8/13/21: Per Executive Order, all visitors to Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, Westerly Education Center and R.I. Nursing Education Center must wear a face mask until further notice.

Senior Staff

  • Shannon Gilkey, Commissioner
  • Tammy Vargas Warner, Ph.D., Assistant Commissioner of Postsecondary Academic and Student Affairs
  • Susan Mansolillo, Chief Financial Officer
  • Amy Grzybowski, Executive Director, RI Higher Education & Industry Centers
  • Kimberly Bright, Chief of Staff/Interim Executive Director, Rhode Island Nursing Education Center
  • Beth Bailey, Director of Communications
  • Catherine McConnell, Director of Strategic Initiatives
  • Anne Marie Coleman, J.D., Director of Labor Relations
  • Ron Cavallaro, J.D., General Counsel


Shannon Gilkey, Ed.D.

Dr. Shannon Gilkey is the Rhode Island Commissioner on Postsecondary Education. Most recently, he was vice chancellor of academics and workforce development at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System as well as a senior policy advisor for economic and workforce development for the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. He oversaw Kentucky's career and technical programs (CTE), workforce training, and professional development and innovation for the state’s 16 colleges serving 100,000 students.

Commissioner Gilkey earned an Ed.D., in leadership, higher education from Western Kentucky University, a Ed.M. in higher and postsecondary education from Teachers College, Columbia University; a M.Sc. in education studies and higher education from University of Oxford, St. Peters College, Oxford; and B.S. in agricultural science from Murray State University. A frequenter lecturer and speaker, he has addressed the Lumina State Policy Convening; NEASC, AASCU, AACC College Readiness Commission, College Promise Campaign, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Tammy Vargas Warner, Ph.D.
Assistant Commissioner of Postsecondary Academic and Student Affairs 

Tammy Vargas Warner is the assistant commissioner for postsecondary academic and student affairs for the State of Rhode Island. In this role, she oversees academic program quality, evaluation, and policy for Rhode Island's system of public postsecondary education and proprietary schools approved by the Council on Postsecondary Education. Prior to joining OPC, Tammy served as assistant dean in the Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies at University of Rhode Island. With over 15 years of higher education experience and a passion for innovation and change, Tammy's professional interests focus on ways to improve pathways to degree completion for all college students and the ways in which systemic leadership plays a role on organizational capacity for student success. As a critical quantitative scholar, her research interests include the role of racialized classroom environments, faculty interactions, and systemic inequities on success and outcomes measures for students of color. 

Tammy received her Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Massachusetts Boston. She earned a B.S. and M.S. in human development from University of Rhode Island. Prior to transitioning into higher education, Tammy enjoyed a successful management career in the textile industry.


Susan Mansolillo
Chief Financial Officer

Susan Mansolillo is the chief financial officer for the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner. She served as the chief financial officer of Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England from 2014 to 2019, and prior to that she served as the head of finance and administration for the Audubon Society of Rhode Island for 25 years.

Susan serves as a member of the Johnston School Committee, and on the board of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Commission.

She graduated from Providence College with a B.S. in accounting and is certified by RIDE as a business administrator. 


Amy Grzybowski
Executive Director, R.I. Higher Education & Industry Centers 

Amy Grzybowski is the executive director of OPC's R.I. Higher Education & Industry Centers. She is responsible for the operation and oversight of Westerly Education Center, a public-private partnership, postsecondary facility. She has successfully pioneered and implemented numerous innovative partnerships that have resulted in credit- and certificate-bearing postsecondary education and workforce development credentials for thousands of students. She also serves as the workforce development policy director for RIOPC, and is the interim director of the Governor's Workforce Board.

Amy earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in administration of justice from Salve Regina University. A certified emergency manager, Amy also serves as the director of emergency management for the Town of Westerly and is simultaneously managing the facilitation of COVID-19 re-opening plans for all institutions of higher education in the State of Rhode Island.


Kimberly Bright
Chief of Staff/Interim Executive Director, Rhode Island Nursing Education Center

Kimberly Bright serves as the chief of staff to the commissioner and the interim executive director of the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center. In her capacity as chief of staff, Kimberly has managed a variety of operations for the commissioner, including communications and outreach, legislative affairs, IT, and board relations. Additionally, throughout her tenure in this role, Kimberly has overseen the academic affairs and finance units in an acting capacity. At the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center, Kimberly oversees all operations of the facility, including all fiscal, administrative, communications, stakeholder management, and human resources functions.

Prior to joining OPC, Kimberly served as chief of staff to the commissioner and policy director at the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She had previously served as director of field operations for Marriage Equality Rhode Island. Kimberly has also served on the staff of several members of Congress and is a veteran of several electoral campaigns.

Kimberly is the proud product of Providence Public Schools and holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Rhode Island and an M.P.A. from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. 


Beth Bailey
Director of Communications

Beth Bailey is the director of communications for the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner and Westerly Education Center. She oversees all communications activities, including marketing, public relations, advertising, social media and internal communications. She has a long record of counseling government agencies, private entities and non-profits on their communications strategies as well as implementing them.

Beth earned a B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communication studies from the University of Rhode Island. She has served as president of both the PR Club of Boston and the Public Relations Society of America's Southeastern New England Chapter. 


Catherine McConnell
Director of Strategic Initiatives

Catherine McConnell is the director of strategic initiatives for the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner. Most recently, she served the State of Rhode Island as an education and workforce development policy advisor to former Governor Gina Raimondo. Catherine started in the Governor’s office as the Leading for Educational Equity (ELL) education policy fellow, a nonprofit leadership development organization working to eradicate the injustice of educational inequity. She was a classroom teacher for seven years, starting her career as a Teach for America Corps member in Washington, D.C. teaching special education, and then teaching 4th and 5th grade in Dorchester, Massachusetts. 

Catherine earned a B.A. in studio art, environmental studies, and peace, conflict and existence studies from Brandeis University; an M.Ed. from George Mason University in special education and teaching,; and an Ed.M from Harvard University Graduate School of Education in education policy and management.


Anne Marie Coleman, J.D.
Director of Labor Relations

Anne Marie Coleman is the director of labor relations for the Council on Postsecondary Education and assistant vice president for human resources at University of Rhode Island. In her capacity as director of labor relations, she is responsible for the negotiation and administration of 15 collective bargaining agreements across the postsecondary education system with full and part-time faculty, professional staff, graduate assistants and driver’s education instructors. Anne Marie also works with the three schools and OPC on system-wide human resources issues as well as coordinating the work of the personnel review committee.

Anne Marie earned a B.A. in political science from Providence College, an M.S. in labor relations from University of Rhode Island, and a law degree from the University of Massachusetts (Dartmouth).


Ron Cavallaro, J.D.
General Counsel

Ron Cavallaro has been serving as general counsel to the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education (and its predecessors, the R.I. Board of Governors for Higher Education and the R.I. Board of Education) since December 2006 and also as general counsel to the Community College of Rhode Island since December 2013. Prior to that time, he was legal counsel for the Department of Labor and Training (formerly the Department of Employment Security), and served there in a part-time and full-time capacity for just over 20y years. While serving at DLT in a part-time capacity, he also maintained a private law practice in Warwick, RI.

From 1995 to 2009, Ron was also a member of the adjunct faculty at the Southern New England School of Law, now known as the University of Massachusetts School of Law-Dartmouth, where he taught courses on business organizations, real estate transactions, and labor law. In May 2019, he was named acting commissioner of the Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner.

Ron graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Boston College, and then went on to earn his J.D. and LL.M. in banking law from Boston University School of Law.