Senior Staff

  • Shannon Gilkey, Ed.D., Commissioner
  • Tammy Vargas Warner, Ph.D., Assistant Commissioner of Postsecondary Academic and Student Affairs
  • Amy Grzybowski, Assistant Commissioner of Workforce; Executive Director, RI Higher Education & Industry Centers
  • Beth Bailey, Director of Communications
  • Zachary J. Saul, Chief Financial Officer
  • 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.


Amy Grzybowski
Assistant Commissioner of Workforce; Executive Director, R.I. Higher Education & Industry Centers 

Amy Grzybowski is the assistant commissioner of workforce and the executive director of OPC's R.I. Higher Education & Industry Centers. As assistant commissioner of workforce, Grzybowski is responsible for developing and overseeing Rhode Island’s system-wide postsecondary workforce strategy and policies and advancing state-level work on aligning Rhode Island’s higher education system with the current and future workforce needs. As executive director of R.I. Higher Education & Industry Centers, she is responsible for the operation and oversight of Westerly Education Center and Woonsocket Education Center, public-private postsecondary facilities. 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. 

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. 


Beth Bailey
Director of Communications

Beth Bailey is the director of communications for the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner and its workforce centers. She oversees all communications activities, including marketing, public relations, advertising, social media, and internal communications. She has a long record of success 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. 


Zachary J. Saul
Chief Financial Officer

Zachary Saul is chief financial officer for the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner and its workforce centers. His responsibilities include budgeting, expenditure control, strategic financial planning, and program evaluation as well as overseeing Rhode Island’s system-wide postsecondary financial strategy; public investment into postsecondary education; state policies and procedures for the implementation of the state’s higher education funding plan; and coordination of the evaluation of the public investment into postsecondary education. Previously, he served as CFO for the Town of South Kingstown, R.I. and CFO of the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island, under the R.I. Office of the General Treasurer. Prior to his work in state and municipal government he held senior accounting and operations positions with private companies in various industries.

Zack graduated with a bachelor of accountancy degree from the George Washington University, earned his M.B.A. from Salve Regina University, and has a certificate in executive leadership from Cornell University. 

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 20 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.