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Celebrating the Women Who Ignite Providence

Photograph by Luis Andrade.

Here at WaterFire Providence, we believe that representation and diversity are two of the pillars that bind a community together and through each WaterFire lighting we celebrate the renewal of those bonds.  Today is International Woman’s day so we wanted to take a moment to recognize a few of the many strong female contributors who help keep the fires burning. From our board of directors to our staff and especially among our volunteer corps women are playing a pivotal role and together we’re building a better city in which all people can come together in a safe, encouraging, and artistic space.

Leslie A. Gardner and Laura Duclos. Photo via Instagram.

Leslie A. Gardner and Laura Duclos. Photo via Instagram.

For the past two years, we have had the pleasure to have Leslie A. Gardner serving as our Board Chair. Under her tenure as chair, we’ve completed renovation of and opening the new WaterFire Arts Center and entered what has been dubbed by our artistic executive director and co-CEO Barnaby Evans the “WaterFire 2.0” era. It was also during this time period that we were engaged with Barbara Sokoloff, of Barbara Sokoloff Associates and Jeanne Cola, executive director of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) RI. These two dynamic women we instrumental in helping us to navigate to complex financial mechanics required to bring the WaterFire Arts Center to completion.

Among our staff, we have two amazing women on our five-person senior leadership team; Bronwyn Dannenfelser leads our development team and Laura Duclos is our creative services manager. Development associates Allison Costa and Anja Josuweit round out the development squad. Laura recently expanded her team with the hiring of Adrienne Allard who is now running our WaterFire Store and is part of the team managing events at the WaterFire Arts Center. Meaghan Corse, another recent addition to our staff, is a management assistant to our managing director and co-CEO Peter Mello. In our volunteer department, we have our manager of volunteer resources Jamie Leiva who recently re-joined us after a stint as the development director of the Heart Walk at the American Heart Association. Our two newest team members Michelle Marchetti and Kristina McKenzie have both just started with us this week! They are joining our events and operations department and will be helping to plan and coordinate all our of WaterFire lightings. Last but certainly not least we have bookkeeper Marguerite Bernier and accountant Mary Gagnon in our accounting department; these two always keep our finances running smoothly.

WaterFire volunteers are some of the most talented and hardworking people on the planet. They fill so many roles from boat captain to merchandise sales-agent to WaterFire ambassador, volunteers are the fuel that WaterFire runs on. Among the group there a many amazing and inspiring women, here are just a few that we have written about in more detail: 2017 Volunteer Rookie of the Year Kou Nyan, Captain Fern Rouleau, Special Ops lead Dani Tores, Star Field lead Melissa Ferrel, and captain Jane Carlson.

Amazing Women of WaterFire, we celebrate you! Thanks for all you do.

Featured image: Brazier with blue reflections, photograph by Luis Andrade.

About the author

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I've worked at WaterFire Providence since 2003. For the first 9 years of my career, I worked in the Production Shop learning all of the details that go into the physical production of the event. In 2012 transitioned to the role of managing WaterFire's social media and web presence. I now head up WaterFire Providence's digital projects including, web, social, databases, and our physical IT infrastructure.

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