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Board and Committee Member Biographies


Nancy Armstrong Nancy Armstrong has worked tirelessly to ensure the financial stability of GSSNE. 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!
lori basilico

Lori A. Basilico, Esq. is a partner attorney with the law firm of Locke Lord LLP (formerly Edwards & Angell). She is the head of the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation group. She received an LL.M in Taxation from Boston University School of Law, a JD from the University of Denver College of Law and a BA in government from Smith College. She is active with the Moses Brown School Parents Association and was a board member of the Rhode Island Lung Association. Lori lives in Providence with her husband, Paul Adler and their two children, Griffin and Cecily.

vicki benson

Vicki Benson, Finance Committee, is an investment officer at Amica Mutual Insurance Company where she has worked since 2004. She graduated summa cum laude from Sonoma State University with a B.S. in business and a minor in economics. Vicki is a CFA charterholder, has earned the Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM), and is on the board of the CFA Society Providence.

GSRI Bio Image Placeholder Judith Clare is the Director of the Amica Center for Career Education at Bryant University and has been a member of the board since 2001.  She was a member of the Cookies with Class committee for several years, a member of the nominating committee and is currently serving on the board development committee and visionary committee.  A graduate of Leadership Rhode Island, she is also President Elect of the Smithfield Rotary Club and on the Board of Directors of Executive Women’s Golf Association.  Judy also is a weekly volunteer at the Rhode Island Free Clinic.  She is a member of the Commission on Disabilities and on the Advisory Board of the Rhode Island Business Leaders Network.  She has a Masters in Education in Counseling as well as a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from Rhode Island College.
aida crosson Aida P. Crosson is a former board member and currently is serving on our board development committee.  She is currently employed as the Director of Community Affairs for US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  Prior to her current position, she served as Secretary of State/Director of Personnel for the State of Rhode Island.  She also 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 and Wales and is now working on a Master’s degree in Public Administration.  She served on the board of the Providence Latin American Film Festival for four years 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 and was first runner-up in the nationals.
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.
katie davis board member

Katie Davis is an Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press award-winning investigative reporter at NBC 10.  She joined the team in 2010 and loves living and working in New England.  Prior to moving east, Katie worked as an investigative and consumer reporter at KGPE in Fresno, CA.  She started her reporting career at KNDO in Yakima, Wash.  With some hard work and a scholarship from CBS News, Katie earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University; she is also a proud graduate of Cornell University.  Katie is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors; she has received an Emmy nomination for her diligent and dedicated work.  When she's not chasing a story, you'll find Katie chasing her son and daughter around the house or running local road races.

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 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 with the mission of offering small businesses access to high-quality, effective marketing and public relations services, and today the agency represents over 30 small businesses, medical practices, and trade associations in New England.  Active in the community, John is a principal organizer of Gateway Healthcare’s Light of Hope Campaign, in which he has been responsible for providing thousands of families and children with holiday gifts.  John also serves on 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 Assistant Controller at IPG Photonics Corporation. IPG Photonics manufactures high-performance fiber lasers and amplifiers for use in a wide range of markets, such as materials processing, advanced technologies, telecommunications and medical applications. Prior to joining IPG Photonics in 2015, she held the position of 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 a CPA licensed in Massachusetts.
GSRI Bio Image Placeholder Jennifer Leigh is the Manager for CSR & Philanthropy at CVS Health, managing community giving for the company’s home state of Rhode Island, as well as colleague engagement and volunteer programs for the company’s 200,000 colleagues across the country.  Prior to CVS Health, 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, and has been a member of the board since 2013.
Joanne Lynch, board member

Joanne Lynch is currently the Assistant Dean of Admission 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 B.S. in English and M.Ed. in College Student Personnel from Northeastern University, and the M.A. in Counseling from Northern Arizona University.  She also is a National Certified Counselor.  Ms. Lynch was a Brownie, Junior, and Cadette in Warren, MA.

Mike Lynch Michael D. Lynch, Esq. is on his second stint as a board member and was also a third vice president from 2001 to 2006.  Mike recently chaired the Executive Search Committee that resulted in the hiring of our CEO.  Mike is Vice-President, Legal at The Beacon Mutual Insurance Company, where he has been employed for fifteen 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, professional, community and religious activities.  Mike's daughter Rosalie is a recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award and his son Connor is an Eagle Scout.
james patti board member

James Patti is the Executive Assistant to the President & Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Bryant University. He has previously served in senior positions with Brown University andGeorgetown University. Prior to these roles in higher education, he worked in corporate finance and consulting. He holds an MBA from Georgetown University, a Bachelor's Degree from Seton Hall University and a Certificate in Economics and Asian Studies from Sophia University in Japan. His wife Claire is a clinical psychologist and writer who serves as a troop leader for their four daughters in East Greenwich, RI.

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 Credentialing Specialist at Stanley Street Treatment and Resources, Inc. in Fall River, MA.  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.  After ten years, Linda has retired from her position as Executive Director of the Fall River Women's Union to assume her dream job of caring for her granddaughter. She is a member of 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. Butler Hospital trustee, as well as a trustee at Hospital Association of RI. He is a past member of the Rotary Club of Providence.
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 from Towers Watson where she was a management consultant about executive compensation. Her clients included some of the largest nonprofit organizations in the country, including Girl Scouts of the USA, Kaiser Health Plan, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  She earned her law degree from Seton Hall Law School and a BS in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School. She is a licensed (inactive) attorney and certified public accountant. She is currently serving her first term as a member-at-large of our board. A girl scout for six years, Heidi has two adult daughters and lives with her husband, Paul Alexander, in Potowomut, East Greenwich.