults and people with physical disabilities. Services include apartments for independent seniors, adult day services, affordable assisted living, Greenhouse Home, skilled nursing and rehab, and skilled and nonskilled home care. Horowitz was responsible for the starting of Saint Elizabeth Haven, a shelter for abused elders. It was the 4th such program in the country. Services and Supports at Home (SASH) provides services for elders in housing was another program developed.

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Horowitz assumed his current role in 1998, having been promoted from executive director of the Saint Elizabeth Community. He originally joined the organization in 1985 as an administrator. Prior to joining the Saint Elizabeth Community, he was the assistant director of the Jewish Home for the Aged of Rhode Island.

Throughout his career, Horowitz has dedicated himself to improving the quality of life for all aging Americans. Horowitz held various officer positions and was chair of the LeadingAge RI. He served as delegate to the LeadingAge National for three separate terms and he was on Board of Directors for the national office. Horowitz currently is on the Board of the Boys & Girls Club of Warwick. Horowitz has volunteered as a member of the board of directors and was an original founder and Board Chair of CareLink, a management services organization working with different nonprofits serving seniors.

A graduate of the State University of New York in Stony Brook with a degree in economics, Horowitz also obtained his master’s degree in business administration from Long Island University where he concentrated his studies in healthcare administration. In 2011, he completed a course in in Post Graduate Studies at Harvard University- John F. Kennedy School of Government in Governance as Leadership. Horowitz is a graduate of Leadership Rhode Island.

Steve has had an interest in the Village Movement ever since he visited Beacon Hill over ten years ago. .He thinks the time is right for this movement as it is seen by the success of the Village Movement in RI.

A native New Yorker, Steve lives in Warwick with his wife, Grace and he is an avid sports fan and enjoys reading mysteries.

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Jim Maxwell 
Board Member

I first heard about Providence Village in March 2015 when I attended an informational session about it. I was drawn to the mission of the Village, and based on my professional career prior to retirement,

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I judged I could provide support in a number of areas that would be valuable to the organization. I felt this work would be rewarding to me personally, and it has proven to be so. I was elected to the Providence Village Board in 2015 and elected as an officer in 2017.

I moved to Providence to join the senior staff of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) in September 1984 after having spent 14 years as a professor in the Department of Mathematics at Oklahoma State University. During my time at AMS, I managed the programs and services that the AMS provides to its 30,000 individual members primarily located at colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada and the rest of the developed world. Support of the governing boards and committees of the AMS, also a non-profit organization, was a major part of my responsibility.

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Susan McCalmont

Board Member 

I first heard about the Village Movement and the Providence Village at a brown bag lunch sponsored by the Life Long Learning Community. Afterwards I happened to catch the eye of a friend, a Providence Village member, who suggested I get involved and immediately signed me up as driver. That was 2015, and I’ve been a driver ever since.

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I also joined the effort in 2018 to develop a local village in Barrington. I serve on the Barrington Village Steering Committee and on the Village Common Board as Barrington Village’s representative.

I've lived in Rhode Island for 50 years, most of that time in Barrington. I'm retired now but worked over 30 years for the RI Supreme Court in charge of planning, an interesting role requiring a Master's Degree in Public Administration.

Since retirement I’ve had the opportunity to travel extensively, mostly for birdwatching. I’ve also been active in the community as a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate in Family Court, as the treasurer of the Barrington Democratic Town Committee, as a participant in the Life Long Learning Community, as a driver for the Providence Village and as an organizer in creating a Barrington Village.

My husband and I have two daughters who live on the other side of the country, Oregon and New Mexico. They are both in the health care field providing primary care to underserved populations. We wish they were closer but are glad they chose great places to visit and are doing such important work.

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Marcus Mitchell 
Board Member


Marcus Mitchell is the founder of a strategic solutions company with focus areas in crisis management, small business start-ups, continuity of operations and conflict resolution. He was appointed as RI AARP State President in 2022, serves on the Miriam Hospital Board of Trustees, and on the board of directors of Grow Smart RI, the Village Common, and the RI Environmental Educators Association. He is a Commissioner on the RI Commission for Human Rights and a member of the RI Statewide Planning Council.

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Marcus was the founding president of the Providence Community Library, the founding president of the National Urban League Young Professionals, which has dozens of chapters and thousands of members across the country, and president of Fellowship Farm, an historic international human relations training facility.

Marcus is co-author of more than 15 scientific publications during a twenty-year career as a cardiovascular sciences researcher; an editor of the book, “Biotechnology: Business, Regulation & Law”; and a staunch community advocate locally and nationally.

The Providence Village and now The Village Common, has been important to me since its early days. As a resident of Providence with a long-standing interest in the welfare of our community, I was eager to learn more about what this community of mutual support could do for older adults. Phil West invited me to join the Advisory Council several years ago and I’m pleased to be invited to join TVC’s Board this year. Recently, I agreed to co-chair the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of the Board with Wendy Oliver.

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Michael Moore
Board Member


I became involved in the village concept through my wife who, after a lifelong career in non-profit organizations and a degree in Gerontology, founded the Edgewood Village. I am on the steering committee for that village and have served on the board of The Village Common of Rhode Island since early 2021.

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After graduating from the University of Louisville in 1971 (BA Humanities) and Indiana University at Bloomington in 1975 (MFA Photography and Printmaking) and realizing that my teaching career was not unfolding as I had hoped, I moved to Rhode Island to begin a marketing career.

Starting in the advertising business with Creamer consumer products, I was eventually brought back to RI to work for PotterHazlehurst on the AT Cross business eventually becoming responsible for Account Service and Business Development.

After 14 years in advertising, I jumped to the client side with DAVOL to continue my marketing career in product management in the medical device space. Continuing with CIRCON in Santa Barbara, CA and then Candela in Wayland, MA where I finished my career as VP International Marketing. I retired in 2011.

I have always had a love for precision in communications, earning the moniker “Captain Syntax” and several less polite variations thereof. I have a modicum of graphic expertise stemming from my time in graduate school and from managing the creative function during my marketing career.

My non-profit board experience has been with the Montessori School of East Providence, which was a working board and RIVERZEDGE ARTS which was an advisory board primarily. I have volunteered for AMOS HOUSE and for SENIOR AGENDA RI.

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Elizabeth O'Dea

Board Member 

Elizabeth O’Dea is currently serving as Director of Community Engagement at Horizon Healthcare Partners (HHP) Behavioral Health Link (BH Link). The entire span of her work career has been dedicated to being an advocate for marginalized, underserved populations. Serving for 10 years as Director of the Poverello Center, a Food and Wellness Center located in Providence, Elizabeth supervised all operations and aspects of this program. Over her directorship, the program expanded and increased dramatically in scope and services rendered. She performed needs assessment, case management as well as assisting program participants with dental, medical and housing assistance.

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She also managed a staff of thirty plus employees and volunteers as well as marketing the program for numerous, successful fundraising events. Prior to HHP, her most recent position was with the Rhode Island Community Food Bank (RICFB) for 8 ½ years. Her facilitation of community meetings, workshops, trainings and activities was integral to her work as liaison between the RICFB and all member agencies. In addition to her role as Director of Community Engagement at the Horizon Healthcare Partners/Behavioral Health Link (the partner agencies are: CODAC, Newport Mental Health, Child & Family, Community Care Alliance, THRIVE Behavioral Health, Galilee Mission, Family Services), she continues in her position as liaison to the RI Office of Healthy Aging. She works closely with the RI Adult Protective Services and has recently accepted the position of vice-chairperson of the RI Elder Justice Coalition. She brings a wealth of experience and passion to her work with the older population in Rhode Island, which factors in greatly with the vision and mission of The Village Common Rhode Island.

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Michelle Rivera

Board Member 

I started working at Progreso Latino with the senior population in 2022. Shortly after, I met Caroline and learned about the amazing organization she was a part of and was very inspired. I knew then that I wanted to be involved with The Village Common of RI in some way.

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Family: My family moved to NYC from Puerto Rico when I was 3 years old. I was raised in Brooklyn and moved with my mother and siblings to Providence so that we could be with family when I was 14. I have an older brother and two younger sisters. As an avid animal lover I am the proud pet parent of a gorgeous 12 year old tortoiseshell cat and a loving 5 year old Chihuahua mix.

Education: I went on to Rhode Island College (RIC) for my Bachelors in Justice Studies and double majored in Sociology. I found a passion in Sociology and decided to help people through Social Work and went to the RIC School of Social Work for a Masters in Social Work.

Work: After high school I enlisted in the Army and served one deployment in the middle-east. Before enrolling in graduate school I worked at Harmony Hill School for two years. At harmony hill school as an assistant residential counselor I helped foster a safe environment for youth while they received specialized treatment and education. I realized that I could make a bigger difference for the youth as a clinician. While in graduate school I interned at Raices Dual Language Academy and then at the Providence VA Medical Center. After obtaining my MSW I started working at Progreso Latino in 2022 as the Policy and Research Director in hopes to create systematic changes throughout Rhode Island.

Special Skills: I have a passion for helping people. I have a thirst for knowledge and enjoy reading policies, legislation, and research. I am great at being objective and helping to explore multiple angles in a variety of situations. As someone who is constantly learning and growing, I am receptive of feedback and am able to learn and adapt in order to avoid making the same mistakes. I admire honesty and can sometimes be too honest, always with good intentions and with the goal of learning and growth.

Other Interests: I love animals and nature. I am a novice bird watcher. I dabble a bit in music and enjoy classical music. I also have a great appreciation for the arts. I enjoy crafting, cooking, and painting. I am an amateur urban wildlife photographer.

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Our Advisory Council

Betty Bernal
Alison Croke
Kevin Hackman

Beverly Ledbetter

Marcus Mitchell
Paula Parker

Herbert Rakatansky

Janie Seguí Rodríguez

Corrine Carlisle Russo
Barbara Sokoloff

Bill Twaddell