Keeping Our Roads Safe
Diana Imondi, RWU Class of 2019Alumni
Did you know that driving under the influence of marijuana more than doubles the risk of a crash?
“With the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana we are seeing a huge uptick in marijuana-involved crashes and, unfortunately, fatalities,” said Diana Imondi ’19, Senior Manager of Public Affairs at AAA Northeast. Faced with this crisis, she applied the skills she learned in her RWU Master of Public Administration Program to help drivers stay safe.
“We developed a curriculum for high school health. I applied everything I learned in the MPA program into the development of this course,” said Imondi.
Imondi worked to create “Shifting Gears: The Blunt Truth about Marijuana and Driving,” a free program to educate teens about the risks associated with driving while under the influence of marijuana. This program has already educated over 3,000 high school students in Rhode Island, and will soon extend to other states as well.
After creating the program, Imondi’s team decided to bring it to Brown University’s School of Public Health for their critique and endorsement.
“I remember sitting with my CEO, my director, and my colleague who was the co-developer of that program with researchers from Brown University who had done a serious amount of research themselves on marijuana impaired driving. I was thinking in that meeting, ‘I would never have had the confidence to sit here had I not taken the Roger Williams MPA program.’ My thinking on my measurement and delivery of everything really evolved,” said Imondi.
Imondi also credits the MPA program with giving her what she needed to receive two promotions since enrolling. Working full time and raising a son, Imondi took the program at the pace that worked right for her life: one class per semester.
“I was glad I did it that way. I felt like I had a lot of time to digest each course and really apply it to the work that I’m doing,” said Imondi.
She graduated in December of 2019 and was promoted to Senior Manager on January 1, 2020. “That was one of my goals from the beginning,” said Imondi.