Equity Leadership Initiative cohort members

Michael Cancilliere and Francisco Lovera 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

Michael Cancilliere and Francisco Lovera of Barrington have 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.

Michael Cancilliere is Executive Director of Massachusetts Programs at Meeting Street School. Previously, he was the Chief Operating Officer at The Groden Network, a multi-state organization dedicated to serving children and adults on the autism spectrum.

“One of the things I am most looking forward to is the opportunity to meet other leaders in the community and be able to share my experiences and collaborate on ways to increase diversity and equity in workforce in RI."

- Michael Cancilliere

He serves on the board of directors of The Providence Community Health Center and the Massachusetts Association of Approved Special Education Schools and the steering committee for the Southcoast Coalition for Early Childhood Education. He earned a BS in Psychology at Grove City College, an MA in Community Counseling from Slippery Rock University and an MBA at the University of Rhode Island. He is also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

Francisco Lovera is a Project Manager with McMahon Associates in Lincoln. Previously, he was a Chief Civil Engineer with the state Department of Transportation.

"I'm excited and humbled to be part of the first cohort of the Rhode Island Foundation's Equity Leadership Initiative. I look forward to meeting some of the future leaders of Rhode Island as our voices gain space and are able to better represent the diversity of our state."

- Francisco Lovera

While with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), Lovera held several responsibilities such as traffic engineering, managing the state’s Highway Safety Programs (NHTSA) and public outreach, including to community-based organizations. During his early years at RIDOT, Lovera worked as a docent in the RISD Museum leading tours in Spanish. He also taught conversational Spanish.

Lovera chairs the Board of Directors of The Avenue Concept and serves as President of the Board of Trustees of the International Charter School. He earned a BS in Civil Engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City.

Cancilliere, Lovera 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, Madeline Burke, Krystal Carvalho, Angelyne Cooper, Steve Craddock, David Dankwah, Rupa Datta, Nwando Egbuche Ofokansi, Yvonne Heredia, Teddi Jallow, Stacy Jones, Silvermoon Mars LaRose, 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.