Equity Leadership Initiative cohort members

Stacy Jones and Silvermoon Mars LaRose 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

Stacy Jones of Westerly and Silvermoon Mars LaRose of Charlestown 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.

Jones teaches English at W. M. Davies Career and Technical High School in Lincoln. Most recently, she has served as the school’s Diversity Committee Chair and secured: a two-year, $10,000.00 SEL Innovation Fund grant for classroom instruction, professional development and school culture in the critical areas of cultural competency, social-emotional learning and equity.

“It is time to stop marketing diversity and start implementing it."

- Stacy Jones

Jones earned an Ed.M in School Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, an MAT in secondary education at Clark University and an MA in Journalism at New York University.

Previous to her career in education, Jones was a reporter at The Providence Journal, the Roanoke Times and Editor & Publisher.

LaRose is the Assistant Director of the Tomaquag Museum, where she assists in the management of the museum, its collections and archives, cultural education programs and Indigenous Empowerment projects.

"It is imperative that we have Indigenous representation in all spaces to insure visibility and advocacy of the needs dearest to our communities. If I am to be of service to others, I need to learn how to use my voice with authority and a vision towards unity. I look forward to working with other like-minded individuals as we strive to be a support to our communities."

- Silvermoon Mars LaRose

A Charlestown resident and citizen of the Narragansett tribe, LaRose earned a BA in Sociology with a minor in Justice Law and Society from the University of Rhode Island and has partially completed a master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from Western Washington University.

LaRose has worked in tribal communities for more than 20 years, serving in the areas of health and human services and education. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to travel extensively, learning from Indigenous communities throughout the United States.

LaRose said she "hopes to foster Indigenous empowerment through education, community building, and the sharing of cultural knowledge and traditional arts.”

The cohort was 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, Michael Cancilliere, Krystal Carvalho, Angelyne Cooper, Steve Craddock, David Dankwah, Rupa Datta, Nwando Egbuche Ofokansi, Yvonne Heredia, Teddi Jallow, 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 and 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.