Many graduates of Roger Williams University have brought extraordinary credit to their alma mater through both professional and personal achievements. This year, we are honored to recognize and celebrate three alumni who have had a significantly beneficial impact on society and our campus, advancing the common good and inspiring others to address challenges with insight and creativity. The actions of these alumni award recipients* communicate the dynamic excellence of a Roger Williams education and the importance of service as one of our core values.
*Alumni award recipients are selected by the Awards Committee which consists of at least five members of the Alumni Association Board.
The Roger Williams Alumni Association is proud to present the 2014 Alumni Award Winners:
Distinguished Alumnus/a of the Year Award
This award recognizes a graduate for significant long-term success in personal and professional achievements who has made outstanding contributions to his or her profession and has rendered distinguished service to the public welfare, thus honoring Roger Williams University and the Alumni Association.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin '88 L'98
Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Peter Kilmartin has served as the Attorney General of Rhode Island since November of 2010. A native Rhode Islander, Peter grew up in the city of Pawtucket where he attended the same neighborhood public school system in which his father taught. After graduating from Tolman High School, Kilmartin decided that he wanted to protect and serve the community in which he grew up. In 1984, he enrolled in the police academy. For over two decades, Kilmartin served his community as a member of the Pawtucket Police Department, starting as an officer on patrol, working his way up to becoming the officer in charge of prosecutions and earning the rank of Captain.
Attending Roger Williams in the mid-1990’s, Peter enrolled as a night student at the School of Law, while working as a Pawtucket police officer and member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. As a state representative, he created a witness protection program and helped pass laws that: protect children from predators, ban texting while driving, keep alcohol out of cars, put an end to pension abuses, strengthen domestic violence penalties, and force health insurance companies to cover reconstructive surgery for women following breast cancer mastectomies.
According to his former mentor, Professor Bruce Kogan, “I remember that Peter was always of good cheer, engaged and animated in discussing the assigned material whether it covered adverse possession of land or depreciation deductions for individuals running a small business.” Kilmartin’s real world experience and mature perspective enabled him to ask the kind of questions that a teacher always welcomes – such as “Well that may be what the judge said, but how would it work in real life?”
When asked to recall the names of professors that had a profound influence on his educational experience, Peter begins with Professor Bruce Kogan. “He was an exemplary professor and his style of teaching took on a practicality of the law. After graduation, Dean Kogan became a friend and mentor. I hold him in such high regard that I asked him to serve on my transition team upon entering the Office of Attorney General. Another professor whose teachings Kilmartin greatly appreciated was Esther Clark: “She was adored by all. Her grandmotherly style belied her superior intellect, her understanding of the law and how to convey the law to her students, and her willingness to devote individual time to her students. Kilmartin also recalls his experiences with Judge Howard Lipsey, someone he has considered to be a friend ever since attending RWU Law: “His Family Law class was one of the most practical courses I’ve ever had. He not only taught relevant case law, he was exemplary in demonstrating how to apply it.”
Recognizing his devotion to fighting for the protection of everyday Rhode Islanders, Kilmartin has been recognized with awards from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, After-School Alliance Plus, Justice Assistance, Boys & Girls Club, Gateway Health Care, the Northern R.I. Chamber of Commerce, the R.I. National Guard, and the R.I. Saltwater Anglers.
Peter currently serves in several leadership positions with the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), including: liaison to the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP), vice-chair for the Eastern Region, and co-chair for NAAG’s Criminal Law Committee. He also serves on the Law Enforcement and Prosecutorial Relations Working Group and Veterans Affairs Committee. His leadership role with NAAG led to the IAP hosting its North American and Caribbean conference in Providence, where top law enforcement officials discussed strategies to combat human trafficking, intellectual property theft, cybercrime, and weapons and drug trafficking.
“As I fully expected, Peter Kilmartin has brought honor and dedication to protecting the citizens of Rhode Island as its chief law enforcement officer. He is widely admired and respected for his passion and his compassion in enforcing the laws of this state,” says Professor Kogan.
In his free time, Peter and his wife have been actively involved in the community. Together, they founded the Pawtucket Arts Festival, which draws thousands of people from all across Southern New England to Pawtucket every year, serving as an economic and cultural boon to the Rhode Island economy.
Kilmartin received his B.S. in Criminal Justice from RWU in 1988 and his JD from RWU Law in 1998. He credits his successful career to the educational guidance he received at Roger Williams from: Professor Lou Procaccini – his advisor at the time, Professor Thomas (Tucker) Wright, Esq., Professor John Notte III, and Professor Bruce Kogan. Kilmartin continues to be an active member of the Roger Williams Community and currently is a member of the RWU Law’s 20th Anniversary Committee.
Alumni Service Award
This award recognizes a graduate for outstanding service to Roger Williams University. This individual’s voluntary contributions, either directly or through activity in the Alumni Association, shall have been over and beyond the normal call of duty.
The Roger Williams Alumni Association is proud to present the 2014 Alumni Service Award to Ashley Gingerella O'Shea ’07.
Ashley Gingerella O'Shea '07
Barrington, Rhode Island
By her own admission, Ashley loves Rhode Island and it shows in almost everything she devotes herself to – both professionally and outside the workplace. She is passionate about serving the people of Rhode Island and helping underserved communities to prosper. Originally from Westerly, O’Shea graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Communications from Roger Williams University and a Masters in Business Administration, also cum laude, from the University of Rhode Island.
Ashley Gingerella O’Shea ’07 was recently appointed the Director of Communications for the General Treasurer of Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo. In that role, she has worked with her colleagues in government to launch the Treasury’s Smart Money Tour, bringing resources into the community. She helps to raise awareness on ways Treasury supports the Rhode Island community including the Crime Victims Compensation Program, which provides funding to victims of violent crime; and the Empower R.I. Program, which provides financial literacy, including one-on-one financial coaching to the community.
According to her former business professor, Susan Bosco, “Ashley is motivated and energetic. She was very focused on success in school and preparing for her career – both of which have served her well.” As an undergraduate, O’Shea – one of just two RWU students selected – represented both the University and the Mario J. Gabelli School of Business as a member of College Leadership R.I.
Prior to her work with the General Treasurer, O’Shea worked at Citizens Bank, in Providence, where she was an Assistant Vice President, Public Relations Manager. There she collaborated with the public affairs team on programs such as Champions in Action, benefiting local nonprofits and Gear for Grades, benefiting more than 6,000 youth each year in Rhode Island. She also has involvement in such worthwhile and impactful programs as Neighbors in Need, a program in collaboration with Hasbro & Cumulus Media Inc. benefiting community members and Striking Out Hunger, a program in collaboration with Cox Communications and the Pawtucket Red Sox benefiting the R.I. Community Food Bank.
Ashley’s remarkable commitment to service has led her to participate as a community advisory board member for the United Way of R.I. since 2008. There she was a co-founder of the Young Leaders Circle. What began as a small group of young professionals engaging in the mission of the United Way of Rhode Island has grown to a group with more than 840 members from around the state.
O’Shea is also a development committee member at Youth in Action recognizing that, in her words, “Youth are our future. I think that by cultivating our youth and helping them grow as individuals and leaders, they will be more likely to give back…” Also, in support of this philosophy, Ashley volunteers as a mentor at Year Up. In past years, she served as a board member for the East Bay Coalition for the Homeless and she is a former co-chair of their annual Bike-a-Thon.
According to Ashley’s co-chair in the United Way’s Young Leader’s Circle, Meghan Grady ’08M, “Ashley is committed to giving back to RWU. She has mentored many RWU graduates and provided them with internship opportunities at both Treasury and Citizens Bank.” RWU student, Angela Zmyslinski, who currently interns for Ashley, tells Grady: “This has been the best internship I could ask for – Ashley is the best boss!”
Ashley often finds time in her busy schedule to volunteer at Roger Williams University. She recently spoke to Professor Kathy Micken’s class; has served on a panel for Accepted Students Day; was a table co-host for “Career Dinner Conversations” with students; and served on the R.I. Alumni Chapter.
One of seven family members who graduated from RWU, Ashley and her family also contribute to the Gingerella Family Scholarship providing funds for students to attend Roger Williams University, with special consideration given to students of alumni. Ashley and her husband Michael O’Shea ’06 make their home in Barrington, having fallen in love with the East Bay during their time at Roger Williams University.
Young Alumni Achievement Award
This award recognizes a recent graduate for significant short-term accomplishments who, in his/her first ten years since graduation, has made outstanding contributions to his or her chosen profession and has rendered distinguished service to the public welfare, thus honoring Roger Williams University and the Alumni Association.
The Roger Williams Alumni Association is proud to present the 2014 Young Alumni Achievement Award to Contessa Brown '06 M'13.
Contessa Brown '06 M'13
Providence, Rhode Island
A former claim analyst at Bank of America, Contessa Brown is founder and CEO of Café S.O.U.L., a company she formed in 2009, located in Providence, R.I. According to the organization’s website, Café S.O.U.L. is “a positive alternative to clubs and bars…based on Christian principals,” bringing people of various walks of life together through art, spoken word, poetry, clean comedy, networking and motivational speakers. Contessa’s purpose for Café S.O.U.L. is to provide “a positive platform for the community to creatively meet.” The goal at Café SOUL is to create an informal atmosphere where all feel welcome and everyone is encouraged to express themselves freely without restriction or judgment.
Artist and customer testimonies support that Café S.O.U.L. has fulfilled its purpose and more, citing everything from superb hospitality to inspiring patrons to release their creativity. Café artists praise Contessa for her warm personality and her support for their art.
According to a former mentor, Professor Michael Swanson, Ph.D., “She (Contessa) was a person unafraid to speak her mind, and a person who grew immensely in her four years here.” Noted for her imagination and compassion in her papers and school work, she was well liked by her teachers and peers. “People are my passion. I love to see them prosper and have the best!” said Brown.
“Contessa has a long and rich history with Roger Williams University,” said Don Mays, Associate Director of Admissions. Contessa came to RWU through the Bridge To Success (BTS) program, first as a participant in the University-sponsored college readiness program while she was in high school. She then became a BTS Mentor as an undergraduate, and after graduation, Contessa joined the BTS Advisory Board.
Brown received her B.A. in Psychology from Roger Williams University in 2006 and her M.S. in Leadership in 2013. She is a volunteer for the Alumni Admissions Ambassadors Program at RWU.
The Class Leadership Award
This award recognizes the members of a class for extraordinary leadership,organization and support of Roger Williams University. It is presented annually to honor an outstanding reunion class that encourages exceptional participation and meaningful engagement with the life of the University.
The Roger Williams Alumni Association is proud to present the 2014 Class Leadership Award to The Class of 1994.
The Roger Williams Alumni Association recognizes and congratulates the members of the Class of 1994. Classmates from 1994 have returned to campus in great numbers to celebrate their reunion and the great institution that meant so much to their personal and professional lives.