Equity Leadership Initiative cohort members

Madeline Burke selected for inaugural Equity Leadership Initiative class

Goal is to build a pipeline of Asian, Black, Hispanic or Latino, Indigenous and multi-racial future leaders in established positions of influence throughout the state

Madeline Burke of East Greenwich has been selected to participate in the inaugural class of the Rhode Island Foundation's Equity Leadership Initiative (ELI). Through the program, the Foundation will build a pipeline of Asian, Black, Hispanic or Latino, Indigenous or multi-racial future leaders for positions of influence throughout the state.

“I am excited to get to work to cultivate the next generation of industry leaders – bank presidents, hospital CEOs, leaders in academia and kindergarten through 12 education, corporate executives, policy-makers, judges and more – who are people of color,” said Angie Ankoma, ELI executive director and a vice president at the Foundation.

Burke is Interim Director of Special Projects at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), where she serves as the campus lead for the Providence campus and the college’s liaison with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). In partnership with RIDE and many other community-based partners, she oversees student academic success and early college initiatives.

“I’m looking forward to working as a group to examine root causes of some of the systemic inequalities we are hoping to reverse, and that my Equity Leadership cohort would be a group that is dedicated to actively supporting each other in problem-solving and developing creative solutions to help us all better serve our communities."

- Madeline Burke

Burke is an active member of the President’s leadership cabinet and serves on CCRI’s diversity, equity and inclusion council. She earned a BA in History and an MA in Secondary Education and Teaching at Ithaca College.

“This past year I had the opportunity to lead the development of a new dual enrollment program for Providence high school seniors. The program focuses on equitable outcomes by providing a pathway to post-secondary success for students who would not normally be eligible for early college opportunities. The program offers students holistic support to ensure their best chance of success and accelerate their college completion goals. In our first year, students earned an average of 18 college credits and 82 percent of the students are continuing at CCRI or a four-year institution,” she said.

Previous to that, she spent more than 10 years at Year Up, most recently as Director of Program, where she oversaw multiple teams focused on academics, internship services and employment placement.

“It is my firm belief that talent is equally distributed among all Rhode Islanders, no matter their race, but access to opportunity is not equally distributed. My long-term goals are to help our state becomes a place where all young adults have the ability to achieve their full potential and pursue economic mobility, and where all students have access to college degree or a post-secondary credential of their choosing,” she said.

Burke and the other members of the inaugural class were selected from nearly 100 applicants. Members identify as Asian, Black, Hispanic or Latino, Indigenous or multi-racial. Nearly 75 percent identify as women. Members of the cohort work across a variety of sectors.

The 12-month leadership development initiative is scheduled to begin in September. In addition to monthly half-day group meetings, participants will receive regular one-to-one coaching sessions, will develop a personal leadership vision and goals; will be matched with a mentor and will make high-level connections across industries.

The other participants are Adetola Abiade, Adewole Akinbi, Rose Albert, Janelle Amoako, Ana Barraza, Doris Blanchard, Michael Cancilliere, Krystal Carvalho, Angelyne Cooper, Steve Craddock, David Dankwah, Rupa Datta, Nwando Egbuche Ofokansi, Yvonne Heredia, Teddi Jallow, Stacy Jones, Silvermoon Mars LaRose, Francisco Lovera, Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies, Ray Nuñez, Monsurat Ottun, Alisha Pina, Manuela Raposo, Victoria Rodriguez, Juan Rodriguez, Rosedelma Seraphin, Kajette Solomon, Edward Tavarez, Carla Wahnon and Kilah Walters-Clinton.

The leadership program is just one facet of the Rhode Island Foundation’s broad, 3-year, $8.5 million plan to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and access – with a first focus on racial equity – above and beyond its traditional yearly grant-making.

Recent work includes creating a capacity-building program to support nonprofits led by Asian, Black, Hispanic or Latino, Indigenous or multi-racial executive directors or other decision-makers within an organization; and launching a grant program to help nonprofits create anti-racist organizational cultures.

“Eliminating disparities and inequities is among our core values, and is a major focus across all of our work in the community. We use a racial equity lens while making decisions about allocating resources to improve health, educational success and economic security among other critical issues."

- Neil D. Steinberg, Foundation president & CEO

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $68 million and awarded a record $87 million in grants in 2020. Since its centennial five years ago, the Foundation has awarded more than $284 million in grants and has raised more than $328 million. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.