Leadership in Action for Women's Rights
Kelly Nevins, RWU Class of 2015Alumni
“Our goal is to achieve gender equity through systemic change,” said Kelly Nevins ‘15, Executive Director at the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island (WFRI.) A graduate of RWU’s Master in Science of Leadership program, Nevins embodies leadership in action every day in her career.
“We help women think about running for office, we train women to advocate for change, and we do direct advocacy work on women’s economic security and access to reproductive health and freedom. We also publish research on the status of women and girls in Rhode Island,” said Nevins.
As the executive director, Nevins is ultimately responsible for everything that happens at the organization. She spends her time fundraising and drumming up support for the issues that WFRI addresses.
Recently, Nevins has been spending a lot of time at the state house building relationships with legislators and providing testimony on bills that impact women and girls. In 2018 and 2019 alone, her organization helped pass bills that ensure that every Rhode Island employee gets paid sick time, repealed the tax on menstrual products, and codified Roe V. Wade.
“I like connecting with people and I like the idea that every day I’m doing something that is going to have a major impact on the people in our state,” said Nevins.
Nevins initially found WFRI through a project in her leadership program.
“We had to prepare case studies about a nonprofit in Rhode Island we were interested in and I chose the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, and this was prior to my becoming employed by them. It was because of the case study work I was doing that I thought, ‘Oh, this would be a cool organization to work for.’ Ultimately, I got the job here,” she said.
The leadership program also taught Nevins skills essential to her job, such as creating a budget that ties to mission objectives. Her classes expanded her understanding of issues that guide her work.
“The leadership courses I took at Roger Williams gave me different ways of thinking about equity and inclusion. There was a particular course that I took early on in the program focused on diversity issues and I felt that it was really important to the work I am doing today,” said Nevins.
Beyond preparing her for this meaningful career, the leadership program gave Nevins lasting community and good friends.
“In the master’s program you form a real tight bond with the other students that are in your cohort. I remain very close with many of the folks who I attended Roger Williams with. We still meet today,” she said.