Media release

Rhode Island Foundation adds staff as support of the community grows

The Foundation’s commitment to Rhode Island remains strong as it addresses the pandemic and inclusion while maintaining the core programs and services that are at the heart of its mission

The Rhode Island Foundation has announced three new additions to its staff. The growth comes as the Foundation addresses the COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining and building the core programs and services that are at the heart of its mission.

“The Foundation was founded in 1916. We’ve been through world wars, the Great Depression, the Great Recession and come out of every challenge stronger than before. Our commitment is to serve Rhode Islanders in perpetuity. That requires investment in staff to meet future challenges and opportunities,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO.

Bruce Keeler and Christine Pellegri join the Foundation as senior philanthropic advisors as it comes off its fourth-best fundraising year ever in 2019, reporting $47 million in new gifts from individual, family, organizational and corporate donors. They will be responsible for inspiring philanthropy with new prospects and current donors by providing charitable planning advice and high-level relationship management and customer service.

Bruce Keeler

Keeler has more than 20 years of fundraising experience. Most recently, he was director of development at the Archeological Society of America, where he managed all aspects of its fundraising activities, including major, annual and planned giving. Previous to that, he held fundraising positions at Brown University and Roger Williams University. He also practiced law for several years in his home state of Ohio before beginning his fundraising career in Rhode Island.

The Cumberland resident earned an AB in political science at Brown University and a JD from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where he was senior editor of its Journal of Law-Medicine. He has volunteered as a coach and a board member of youth sports organizations.

Christine Pellegri

Pellegri, CFRE, is a Certified Fund Raising Executive with more than 25 years of fund development experience. Most recently, she was senior advancement officer at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where she served as the liaison to the Charlton College of Business and the College of Engineering and raised funds for strategic needs and built partnerships with alumni, friends and area corporations.

The Cumberland resident is a past president of the R.I. chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She is a member of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of R.I., the national Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Bristol County Estate Planning Council.

Pellegri earned a BS in Spanish at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Master of Public Administration at Bridgewater State University.

Sean Festsa

Sean Festa joins the Foundation as a senior accountant. Most recently, Sean was the assistant director of financial records for the Worcester State Foundation, where he managed its finances among other duties.

Festa earned a BS in business administration and an MS in management at Worcester State University, both with a concentration in accounting.

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 a record $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.