Joan Temkin Slafsky, a native of Providence and long-time Rhode Island booster, is a founding board member of WaterFire Providence where she has been called its ”fairy godmother.” Upon seeing Barnaby Evans’ Second Fire in 1996, she spearheaded a grassroots effort to raise money for the ongoing installation of WaterFire, which is now embraced by thousands and has been recognized as an economic generator and signature piece for Providence. She received the Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts from Mayor Vincent A. Cianci who cited her ”for designing and implementing a comprehensive program for WaterFire that continues to attract national and international media attention” and “playing a starring role in the international resurgence of downtown Providence.”
A longtime communications consultant with over 40 years in communications management and constituency development for the arts and education, she was director of Communications at Rhode Island School of Design for many years and has served on the boards of the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, the Providence Preservation Society where she led the Advisory Committee on Tourism and helped produce the AIA Guide to Providence Architecture, and she was appointed to the R.I. State House Restoration Society Commission by three governors. She was communications director for Transforming Providence: A Civic Discussion on Design sponsored by the RI Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
WaterFire remains near and dear to her heart. “Nothing is more gratifying,” she says, “than to see how differently people feel about living in Providence today compared to how they did 20 years ago and to meet people on my travels, whose faces light up when I say I am from Providence as they say they are planning to come to Rhode Island because they have heard about WaterFire!”