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Board and Committee Member Biographies


Nancy Armstrong Nancy Armstrong has worked tirelessly to ensure the financial stability of GSRI. She has been a member of the board of directors, the finance committee, the investment committee (chair), the fund development committee, and the leadership/major gifts sub-committee (chair). For her efforts, Nancy received both the Thanks Badge and the Thanks Badge II, the highest awards an adult can receive in Girl Scouting. Nancy also served as the Cookie Sale chair for many years and recently served on the council service fee task force. Nancy remains a member of the finance and investment committees. Somebody wrote on Nancy's Girl Scout record: "I don't know her but she sounds super". Indeed she is!
GSRI Bio Image Placeholder Judith Clare is the Director of the Amica Center for Career Education at Bryant University. She is a graduate of Leadership Rhode Island. She is a member of the leadership team of the Smithfield Rotary Club, on the board of directors of the Executive Women's Golf Association and is a fundraising committee member for the Alzheimer’s Association. She has a Masters in Education in Counseling as well as a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from Rhode Island College. She has been an advisory board member of the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities and the Rhode Island Business Leaders Network.
aida crosson Aida P. Crosson is the Deputy Secretary of State/Director of Personnel for the State of Rhode Island. She previously worked in the Attorney General's Office as Director of Personnel and Director of the Victim Services Units. She has a BA in Business Administration from Johnson & Wales and is now working on a Master's degree in Public Administration. She was a board member of the Providence Latin American Film Festival and has been an event coordinator for Quisqueya in Action, the Dominican American National roundtable and others. She is the founder of Runway for a Cure of the Lupus Foundation of New England. She was crowned Miss Rhode Island Latina in 1989.
betty cugini

Elizabeth C. Cugini
We are fortunate indeed that Betty Cugini has been involved in Girl Scouting in Rhode Island for 47 years! Betty started her amazing Girl Scout “career” as an assistant leader, then leader of a Brownie troop, was a troop organizer, a trainer, and a “neighborhood chairman”. Betty has been on the board of directors since 1978 and was council president from 1986 to 1992. During her long service to our council, Betty has chaired all standing committees, was a national volunteer from 1984-1986 and was the council’s delegate at three national conventions! Betty even chaired our statewide event to mark Girl Scouting’s 85th anniversary. She is currently the chair of our museum committee, serves on our finance committee, and is an honorary board member. Betty takes her obligations seriously and has worn out a path from Westerly to Providence in order to honor her many commitments to the girls in our council.

Not surprisingly, Betty’s dedication has inspired many honors. Betty’s received the YMCA Service to Youth Award and several of Girl Scouting’s highest awards: the Thanks Badge, the Thanks Badge II and the Mira Hoffman Award. Betty was the council’s “Partner in Philanthropy” in 1998.

Betty graduated URI with a BS degree in early childhood education.  Many other organizations, like St. Clare’s, the Boy Scouts Narragansett Council, and the Westerly Adult Day Center, have benefited from Betty’s enthusiasm and wisdom. Betty is married to Joseph N. Cugini and is the mother of two children, Betty-Jo and David, and the grandmother of three, Katharine, Christopher and Finley. 

GSRI Bio Image Placeholder Laura A. Da Fonseca, CPA, CFE, CFF, CDFA, MST. Laura is a Principal at Piccerelli, Gilstein & Company LLP. She was a Brownie and Cadette in Taunton, MA and is now a troop committee member in her sons’ Boy Scout troop; two of her sons has achieved the rank of Eagle and another son has one more requirement to complete toward his Eagle. She received her BS from the University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth and a Masters in Taxation from Bryant University. She is the treasurer of the UMass Dartmouth Alumni Association, a board member for the RI Chaper of Certified Faud Examiners, and on the Editorial Advisory Board for the Tax Advisor. She is also a part-time professor for the Charlton College of Business at the University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth. As a girl, Laura achieved her First Class award and the Marion Medal from the Girl Scouts.
Nina Dash Nina Dash is principal in the NKD Group, a financial engineering consulting firm. She is also an adjunct professor in computer science and statistics at URI. She has a PhD in applied mathematics and an MBA from URI. Nina's research and work interest focus on the application of quantitative and statistical models in the field of finance and education. Her other affiliations include faculty advisor on PhD thesis (international), judging the Gandhi Awards, member of the department computer advisory committee, and the financial engineering club. Nina was a Girl Guide in India for five years and has held various volunteer positions with GSRI - troop leader, service unit manager, Be-A-Reader chair and Project Undercover chair. She has also received the Outstanding Leader Award. Nina's daughter, Miriam, is a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient.
GSRI Bio Image Placeholder Lisa M. DeCubellis is vice president at Amica Mutual Insurance Company. Lisa has just completed her first term as second vice chair at GSRI. She is currently chair of the strategic planning committee. She has served as a member of the board development committee and has also been a member of the strategic learning team. Lisa earned a dual degree in Marketing and Retailing from Syracuse University. She has received certificates in the following: Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Associate in Claims (AIC), and Certified Net Promoter Associate.
GSRI Bio Image Placeholder William C. DeWitt is a partner at HCC Marketing, a marketing communications firm located in Barrington. Prior to joining HCC, Bill ran his own marketing consulting practice and was senior marketing executive at Bank Rhode Island and Citizens Bank. Bill has spent over 20 years in the financial services and advertising industries in New England. He received his BA from Dartmouth College and his MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. His youngest daughter is currently a Junior and his wife, Mary, was a trained Brownie leader.
GSRI Bio Image Placeholder Elsie Foy was a girl member for six years and has been an adult member of Girl Scouting for over 35 years. She has been a leader, trainer and is a member of the adult recognition committee. She has received the Outstanding Leader Award and was the recipient of GSRI’s highest recognition, the Mira Hoffman Award. She is the past board president of the St. Mary’s Food Pantry and a former volunteer teacher for the RI Community Food Bank. She is the owner of Aunt Carrie’s Seafood Restaurant in Narragansett and was the recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s “American Classics” Award in 2007.
cleora head shot Cleora Francis-O’Connor is a computer network management specialist at the Providence School Department. She is a graduate of Leadership Rhode Island/Phi class and a former co-chair of the Million Mom March/RI as well as a former board member of City Arts. Her other affiliations include Chaplin and board member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women RI Chapter and past vice president and present board member of the Institute for the Study & Practice of Non-Violence. In addition, she is also a certified yoga instructor and teaches yoga in her spare time.
john houle John Houle founded JH Communications in 2002. Over the past 10 years, JH Communications has grown to be the trusted source for effectual small business marketing, managing the marketing programs for numerous insurance agencies, companies, and trade associations. John has also helped numerous candidates seek elected office, including Rhode Island’s current Secretary of State. As one of the organizers of Gateway Healthcare’s Light of Hope Campaign, John has been responsible for providing thousands of families and children with holiday gifts for the past decade. John serves on the Community College of Rhode Island’s Business Department Advisory Board and Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors, and is a past board member of Mt. St. Rita Health Center. A graduate of Boston College (BA, 1994), John resides in Cranston, RI,with his wife, Susan, and their children, Jenna and Christopher.
GSRI Bio Image Placeholder Christine Isidoro is the corporate controller at Costa, Inc. (formerly AT Cross Company). Costa, Inc. is a designer, manufacturer and seller of performance sunglasses. Previously, she held the position of senior manager of internal audit at AT Cross Company and, prior to that, the audit manager of KPMG, LLP. She received her BS from Providence College and her MBA from Bryant University. Christine is also a CPA licensed in Massachusetts.
GSRI Bio Image Placeholder Jennifer Leigh is the Manager for Corporate Communications and Community Relations at CVS Caremark, helping to communicate the company’s philanthropic efforts both internally and externally. Jennifer also manages community giving for the company’s home state of Rhode Island, as well as colleague engagement and the CVS Caremark Employee Relief Fund. Prior to CVS Caremark, Jennifer was Communications Director for The Economic Progress Institute, as well as a communications consultant dedicated to helping nonprofits throughout the region meet their mission with strategic,integrated communications. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Muhlenberg College.
Joanne Lynch, board member

Joanne Lynch is currently the Assistant Dean of Admissions at the University of Rhode Island. She has been a higher education professional for more than 25 years, and past positions include Associate Director of Admissions at Northern Arizona University and Director of Student Services at Northeastern University School of Law. She earned a BA in English and MEd in College Student Personnel from Northeastern University, and an MA in Counseling from Northern Arizona University. She is also a National Certified Counselor. Joanne was a Brownie, Junior and Cadette Girl Scout in Warren, MA.

Mike Lynch Michael D. Lynch, Esq. has returned to the board after a brief respite, having served as a board member and third vice-president from 2001 to 2006. Mike also chaired the Executive Search Committee that resulted in the hiring of our new CEO. Mike is Vice-President, Legal at The Beacon Mutual Insurance Company, where he's been employed for twelve years. Before then, Mike was a Partner in the Providence law firm of Higgins Cavanagh & Cooney. Mike just finished a term as President of the Rhode Island Legal Educational Partnership and has been very active in a number of youth sports and religious activities. Mike's daughter Rosalie is a recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award.
maccarone photo Ann Marie Maccarone, Esq. is an associate attorney with the law firm of Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP in Providence, Rhode Island. She is a member of the Creditors' Rights Group and has expertise in the area of title law. She received a BS, cum laude, and an MBA from Providence College and a JD from Suffolk University Law School. She is currently a board member of the Classical High School (Providence, RI) Alumni Association and a committee member of the Children's Friend and Service committee at Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP. Ann Marie is also a volunteer at her local church and works with teen girls.
GSRI Bio Image Placeholder Sally A. Russell is president of Howard Russell Insurance, partner in Rhode Island Insurance Group. She and her sister, Heidi Russell Duggan, own and operate their business in East Greenwich. Sally graduated with a BA from Denison University. She was a girl member, has served as a Girl Scout adult volunteer and was previously a member of the board of directors. She currently serves on the board development committee. She is active in the Rotary Club of East Greenwich. She and her husband, John Prendergast, reside in East Greenwich. They have a daughter and a son who were both involved in scouting.
GSRI Bio Image Placeholder Linda Schofield is the executive director of the Fall River Women’s Union and is also employed at Stanley Street Treatment and Resources, Inc. in Fall River. She is a graduate of Wheelock College with a BS in elementary education. She was a girl member for several years, with her mother as her Girl Scout leader. Her daughter also enjoyed being a member of a Girl Scout troop. She is a past president of the Fall River Women’s Union and has been a member for 35 years. She is a member of the Fortnightly Club and the Acoaxet Club.
GSRI Bio Image Placeholder Kekin Shah is the president of Shanix, Inc., a firm specializing in integrated security management systems.  He is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a major in electronics. His volunteer activities include president of Advent House, Inc. and treasurer of Butler Hospital. He is a past member of the Providence Rotary Club.
GSRI Bio Image Placeholder George W. Shuster worked at the Cranston Print Works Company holding progressively more responsible positions until he was elected president and CEO in 1991. In 2000, he became the chairman. When he was in college, George worked as a boating instructor at Camp Hoffman for two summers. He was formerly a partner at Edwards and Angell. He received a BA from Yale College, an MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a JD from Yale Law School. He is Chairman of Care New England, the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, the National Textile Association and the Textile Hall of Fame. He is also Vice President of the Narragansett Council of Boy Scouts. He is past secretary of the Yale Crew Association, and was previously involved with the RI Audubon Society and the Providence Public Library. He has been recognized nationally for his quilts made using clothing labels.
board member Heidi Toppel Heidi J. Toppel retired after 24 years of providing consulting advice about executive compensation and benefits for Towers Watson and its predecessors. She ultimately specialized in consulting to the boards of some of the largest and most prestigious not-for-profit organizations in the country, including Girl Scouts of the USA, Kaiser Heath Plan and Hospitals, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Heidi earned her law degree from Seton Hall Law School and a BS in economics from the Univeristy of Pennsylvania Wharton School. She is a licensed (inactive) attorney and certified public accountant. A Girl Scout for six years, Heidi has two adult daughters and lives with her husband, Paul Alexander, and a dozen international high school students in the Potowomut section of East Greenwich.
bethany mascena tracy Bethany Mascena Tracy is co-founder and CEO of womenRYSE, a women's health and fitness company. As a professional marketer and entrepreneur, Bethany has helped many clients start and grow their businesses. She uses her skill as a marketing and branding professional to promote the roles of girls and women and to promote the Girl Scout Movement. In addition to being a member of the GSRI volunteer advisory board, Bethany has been a troop leader for five years and was a girl member for ten years. As a scout, she earned her Silver Award, Marian Medal, and rank of Admiral at Camp Hoffman sailing camp. She received her BA from American University in Washington, DC. She lives in Warwick with her husband and two daughters who are both Girl Scouts.
GSRI Bio Image Placeholder Jeff Wellen is the Vice President, CFO of Dryvit Systems, Inc., a global exterior insulation and finish systems manufacturer headquartered in West Warwick, RI. Prior to joining Dryvit Systems, Jeff was a senior manager with KPMG responsible for audit services for public and private companies. He has also served as Divisional VP Finance and Controller at AT Cross. Jeff received his BS in Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island. Jeff is a CPA licensed in Rhode Island. Jeff serves on both the board development committee and the investment committee for GSRI. Jeff and his wife Christina have three children: Mackenzie, Hannah and Liam. Mackenzie is a Girl Scout.