Director of Marketing, Sales and Outreach
How long have you worked at Neighborhood, what do you do here and what part of your job do you most enjoy?
I started working at Neighborhood in 2004 and cannot believe I’ve been here 18 years already! (And yes I was about 10 years old when I started.) I first joined Neighborhood as media and advertising manager, then advanced to the position of senior manager of marketing and advertising and then moved on to my current role as director of marketing, sales and outreach. I absolutely love what I do and am 100% driven by the needs of our members. I also have the great honor and privilege of overseeing an incredible 18-person team in the areas of sales and advertising, market research, marketing and member outreach programs and production and social media. What I most enjoy in my role is working alongside the BEST TEAM EVA! (If you haven’t met me yet, I’m the proud owner of a heavy Rhode Island accent.)
What did you do before joining Neighborhood?
After graduating from the University of Rhode Island (Go Rams!) with a bachelor’s degree in communications, I soon discovered my passion for marketing and advertising! In the years leading up to my joining Neighborhood, I worked for several years as an account manager/production manager for a Rhode Island advertising agency before striking out on my own in the Ocean State. I decided to partner with a local designer and, together, we started a small advertising agency called 2/creative. We worked with many local businesses, including (wait for it…) Neighborhood! I was a vendor for the organization for about a year before being hired full time. I’ll never forget what attracted me to Neighborhood – its focus on advocacy, social justice and equality. The organization was very forward thinking, even back then. As a gay woman, this really resonated with me.
Of all the projects you have worked on at Neighborhood, which one stands out as being especially meaningful to you?
Seriously? You want me to pick just one? So many…how do I choose!? Being a lifelong resident of Rhode Island, helping my fellow Rhode Islanders, especially the ones who need a helping hand, are the most memorable and meaningful projects. From the early days of partnering with the State to provide toys to our members, to helping with the Warm Hands Warm Hearts coat drive year after year, to handing out backpacks at the annual Back to School Celebration. Any and all of these charitable initiatives – even to this day – warm my heart.
Tell us a little bit about the years you spent growing up – sharing what helped shaped your future.
Spoiler alert! I come from a big, perhaps loud Italian family (100% Italian) where it was instilled in me at a young age that family is everything. (That and good Italian food made with fresh herbs and vegetables grown on our property. Good, clean country living!) I grew up in a rural part of North Providence in a neighborhood of Italian Catholics, and was the youngest (by far) of four children. My closest in age sibling is my sister who was 12 when I was born, and my brother is 17 years older than me and my other brother is 20 years older than me. What this meant growing up is that I got all kinds of attention from my immediate and extended family members throughout my childhood. I was the baby of the family. In fact, it felt like I had five parents growing up because my siblings were so much older than me. Maybe this is the reason why I have been a “peacock” (for those who have taken the Bird Personality Test) all my life – my family showered me with attention during my childhood! Yup, I was spoiled.
It was this emphasis on family and community that made me feel comfortable coming out to my family in the early nineties. I was in my early 20s at the time and even though my parents were old school Italians and Catholic to boot, they accepted that I was gay. They didn’t necessarily understand it or talk about it, but I always knew I was loved and never felt they treated me any differently once I came out. I was fortunate in this way as I know that many LGBTQ+ individuals are oftentimes not accepted by their families. This is one of the reasons why I’m on the board of Youth Pride, Inc. (YPI) – to help others who were not as fortunate as I when sharing their true selves with their families. To this day, youth are being harassed and bullied simply for being who they are. Things have gotten much better since the early nineties but there is still much work to do.
Getting back to all of the positives of being raised in a close-knit, supportive family – my upbringing made me want my own family. I met my now wife Marianne in 1998 and got married in 2014 by current U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo who – back then – was the Rhode Island Treasurer. Why did Marianne and I wait so long to tie the knot? While we could have gone out of state to get married sooner, it was important to us to get married in the state that each of us were raised in once gay marriage was legalized here. By the way, did I mention that Marianne is 100% Italian!? Along our journey together, we were blessed with our son Cal!
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Why?
Be true to yourself. Or…put more eloquently by Michelle Obama: “Always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody says distract you from your goals.” I lost a lot of years not being who I truly was because being gay wasn’t the norm when I came of age in the eighties. It really wasn’t acceptable. While I’ve certainly made up for lost time since coming out, I want to encourage others to be true to themselves as soon as they can. It’s liberating!
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I love hanging out with my wife Marianne, our son Cal and our menagerie of pets (two dogs: Zane and Plum; two cats: Pudzie and Mittens). Whether we’re chilling at home, exploring beaches, hiking or traveling – I love any and all time I spend with my family! I also love to laugh (loudly!) with family and friends, listen to True Crime podcasts while walking my dogs and take in my favorite music – gotta love the eighties! Yup, Madonna is my all time favorite, probably because she’s always pushed the envelope and put her radical spirit on display through her phenomenal songs and music videos. Oh…plus, she’s Italian.
Share a “Fun Fact” with us. Something about you that others might find surprising or intriguing?
I learned how to juggle during the pandemic. If you don’t believe me, check out this juggling video.
What advice or recommendations would you give to someone interested in the type of career you are in? If you are interested in working for a managed care organization, take time to understand the members who are being served and the challenges they face. Being empathetic is so important to effectively serving these members and improving their quality of life.