2012 Award Winners
theme ~ peace, justice, freedom and dignity
Two hundred and eighty people gathered to support and celebrate 11 women at Kirkbrae Country Club in Lincoln on September 27 as part of the YWCA Rhode Island 8th Annual Women of Achievement Awards Luncheon. YWCA Rhode Island appreciates the underwriters and attendees celebrating the following Women of Achievement: Toby Ayers, Elizabeth “Liz” Chace, Carrie Bridges Feliz, Hilary Jones, Patricia Martinez, Carol O’Donnell, Adeola Oredola, Valerie A. Perry, Carolyn Rafaelian, Roberta Richman and Barbara Sokoloff.
From left: Deborah L. Perry, CEO of YWCA Rhode Island; Roberta Richman; Carol O’Donnell; Adeola Oredola; Barbara Sokoloff; Carolyn Rafaelian; Elizabeth “Liz” Chace; Carrie Bridges Feliz; Valerie A. Perry; Hilary Jones; Patricia Martinez; Toby Ayers; and Meghan Grady, COO of YWCA Rhode Island.
Photo by Agapao Productions.
Women of Achievement Awards are recognized nationally, and bring attention to the accomplishments of women in industry, culture and public service in local communities. Selection criteria focuses on exceptional skills, leadership and mentoring; breaking new ground or old barriers; and being agents of positive change and inspiration. The awards are based on achievements promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity. YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting these qualities.
Toby Ayers, PhD
, directs Rhode Island for Community & Justice, a nonprofit fighting bias and racism by promoting understanding and respect. Rhode Island for Community & Justice celebrates its 60th Diamond Anniversary in November, commemorating its achievements in empowering youth as leaders, promoting just policy and law, and facilitating dialogue on challenging issues in race and civil rights. Previously, Ayers directed the RI Commission on Women; founded and directed the domestic violence Community Advocacy Program in Boston, Massachusetts; directed research and community service for the Center for Community Health, Education and Research in Boston, Massachusetts; and worked for the Guam School District, Marianas Islands.
Elizabeth “Liz” Chace
has successfully led two careers – one in human services and the other in real estate as the co-founder of Residential Properties, Ltd. Her experiences in one sector impacted her philanthropic and professional pursuits. Through intense commitment to community, Chace has long advocated for women and children. She received an honorary degree from Roger Williams University and has served on the Brown University Corporation on behalf of student athletes, alumni, and various committees. She also devotes incredible time and talent to several non-profit and community organizations. Chace has received many commendations for both her career and philanthropic accomplishments.
Carrie Bridges Feliz, MPH
, is the team lead for Health Disparities & Access to Care at the Rhode Island Department of Health. At the Department of Health, Feliz engages in policy and community-based initiatives intended to improve population health, reduce health disparities and help all people to achieve their optimal state of health. Outside of work, she serves on advisories and boards addressing two passions – health and education policy. A graduate of Duke University and Boston University School of Public Health, Feliz came to Rhode Island in 2004 while serving as a fellow with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
is the founder and director of Girls Rock! Rhode Island, a non-profit that helps girls and women empower themselves through music. Jones has supported Girls Rock! Rhode Island in serving hundreds of girls and women across the state in the four years since its inception. She has also worked to end violence and increase healthy relationships and behavior as Research and Education Specialist at Day One, as violence prevention coordinator at the Rhode Island Department of Health, and as project coordinator at Healthy Kids Rhode Island. In 2008, Hilary received her doctorate in Behavioral Science Psychology and she is a part-time faculty member in URI’s Psychology and Women’s Studies departments.
is the executive director for the Center of Family Support and Student Services at Central Falls High School. Martinez was the first Latina confirmed by the Rhode Island Senate for a Cabinet level position when she became director of the Department of Children, Youth and Families in 2005. Throughout her career, Martinez has become a practitioner and advocate for social justice through community organizing, promoting positive youth development, education, family engagement, and building partnerships with community and faith-based organizations and educational systems, to ensure the delivery of services to low-income families. Martinez received a bachelor’s degree in social work from Rhode Island College, and a master’s degree in management and human services from Springfield College. Martinez was also awarded an honorary degree of doctor in humanities from Rhode Island College.
is the owner/president of CRM Modular Homes and Emerald Re-Construction. She is the national director of NAWIC for Region 14 and president of NAWIC No. 1 of Rhode Island, Chapter 52. O’Donnell is a member of the Rhode Island Builders Association, National Associational of Builders, and Professional Women Builders. She is a committee member of the Rhode Island Builder Association and on the board of directors of the Bonnet Shores Beach Club. A supporter of Fraternal Order of Police, Rhode Island State Trooper Parade, Matty’s Place Playground, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State, O’Donnell is currently partnering with donors and volunteers to rehabilitate YWCA’s Carriage House. The vision for this Rosie’s Girls Club House project is to create a space for girls to be able to learn a skilled trade while also building self-confidence. She has also volunteered at Womens & Infants.
is the executive director of Youth In Action, a youth led non-profit in Providence. It provides opportunities for young people of color to develop critical leadership skills and create positive social change throughout their communities. Oredola attended Providence Public Schools, then Brown University, and now lives in the Washington Park area of the city. At the age of 22, she was the youngest person ever to serve on the Providence School Board. Oredola is now 31 and serves as a board member of The Providence Plan. She was awarded a 2011 Rhode Island Foundation fellowship, which allowed her to travel to her father’s home country of Nigeria and bring Youth In Action’s model to the international stage.
’s 32 year career began at the East Providence School Department, then moved on to City Hall. There she served as administrative assistant to the city manager for four years, before being appointed city clerk, where she remained for the next 14 years until her retirement in 2004. Soon after, she was elected to the East Providence City Council, where she served three terms, from 2004-2010. Today she is the 2014-15 district governor nominee for Rotary District 7950, which includes 67 Rotary clubs throughout Rhode Island, Southeastern Massachusetts, the Cape, and the Islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
Designer Carolyn Rafaelian
, Alex and Ani’s owner and creative director, hails from a family of jewelers. She launched Alex and Ani in 2004, naming the company after her first two daughters and shortly after opened her first retail store in Newport. The company has since bloomed and now proudly offers numerous retail locations throughout the United States with international partners spanning the globe. The Alex and Ani line is anchored by a patented signature expandable wire bangle in which she adorns with meaningful charms that represent each wearer’s life purpose and individual spirit. All of her products and designs are eco-friendly and she is dedicated to maintaining an eco-conscious environment while utilizing green habits and producing products made in America. Through her philanthropic efforts of Alex and Ani’s Charity by Design division, Rafaelian focuses on working with organizations to raise awareness and inspire action.
has held numerous positions at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections during the course of her almost 33 years of employment. In her last position held from 2001 until July 1, 2012, she served as assistant director of rehabilitative services overseeing community corrections including probation, parole, and home confinement, and all prison based programming and treatment including education and vocational training, health services, mental health and substance abuse treatment and many specialized counseling programs. During the ten years of her tenure as warden, she introduced many innovative gender responsive programs for female offenders. Her primary focus throughout her career has been on preparing incarcerated men and women for their reentry into the community upon release and the development of activities designed to bridge the gap between institutional services and community corrections.
is president of Barbara Sokoloff Associates, Inc, a mission based affordable housing and community development consulting firm. She has created over 1500 affordable housing units as well as many community-based development and planning projects. These include the Dreyfus Hotel (a mixed use artists housing) and the Downtown East Greenwich Revitalization Plan among others. Sokoloff previously was city planner in Warwick. She is on the board of The Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence, Classical High School Alumni Association, and is vice chair of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island. She has been on the boards of RI Housing, RI Health Education Facilities Corp and was president of both the Hillel Board at The University of Rhode Island and Jewish Seniors Agency of Rhode Island.
WOMEN OF ACHIEVEMENT 2013
For information about the 9th Annual Women of Achievement Awards
event, contact YWCA Rhode Island at 401-769-7450.