Council Members

Barbara Cottam, Chair, Board of Education

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Barbara Cottam is executive vice president, Rhode Island market executive and head of Corporate Affairs at Citizens Bank. She has corporate-wide responsibility for directing government affairs, public affairs, corporate giving and marketing sponsorships throughout the company's commercial and retail banking footprint. In addition, she serves as chairman of the Citizens Charitable Foundation.

Cottam joined Citizens in 1994 as Rhode Island director of Public Affairs after 12 years in senior policy and communications positions in state and municipal government.  She was responsible for directing media, social media and public relations; government affairs; public affairs; corporate giving and marketing sponsorships.  Previously, she had been director of communications and press secretary to Rhode Island Governor Bruce Sundlun from 1991 to 1994.

Cottam is chairman of the Rhode Island Board of Education and is a member of the Rhode Island Commodores, a group of business and civic leaders appointed by the governor.  She serves on the Providence College President's Council as a member of the strategic planning committee of the college's board of trustees.  Cottam is a member of the board of directors of Crossroads Rhode Island and serves on the La Salle Academy board of trustees.  She is a former vice chairman and present executive member of the board of directors of Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island and an executive member of the board of directors of the Rhode Island Zoological Society.  She was a founding member of the board of directors of Rhode Island Kids Count and served in that capacity for 10 years, the last three as chairman.

Cottam received her B.S. in business marketing and business management from Providence College and has completed executive development programs at Harvard Business School, INSEAD and Wharton's Aresty Institute.

Appointed to the Board of Education: January 2015

Term Expires: Serves at the pleasure of the Governor 


Dennis Duffy, Esq., Chairman, Council on Postsecondary Education

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Dennis Duffy is Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for Energy Management, Inc., a Boston based-energy infrastructure development firm and is responsible for the company’s regulatory and legislative affairs, legal strategy and industry trade group relations.

Duffy has more than twenty-five years of experience as a corporate and regulatory attorney in New England. He has also served as special counsel to the Rhode Island Energy Facility Board and was formerly a partner in the law firm of Partridge, Snow & Hahn.                                                   

Duffy is also an adjunct professor at Boston College Law School. He is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and Columbia University Law School.    

Appointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education: June 2014

Term Expires: January 31, 2017

Appointed as Chairman: March 2022.  


Rachelle R. Green, Esq.

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Rachelle Green, Esq., is a founding partner at Cervenka Green & Ducharme LLC, specializing in litigation and employment law. She previously was a Partner at Duffy & Sweeney, LTD for fourteen years, after working as an associate attorney at McGovern, Noel & Benik, and then at Holland & Knight. Green earned her law degree from the Georgia State University College of Law, finishing her last year at Northwestern University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of the Holy Cross.

Green is a former President and member of the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State, and a member of the Executive Leadership Team for the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women and the Rhode Island Public Radio Community Advisory Board. She has served in advisory and volunteer capacities in numerous other non-profit organizations in Rhode Island since she moved here in 1998.

Appointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education: June 2016

Term Expires: January 31, 2023


Hon. Thomas Izzo

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In January of 2003, Senator Izzo completed fourteen years of service in the Rhode Island State Senate, having first been elected in 1988. He served as Chair of the Committee on Health, Education and Welfare, and served on both HEW and the Committee on Finance throughout his tenure in the Senate. As chairman, and prior as vice chairman, of the Permanent Legislative Oversight Commission on the Department of Children, Youth and Families he sponsored significant child welfare reform legislation as well as legislation regarding adoption, termination of parental rights, juvenile justice and the creation of the Children’s Cabinet. Senator Izzo also was the prime sponsor of successful legislation dealing with youth access to tobacco, Rite Care, childhood lead poisoning, affordable housing, contractor registration, and the creation of charter schools.  Additionally Senator Izzo co-chaired the 2000 Special Commission on Health Care Reform and the Rhode Island System of Care Task Force. 

Senator Izzo served three terms as the Senate representative on the RI Board of Governors for Higher Education, where he chaired the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs. In the past he has served as a board member of Adoption RI, Hope, Alzheimer Center, Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, the Childhood Lead Action Project, and RI Kids Count.  He presently serves on the Board of Directors of Healthcentric Advisors, serves as the Community Chairman of the RI Global Waiver Implementation Task Force and is a member of the Coastal Medical ACO Advisory Committee.

Completing an undergraduate degree in education at Rhode Island College and an MA degree from New York University, Senator Izzo retired from the Cranston Public Schools in 1997 after thirty-two years as a junior high and middle school teacher, guidance counselor and as an Assistant Principal for Student Services.

In recognition of his legislative efforts, Senator Izzo has received a number of awards from such diverse groups as the American Cancer Society, United Way of RI, the Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Rhode Island College Alumni Association, Rhode Island Housing, the American Heart Association, the College Board, the RI Coalition for the Homeless, Childhood Lead Action Project, the RI Department of Health, and Life Span.

Appointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education:  June 2014

Term Expires:  January 31, 2022


Michael Mello

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Michael Mello is Vice President Global Government Relations & U.S. Business Development, where he is responsible for protecting and expanding existing business and pursuing new business opportunities. He manages the company’s global network of government relations consultants and all international, federal, and state political efforts. Mike has been working with IGT in the government relations department since December 2006. For nearly 20 years, Mike Mello has had an active career in politics and government.

In 1994, Mike was named the District Director in Rhode Island for U.S. Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy where he managed the congressman’s Rhode Island office and served as the chief liaison between the Rhode Island and Washington offices. From 1998-2002, he was the Chief of Staff to former Rhode Island General Treasurer Paul J. Tavares. While serving in the General Treasurer’s office, Mike was the Treasurer’s principal advisor on all policy, planning, and strategy; and was responsible for managing nearly 100 employees and managers in the four different departments of the Treasury.

From 2002-2006, Mike was the Chief of Staff to Providence Mayor David Cicilline. As the Mayor’s top advisor, he supervised staff and operations for the City with a $550 million budget, more than 5,000 employees, and 176,000 residents. Mike left the Mayor’s Office in 2006 to become President of the Rhode Island Independent Higher Education Association before joining IGT in 2006 as the Senior Director of Global Government Relations.

Mike graduated from the University of Roger Williams in Bristol, R.I. with a bachelor’s degree in public administration.

Appointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education: July 2021

Term Expires:  January 31, 2023


Marianne F. Monte

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As Chief People Officer, Marianne Monte drives human resources and business strategy for Shawmut Design and Construction, a $1.2 billion construction firm with nine offices nationwide. She is a strategic human resources executive with a proven track record in effective executive coaching, talent management, and business partner leadership. Her leadership was integral to Shawmut being named a back-to-back Best Workplace by FORTUNE Magazine. Recently, Marianne co-hosted a webinar with the CEO of MindGym titled, “Constructing Success: The Talent Story at Shawmut.”

Prior to joining Shawmut, Marianne was the vice president of human resources at the Hanover Insurance Group and a senior vice president at BankRI. She also served on the transition team for Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo.

In addition to her work with Shawmut, she serves on The Gordon School Board. Monte formerly served on the Rhode Island Retirement Board, where she was appointed by Rhode Island General Treasurer, Seth Magaziner. She also spends time volunteering with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). Marianne is a Providence College graduate, and has a juris doctor degree from Suffolk University. She was the recipient of the 2017 Providence Business News C-Suite Chief Human Resources Officer Award.

Appointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education:  June 2018

Term Expires:  January 31, 2023


Dr. Jeffery A. Williams

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The Very Reverend Doctor Jeffery A. Williams is a native of Englewood, New Jersey, and a graduate of the famed A Better Chance Program at Simsbury High School (Simsbury, CT). In 1981, Williams attended Brown University (Providence, RI) and graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Social Environmental Analysis, a concentration he personally created. In May 2007, Williams received his Doctorate of Ministry degree in Urban Complex Settings from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Hamilton, MA). His completed dissertation, entitled, "Urban Leadership Development Through the Practical Truth University: A Case Study in the International Role and Practice of Metanoia for Personal and Community Transformation," is a manual for much of the work he does today. Dr. Williams graduated in 2010 with a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Williams was consecrated as Overseer of the New England Diocese by His Grace Donald Hilliard II in 2008. He is married to Lelani (Bonner) Williams. Dr. Williams is an enthusiastic father of two daughters in college, Joy Victoria and Grace Noelle Williams.

His commitment to helping others understand the connection between principle and practice led to the founding of the Cathedral of Life Christian Assembly in 1999, which is now called "The King's Cathedral." Under Dr. Williams's leadership, the Cathedral now owns five properties, including a historic church located in the Olneyville Square neighborhood of Providence and has distributed over 70 tons of food and tens of thousands of articles of clothing, household goods and furniture to those in need. As Chief Empowerment Officer, his congregation in Providence has grown from nine members to well over 500 hundred, with 30 different ministries and programs. Internationally, Dr. Williams oversees 43 congregations in six nations and has established the The Well-Life Project, which is the funding arm to create 12 fresh water wells in Kitwe, Zambia.

Dr. Williams has been a regular chapel speaker for the New England Patriots as well as other professional football and soccer teams since 2005.

Appointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education: June 2014

Reappointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education: June 2018

Term Expires: January 31, 2024 

Ana Duarte Spencer

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Ana is the student representative of the Council on Postsecondary Education. A student at Community College of Rhode Island, she is majoring in business. She works at Fidelity as a transaction processor and recently completed Year One, a career development and higher education program that includes college-level courses, professional training, and a six-month internship. She is fluent in four languages.

Appointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education: May 2022

Term Expires: May, 2024