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New URI Foundation Executive Board Chair Elected, New Members Appointed

(KINGSTON, RI) – July 5, 2011 – The University of Rhode Island Foundation today announced the recent election of a new chairman to lead its Executive Board. Thomas J. Silvia ’83, former bond group leader and portfolio manager with Fidelity Investments and current managing partner of Sanctuary Capital, was elected by the Foundation trustees on Saturday, June 18, 2011, to his new, three-year, volunteer post. Silvia takes the reigns from outgoing Board chair George Graboys, who recently completed his term.

The URI Foundation, established in 1957, is a non-profit, independent corporation charged with managing the University of Rhode Island’s endowment portfolio, currently valued at over $103 million, and administering all fundraising and development activities on the University’s behalf.

A highly regarded executive in financial circles, Silvia rose through the ranks of Fidelity, a world leader in financial services, joining the firm in 1993 as a senior mortgage trader. He previously worked as a quantitative analyst and trader for Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

An active volunteer for the University, Sylvia has served on the Ram Fund Advisory Board, and on a number of URI Foundation Executive Board committees including the investment, campaign leadership, and personnel committees. He, along with his wife, Shannon Chandley ’83, a former state representative with the New Hampshire House of Representatives, has a significant record of philanthropic support of the University. He holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University.

URI Foundation President Glen R. Kerkian said, “We are fortunate that someone of Tom’s caliber will be leading our Board. His strong background in investments is particularly ideal, as URI’s endowment portfolio, and its oversight, remains a key element to sustaining and growing vital charitable support for the University. Tom’s keen understanding of financial issues, coupled with his commitment and loyalty to his alma mater will serve the Board and the University well.”

In other news, four new Board members were also appointed at the Board’s recent annual trustees meeting: John Brennan ’81, Carol J. Makovich ’75, Susan Sosnowski, and Laurie White ’81.

John Brennan, co-founder and managing director of Sirios Capital Management in Boston, received his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from URI in 1981 and an M.B.A. from Stanford in 1985. He formerly served as senior vice president of MFS Investment Management, where he acted as a portfolio manager and a member of the firm’s Advisory Board and Equity Management Group.

Carol J. Makovich received her journalism degree from URI in 1975, and has a master’s degree from Fairfield University and an M.B.A. from the University of Connecticut. An accomplished communications and public relations executive in the New York City area, she is a principal with Owen Blicksilver Public Relations, a firm specializing in merger and acquisition transactions, private equity and real estate investment funds, investor relations and brand development. An active URI supporter, Makovich currently serves as a board member for the Harrington School of Communications, and previously served as a member of the President’s Advisory Committee. Makovich received a Distinguished Achievement Dean’s List Award from URI in 2009.

Senator Susan Sosnowski is a Rhode Island state representative from West Kingston. She is a well-respected member of the legislature, having served since 1996, and of the local community. The first woman to represent South Kingstown in the Senate, Sosnowski is the chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Agriculture. She and her family have owned and operated an organic farm in West Kingston for more than twenty-five years, raising livestock and growing a variety of produce, flowers and turf. She is a member of the board of directors of the Rhode Island Farm Bureau.

Laurie White received her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1981. She is president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Rhode Island’s largest business advocacy and membership association. Under her leadership, the Chamber has received eighteen national awards for communications and public policy initiatives, including the Grand Award from the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. White holds the distinction of being the only chamber professional from Rhode Island to hold the designation of Certified Chamber Executive. Previously, she served as executive vice president of the Chamber and as executive counselor for policy and communications for Governor Donald Carcieri. White serves on URI’s Journalism Advisory Group and the President’s Advisory Council. She received an honorary doctorate from Johnson & Wales University and a Distinguished Achievement Dean’s List Award in 2010. She resides in North Kingstown with her husband, veteran television reporter Jim Taricani.

White, Makovich and Brennan will each serve a three-year term. Sosnowski will serve a one-year term.

URI President David Dooley said, “I am delighted to congratulate Tom Silvia and to welcome the new members to the Board. Each one of them is a true leader in his or her respective field and their knowledge, insight and contributions they can bring to the Foundation will, no doubt, bear positive results for the University as it continues its transformation into a global leader in higher education, research and partnership.”

For more information about the Foundation, please visit


For information on this or any news item, contact Tracey Manni in Development Communications, at 401.874.2145 or