Four RIC grads make list of R.I.’s 10 in 2010

A Providence Sunday Journal article has selected 10 prominent people to watch in 2010; four are RIC grads.

As the new year began, the Providence Sunday Journal selected 10 local people who are likely to influence and inspire Rhode Islanders over the next 12 months.

Umberto Crenca `81, Gordon Fox `85, Allan Fung `92 and George Nee `90 have made various achievements in the areas of politics, labor, education, and the arts and are expected to have a major impact on the state this year, according to the Jan. 3, Providence Sunday Journal article, 10 People to Watch in 2010 in RI.

Umberto Crenca
Crenca, who majored in the arts at RIC, is the founding artistic director of AS220, the local non-profit community arts space which is celebrating 25 years in operation.
In 2010, AS220 will continue its mission by opening the Mercantile Block on Washington Street as living and studio space for local artists.

By expanding its reach, AS220 will continue to develop downtown Providence with spaces for creative expression.

In politics, Gordon Fox, who double majored in political science and public administration at RIC, is the current House majority leader and is expected to replace William Murphy as speaker of the house later this year.

Gordon Fox
Facing competition from the more conservative wing of his party, the openly gay, biracial Fox has been a major supporter of Murphy, who publicly endorsed Fox as his successor in October 2009.

Fox explained that balancing the budget and education reform will be among the most daunting challenges facing the state in 2010. “Improving our economic development efforts and creating more jobs will go a long way toward helping us deal with the budget crisis,” said Fox.

On education, Fox said, “We also have to find a way in the 2010 session to achieve a fair and equitable education-funding formula. It is critical that we provide our children with the opportunity to succeed.”

AFL-CIO President George Nee sees rough waters ahead in the Ocean State. Representing the 200 unions that make up the AFL-CIO, he will be a key figure in debates over the state’s economy.

Despite his new position, Nee will continue to speak on behalf of state workers, as organized labor is expected to be a major player in the issue of cuts in state aid to cities and towns.

Nee graduated from RIC in 1992 with a degree in labor studies and won the first contested election in Rhode Island AFL-CIO history this past September. He is likely to be a leader in the coalition of mayors, town managers, municipal workers and teachers as they attempt to fight cuts in state aid.

Allan Fung
Fung will also have an active voice in the budget debates. The Cranston mayor entered office during one of the most turbulent times in the state’s recent history, and is working to balance the city’s budget.

Because his city stands to lose nearly $20 million between fiscal years 2010 and 2011, Fung is seeking solutions, such as proposing a consolidation of city and town services between communities, although layoffs and department shutdowns are still an option.

Fung, an attorney who graduated with a degree in political science from RIC, is the first Asian-American to hold elected office in the state and will seek reelection in 2010. Despite this, he told the Journal that he still has difficult decisions to make.

“I’m prepared to do the right thing for the citizens of Cranston," said Fung. "Even if it means the possibility of not getting reelected.”