Providence, Rhode Island— At the 199th annual meeting of the Rhode Island Historical Society, held virtually on November 17, the Rhode Island Historical Society welcomed a slate of newly elected officers and trustees. Officers included Robert Sloan, Jr. as Chair; Anthony Calandrelli as Vice-Chair; Peter Miniati for Treasurer; and Winifred Brownell as Secretary. In addition, new trustees include Attorney Alicia J. Samolis, JD; Providence Businessman Stanley Weiss; and URI Professor Vanessa Wynder Quainoo, Ph.D. 

Short biographies are included below.

Chair: Robert H. Sloan, Jr., CLU, ChFC, recently retired from Sloan Associates in Warwick.

He has served on the RIHS Board since November of 2016. He has been Secretary for the past three years, and served on numerous RIHS committees, including the Executive, Investment, Collections, South County Properties, and the Putting Down Roots. He recently retired from Sloan Associates, a financial advising firm, after 46 years. Professional associations include the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, the Society of Financial Service Professionals, and the Estate Planning Council of Rhode Island. In addition to the RIHS, Sloan’s numerous charitable and civic interests include the East Greenwich Free Library, the Library Board of Rhode Island, the Rotary Club of East Greenwich, Rhode Island Hospice, Providence Public Schools, and the Society of Colonial Wars. Sloan holds a BS in Business Administration from the Rochester Institute of Technology,  an FAA commercial pilot’s license, and a USCG Masters License, fifty-ton, with a sail endorsement. He is a member of Mensa. 

Vice-Chair: Anthony Calandrelli, President, American Ring Company, Inc.

Anthony Calandrelli graduated from Boston College in 1978 with a BS in Finance and Accounting.  He immediately went to work at the family business, American Ring Company.  He owns several other companies in Rhode Island and he serves on numerous nonprofit boards in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  He and his wife Eduarda have three children and three grandchildren.  They live in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, and Narragansett RI in the summer.  Anthony was previously elected to the board in November 2012 and served 2 terms (6 years).  He is Chair of the Investment Committee and serves as a member of the Audit Committee and the Finance Committee.  

Treasurer: Peter J. Miniati, JD, CFP, Private Client Advisor, F.L. Putnam Investment Management Company

Peter Miniati has more than 25 years of experience in wealth planning, business development, and banking for Washington Trust Wealth Management, as well as Citizens Financial Group and Fleet Financial Group. Miniati has also practiced corporate law. Miniati is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and Suffolk University Law School (cum laude). He has served as President of the University of Rhode Island Alumni Association, Treasurer for the Rhode Island Historical Society (2005-2010), URI Foundation, and the University Club, Providence. He has also served on the boards of the Bayside YMCA Council, St. Raphael Academy, Hattie Ide Chaffee, and the URI Foundation Investment Committee. Peter is currently a member of the RI and Bristol County, MA Estate Planning Councils, RI Society of CPAs (PAM Member), the RI Bar Association, and is a Fellow of the RI Bar Foundation. While raising his family in Barrington, Peter was an active coach in youth sports, and now he and his wife Sandy enjoy boating and reading.  Peter was previously a member of the RIHS board from November 2004 until November 2010. During that time he served as Treasurer for three years and, as such, was Chair of the Finance Committee and a member of the Executive Committee.  

Secretary:  Winifred E. Brownell, Ph.D.

Dr. Brownell is the former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Rhode Island. Before she was appointed Dean in 1999, Dr. Brownell served for 3 years as Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences, 5 years as Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, and over 20 years on the faculty of Communication Studies at URI. In 1977-78 she coordinated the College of Human Science and Services at URI, and in 1978-79, she served as an ACE Fellow in academic administration at the University of Utah. In 1988, Dr. Brownell received the URI Foundation Teaching Excellence Award; in 1996, she received the Association of Academic and Professional Women “Woman of the Year” award; in 1999, she received the Lambda Pi Eta Richard E. Bailey Service Award for Excellence in the Art of Human Communication; in 2003, she received the Multicultural Center Administrative Excellence Award; and in 2006 she received the Rhode Island International Film Festival Producer’s Circle Award. Her publications include articles in Communication Monographs, Communication Quarterly, Personnel Journal, Communication Research Reports, The Encyclopedia of Aging, and The Gerontologist. Dr. Brownell has received over $3,850,000 in grant funding for creative and research projects, and she has helped attract over $30,000,000 in individual, corporate and foundation awards, pledges and in-kind gifts to URI.

Trustees Nominated for Initial Terms of Three Years

Alicia J. Samolis, JD

Attorney Alicia Samolis is a Partner and the Chair of Labor & Employment Practice at Partridge Snow and Hahn LLP in Providence. She represents businesses and management in labor and employment litigation, and compliance matters.  Samolis defends employers in disputes in state and federal court, the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, federal and state wage and hour agencies, and other mediation, arbitration and administrative proceedings. On the compliance side, she advises management at all stages of the employment relationship, regularly counseling senior management, human resource professionals, and business owners on applicable employment laws and pending legislation. Samolis’s expertise includes a broad range of employment issues, such as wage and hour compliance and defense, employment discrimination issues, employee handbooks, manager training, noncompetition enforcement and defense, executive employment agreements, and individual and group terminations. Prior to joining Partridge Snow & Hahn, Samolis served as a law clerk to the Honorable Justice Francis J. Darigan, Jr., Providence County Superior Court.

Vanessa Wynder Quainoo, Ph.D.

Dr. Vanessa Quainoo is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI. She served as Director of Africana Studies from 2012 – 2018 and was reappointed for a two-year term beginning July 2020. During her tenure, she led the Program to reshape the focus of the annual Black History Month celebration from a departmental event to a campus and community-wide observance. Along with her husband, Dr. Joseph Quainoo (Adjunct Professor), she began the Ghana Study Abroad program and encouraged the global significance of Africana Studies. She also started the KASA student magazine on African and African American affairs (Kasa means “speak” in the West African language of Twi.) Her KASA editorials have been recognized as insightful, inspiring, and hopeful. An Ordained Minister, Dr. Quainoo has a strong interest in developing and promoting reconciliatory models of race relations. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in race and media analysis, implementing race-sensitive methodologies such as Afrocentricity and Critical Race Theory.

Stanley Weiss

Mr. Weiss, Principal of Stanley Weiss Associates, LLC, is Chairman of the Providence Public Buildings Authority. Mr. Weiss was previously a member of the Capital Center Commission, and more recently served as a Board Member of Commerce Rhode Island. For more than a decade, he has been a trustee of the Providence Foundation and is a former trustee of the Providence Performing Arts Center. Prior to that, Weiss was Chairman of the Providence Review Commission and Commissioner of the Port of Providence. Mr. Weiss developed several real estate projects before and during employment with Citizens Trust Company as a Vice President in the Trust Department. He has been the Managing Partner of the University Heights shopping center/apartment complex in Providence, and has also developed the Hotel Providence, and Grace Park. Additionally, he restored the Fletcher and Mason Buildings on Weybosset Street and brought in RISD as its major tenant. He has received statewide preservation awards for his restoration of the Tilden Thurber Building on the corners of Westminster and Mathewson. Mr. Weiss has had a lifelong passion for classical furniture and over the past 40+ years, he has assembled one of the best collections in the country of museum-quality classical furniture, as well as many key Rhode Island 18-century pieces. He was appointed to the RIHS Board by presidential appointment in January 2020.  He has served on the Board Collections Committee since 2010.

About the Rhode Island Historical Society

Founded in 1822, the RIHS, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is the fourth-oldest historical society in the United States and is Rhode Island’s largest and oldest historical organization. In Providence, the RIHS owns and operates the John Brown House Museum, a designated National Historic Landmark, built in 1788; the Aldrich House, built in 1822 and used for administration and public programs; and the Mary Elizabeth Robinson Research Center, where archival, book and image collections are housed. In Woonsocket, the RIHS manages the Museum of Work and Culture, a community museum examining the industrial history of northern Rhode Island and of the workers and settlers, especially French-Canadians, who made it one of the state’s most distinctive areas.