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Public Leaders in Rhode Island Innovate for Safer, Greener Cities and Schools, Serving Citizens Better, and Saving Money Through 'Leadership Matters RI'

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- 'Leadership Matters RI' achieves another year of successful outcomes in Rhode Island. Citizens in Central Falls, Cumberland, Pawtucket and Portsmouth will benefit from the learning and innovative work of their public leaders. The Public Sector Consortium, a national nonprofit dedicated to the "reinvention of public leadership for the public good," has worked with the cities/towns, legislators and school departments from these municipalities and their projects are once again yielding benefits.

"We have partnered with proactive city and town leaders, public educators, university leaders, and elected legislators across Rhode Island, providing them with the skills to take a system-wide strategic approach to complex challenges," said Georgie Bishop, President of the Public Sector Consortium. "It is not always easy to shift ingrained ways of doing business but once leaders experience how new skills can help them be more effective, lower their stress levels and achieve better results, it transforms how work gets done," continued Bishop.

Portsmouth town officials are projecting yearly savings after implementing an advanced LED street lighting program. The new lights provide cost savings that will fund new capital projects (such as building improvements, police and fire equipment, and vehicles) as well as increase public safety. The town has 900 streetlights that contain old high-pressure sodium light bulbs, which are expensive to operate. "The skills we learned showed us the importance of innovation and initiating a smart technology program as well as the need to create the buy-in and engagement across all city departments," said Rich Rainer, Portsmouth town Administrator. "We coordinated an information campaign and solicited feedback and input from our citizens and elected officials. We started the discussion with the cost savings and how it can be financed…" continued Rainer.  This approach created the buy-in needed from all the necessary stakeholders.

Central Falls instituted a structured calendar procedure to assure that all requests for the Mayor's time are planned and staffed. A citizen survey shows that over 90% of the citizens receiving services from the Mayor's office are satisfied with the services received. "The program encouraged our team to think outside of the box," said Central Falls Mayor, James A. Diossa. "We as a City are always looking for ways to improve our services and communication with our residents," said Chief of Staff, Joshua J. Giraldo. "The Leadership Matters RI Program, has helped to create protocols and systems to better serve our community in the most efficient way possible." "We are more organized and are able to provide quicker response rates. We have better procedures to measure our success and look forward to results that will continuously improve," said Wilder Arboleda, Central Falls Business Outreach and Public Relations Coordinator.

Pawtucket city and school department officials wanted to determine if residents of all ages and ethnicities were satisfied with the quality of communications from their school department and city government.  Pawtucket leaders designed a public gathering with focus groups of business leaders, religious leaders, seniors, parents, students, and non-profit leaders. All were asked to provide examples of where the city and school department are getting it right and where there is room for improvement in their communications regarding: crises, public works, and general city & school topics.  The Pawtucket civic meeting design, survey instruments and exit survey were so well received by the attendees they are now shared with all local government leaders attending the Leadership Matters programs in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Pawtucket Leaders learned to their surprise that residents were having a hard time finding answers to their questions on multiple websites and in different forms of media. They were looking for one stop shopping to get what they needed. A single landing page was created: 'Connect with Us', a dashboard that can be easily navigated by citizens looking to connect with either city departments or schools about a variety of issues. 

Cumberland school department leaders now have a better understanding of what is needed to implement an evidence-based later start to the school day. This would contribute to the improvement of health, safety, and academic achievement of all students. The leaders aim to achieve these goals with new school hours based on existing evidence of success in other jurisdictions.

"Creating the methods to study the health and safety of our students has been critical to our initiative," said Bob Mitchell, Superintendent of Cumberland Schools.  "After taking the 'Leadership Matters RI' program we realized that a comprehensive communication and civic engagement process was crucial for this initiative to have the support it needs to succeed and have the resources it needs to get off the ground next fall. Stakeholders throughout the community are now more aware of the research on sleep deprivation and its impact on student performance, community safety and mental health."

As a result of the PSC's 'Leadership Matters RI' program, public sector leaders are governing collaboratively with their citizen partners and seeing improved results in services, safety, communications, savings and the environment.  The PSC, with its partner organizations, delivers the Leadership Matters Program in Rhode Island and Massachusetts with the goal of seeing it expand to all states.

Georgianna Bishop 


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