Cranston, R.I. (May 16, 2023) - The National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) elected 15 officers last night at its Annual Meeting, making official the recent transition in leadership at Rhode Island’s largest labor union. Its top positions (President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary) are all filled by women with current experience both inside and outside of the classroom.

Val Lawson, elected to her first full term as NEARI President, drew on her 33 years of classroom experience in East Providence Public Schools in her speech to the delegates of NEARI’s 74 local unions following her election.

“I am a true believer. I believe in public education. I believe in the power of advocacy. I believe in the good in government. These institutions are the foundation of our society and together their success positively impacts our quality of life,” she told the assembled delegates. Lawson thanked her predecessor in the role, Larry Purtill, and promised delegates that the union would continue to improve efforts to engage and support its membership, noting that the organization’s influence “rests in your engagement and activism.”

“Whether you’re a classroom teacher, an Educational Support Professional, a higher education member, a state or a municipal worker: our work begins today to provide the very best outcomes for the students and the Rhode Islanders we serve every day.”

The officers of NEARI for the 2023-2024 year are:

  • President: Valarie Lawson
  • Vice President: Amy Mullen, NEA Tiverton
  • Secretary: Sue Warburton, NEA North Kingstown
  • Assistant Secretary: Jamie Grissom, Scituate Paraprofessionals
  • Treasurer: Kristin Chase, East Providence Secretaries
  • Assistant Treasurer: Brian Nelson, NEA South Kingstown
  • NEA Director (not elected this term): Vin Levcowich, NEA Chariho

Area Vice Presidents:

  • Nick Shattuck, East Providence Education Association
  • Lisa Wood, NEA Middletown
  • Bridget Gonsalves, NEA South Kingstown
  • Scott Conley, Davies Career and Tech
  • Angela Boisclair, NEA North Kingstown
  • Mary Parrillo, CCRI PSA
  • Robert Antonson, CCRI ESPA
  • Sue Allienello, East Providence Secretaries
  • Raymond Pouliot, Retired

With 12,000 members around Rhode Island, NEARI is the state’s largest union. Its membership includes public school teachers; clerical and custodial staff at K-12 public schools (often referred to within the union as “education support professionals” or ESPs); full and part-time faculty at CCRI, Roger Williams University, and RISD; professional and support staff at Rhode Island’s public colleges and universities along with Roger Williams and RISD; and local municipal employees and workers at the RI Department of Health. Additionally, many retired workers choose to maintain membership with the union. Around one in every 100 Rhode Islanders is a NEARI member.

NEARI’s Annual Meeting is the last of three meetings of the Delegate Assembly held during the 2022-2023 year. The Delegate Assembly are the representatives from NEARI’s 74 locals who come together to elect union officers and approve the budget and make other vital decisions about the work of the union. Each local is entitled to representation in the Assembly, proportionate to their membership. This year’s Annual Meeting was held at the Cranston Country Club.