Senior Staff

 

  • Kim Bright, Chief of Staff
  • Ron Cavallaro, JDGeneral Counsel 
  • Anne Marie Coleman, JDDirector of Labor Relations
  • Amy Grzybowski, Executive Director, Westerly Education Center
  • Robin McGill, PhD, Director of Strategic Initiatives
  • Nicole Shaffer-Thomas, Director of Communications and Outreach
  • Paula Szulc, Ed.D., Associate Commissioner of Student Success
  • Erin Wilbur, Executive Director, RI Nursing Education Center

Ron Cavallaro, JD

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 twenty years. While serving at DLT in a part-time capacity, he also maintained a private law practice located in Warwick, RI. 

From 1995 to 2009, Mr. Cavallaro 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 Business Organizations, Real Estate Transactions, and Labor Law.

Mr. Cavallaro graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Boston College, and then went on to earn his JD and LLM in Banking Law from Boston University School of Law.


Anne Marie Coleman, JD

Director of Labor Relations

Anne Marie Coleman is the Director of Labor Relations for the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources at the University of Rhode Island. In her capacity as Director of Labor Relations she is responsible for the negotiation and administration of fifteen (15) collective bargaining agreements across the postsecondary education system with full and part-time faculty, professional staff, graduate assistants and driver’s education instructors. Ms. Coleman also works with the three schools and the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner on system-wide human resources issues, and she coordinates the work of the Personnel Review Committee.

Ms. Coleman graduated from Providence College with a B.A. in Political Science, and she has a M.S. in Labor Relations from the University of Rhode Island and a J.D. from the University of Massachusetts (Dartmouth).


Nicole Shaffer-Thomas

Director of Communications and Outreach

Nicole Shaffer-Thomas joined RIOPC as Director of Communications and Outreach in January 2018.

Prior to this role, Ms. Shaffer-Thomas led communications and fund development for two national K-12 education nonprofits. As Director of External Affairs at Chiefs for Change, she led public relations and fundraising for the organization's successful re-boot and re-branding. As Director of Development and Communications at Building Excellent Schools, she managed fundraising and communications in support of significant expansion of the organization's leadership development programs nationwide. Before her work in the nonprofit sector, Ms. Shaffer-Thomas worked on external relations and outreach for the state of Rhode Island’s Race to the Top initiatives, communicating with districts, teachers, political leaders, the business community, and families to support educational improvement in the Ocean State. She began her career in education in Washington, DC, managing communications at the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

Ms. Shaffer-Thomas holds a Master’s degree in International Communication from American University and a Bachelor’s in Journalism from Ohio University.


Paula Szulc, Ed.D.

Associate Commissioner of Student Success

Paula Szulc joined RIOPC as Associate Commissioner for Student Success in April 2018.

Szulc’s career has focused on increasing opportunities through education for learners of all ages. As a teacher, researcher, policymaker, and administrator, her work spans pK-20 settings in the U.S., as well as in Japan, China, India, and Sweden. She comes to the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner after having served as the Director of Assessment and Accreditation at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education for three years, where she successfully supported state, regional, and national accreditation reviews and acted as an advisor to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Szulc earned an Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a Master's degree from the Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University, and a Bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke College. She also holds a Certificate in International Higher Education from Boston College.