Media release

2020 Murray Family Prize honors Marie Ghazal

As executive director of the Rhode Island Free Clinic, Ghazal has helped thousands of struggling Rhode Islanders obtain affordable health care.

The 2020 Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Rhode Island Foundation has been awarded to Marie Ghazal, executive director of the Rhode Island Free Clinic in Providence.

With the honor, Ghazal received $50,000 in recognition of her long commitment to helping Rhode Islanders with cultural and language barriers and economic challenges obtain affordable health care. There are no restrictions on the use of the money.

“Marie’s passionate commitment to serving the community around her is an inspiring standard for others to follow. We take enormous pride in honoring her for her drive and her achievements,” said Paula McNamara, daughter of Terrence and Suzanne Murray, who along with her family established the Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Foundation.

Marie Ghazal
Marie Ghazal

A resident of Rumford, Ghazal has been executive director of the R.I. Free Clinic since 2010. Under her leadership, the Providence nonprofit organization has expanded access to health care, dental care, specialty services and training to provide 10,000 patient visits annually, as well as opening a COVID-19 test site this year.

“I have dedicated my nursing public health career to increasing access to health care for those in need. I am deeply honored to be recognized by the Murray Family for the impact my work has made in addressing inequalities in health care in our state, especially in our minority and underserved communities,” said Ghazal.

A corps of more than 800 volunteer doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and medical support staff help provide care. In addition, Ghazal has successfully secured the partnership of key partners including CVS Health, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Amica among many others.

“What could be a better purpose in one’s life than working with R.I. Free Clinic staff, volunteers, donors and partners who are so deeply committed to our mission and making someone’s life happier and healthier?"

- Marie Ghazal

Ghazal serves on the Rhode Island Action Coalition’s Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action and has also served in leadership positions at Providence Community Health Centers, Blackstone Valley Community Action Program, Central Falls Health Center and the Pawtucket Heart Health Program.

“It is important to celebrate the positive contributions of Rhode Islanders like Marie who are striving diligently and humbly to serve others,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are grateful to the Murray family for honoring the remarkable leaders whose dedication improves the lives of those around them and provides hope.”

The Murray Family Prize was launched in 2017. The previous recipients are the late Rob DeBlois, founder of the UCAP School in Providence; Joe Garlick, executive director of NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley in Woonsocket; and Eileen Hayes, executive director of Amos House in Providence.

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 $47 million and awarded $56 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2019. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.