Greater City Providence

Nominees for the Route 195 Redevelopment Commission

Mayor Taveras’ nominees:

Mayor Taveras Submits I-195 Commission Candidates to Governor Chafee

Mayor Angel Taveras has submitted six candidates to Governor Lincoln Chafee for consideration and appointment to the I-195 District Commission. Three of the Mayor’s candidates will be selected by Governor Chafee for the seven-person Commission, which will oversee the development of 20 acres of land made available by the relocation of Interstate 195 in Providence.

“Members of this Commission will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of Providence and the State of Rhode Island. I am confident that these highly qualified individuals will bring considerable expertise to the Commission and look forward to working with the appointees to maximize this unprecedented opportunity for economic development,” said Mayor Taveras.

Candidates include:

Arnold “Buff” Chace – Mr. Chace is the President & CEO of Cornish Associates and has 33 years of experience as an investor, financial advisor, urban planner and real estate developer. He is the Managing General Partner of Cornish Associates, Westminster Street Lofts and Mashpee Commons, L.P. Buff, a longtime Providence resident, is the past Chairman of the Board for Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, board member emeritus of Grow Smart RI, officer and member of the Executive Committee of the Providence Foundation and inaugural member of the Congress for New Urbanism.

Zachary Darrow – Mr. Darrow is the Managing Partner of the Providence based law firm DarrowEverett, LLP where his practice focuses primarily on commercial real estate, corporate, and commercial finance matters. He also currently serves as the Mayor’s Special Advisor on I-195 and the Knowledge District. Zach has been an Adjunct Professor for Roger Williams University School of Law since 2008, regularly teaching courses in Commercial Real Estate Development & Finance and Commercial Leasing. Previously, Zach was a Senior Real Estate Manager for CVS/Caremark – CVS Realty Co., a practicing attorney with the firm of Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP and a partner with the firm of Burns & Levinson, LLP. He has also served in various other non-legal capacities, including serving as President of Real Estate for a national subsidiary of a prominent New York based hedge fund and as Vice President of New Market Development & Chief Legal Officer for a national retail real estate developer.

Barbara Hunger – Ms. Hunger has been a registered nurse in the Labor and Delivery Unit at Women and Infants Hospital for 25 years. Her extensive civic involvement includes leadership positions in the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Elmwood Neighborhood Housing as well as volunteerism with CityArts, Community Music Works and the Steel Yard. She has been an Elmwood resident and homeowner for 25 years and raised two children in the Providence Public Schools.

John Kelly – Mr. Kelly has been the President and CEO of Meeting Street School for the last 14 years. Meeting Street serves over 3,000 Rhode Island children and families each year. During his tenure, John oversaw the development of Meeting Street’s $25 million South Providence campus which resulted in over 180 jobs moving to South Providence (with an additional 40 jobs added since its relocation). An attorney by training, John previously focused his law practice in corporate and real estate law as a partner at Tillinghast, Collins & Graham. John subsequently held a leadership position in a non-profit organization, The Coalition for Community Development, which was created to revitalize downtown Providence. He has served as Chair of the Board of Directors of The Genesis Center and the Providence Revolving Fund and has chaired four city boards and commissions: the Port Commission, the Zoning Board of Review, Adhoc Permitting Review and the Salary Review Commission. As chair of the Adhoc Permitting Review group, John was tasked with streamlining the city’s permitting process. To date, the City has implemented electronic plan review, concurrent plan review and launched of an expedited review process. He is a resident of the city’s south side.

Mark Ryan – Mr. Ryan is a principal at Moses and Afonso, Ltd. where he concentrates his practice in the areas of corporate and business law. Previously, Mark worked at the Providence Journal Company for over twenty-three years where he rose to the position of executive vice president and general manager. He serves as First Vice Chairman and Trustee of the Providence Performing Arts Center; a Director and Member of the Nominating and Legislative Committees of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce; a Member of the Rhode Island Commodores and a Member of the Rhode Island Bar Association.

Laurie White – Ms. White has been the President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce since 2005. Previously, she served as Executive Counselor to the Governor for Policy and Communications and Senior Vice President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. She is a member of the Executive Board of the University of Rhode Island Foundation, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Rhode Island Historical Society, a member of the Board of Directors of the Providence Plan, a member of the Board of Governors of the Rhode Island Commodores, a member of the President’s Council at Providence College, a member of the President’s Civic Leadership Council at Brown University and a member of the President’s Advisory Council at the University of Rhode Island.


House Speaker Gordon Fox’s nominees, via WRNI:

Speaker Fox forwarded the names of John Kelly, Samuel Shamoon and Merrill W. Sherman for selection by Governor Chafee as one of the seven members of the new commission. Under the terms of the I-195 Redevelopment Act (2011-H 5994Aaa and 2011-S 0114Baa) enacted by the General Assembly in June, the Governor is to give “due consideration” to the list of three names forwarded by the Speaker to fill one of the seven positions on the commission.

“This commission is critically important to the development of the I-195 land and to the economic development of our capital city and state,” said Speaker Fox. “I heard from many dedicated, qualified and experienced people requesting that I forward their name to the Governor for consideration.

“I am extremely confident that any one of the three names that I forwarded will be a great asset to the commission,” Speaker Fox continued. “Based on their experience, professional qualifications, and knowledge of the City of Providence, I would not be surprised if the Governor strongly considers using one or more of his own three selections to the commission on one of these individuals.”

John Kelly – He has been the President and CEO of Meeting Street, which serves more than 3,000 Rhode Island children and families on an annual basis, for the past 14 years. He oversaw the development ofMeeting Street’s new $25 million Providence campus, where he oversees a staff of 180 employees.

Also an attorney, Kelly formerly practiced corporate and real estate law as a partner at Tillinghast, Collins and Graham. He also held a leadership position in a non-profit organization, The Coalition for Community Development, created to revitalize downtownProvidence. He has chaired severalProvidenceboards, including the Port Commission, the Zoning Board of Review, the Ad-hoc Permitting Review and the Salary Review Commission.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall College and a law degree from BostonCollege.

Samuel Shamoon – He the President of Shamoon Planning LLC as a consultant to approximately a dozen Rhode Island communities on planning, zoning, and development review issues. He previously served as the Director of the City of Providence’s Department of Planning and Development as well as being a former director of the City of Providence’s Department of Inspection and Standards, where he oversaw building inspectors, code enforcement officers and boards of review. He was formerly a professor at the University of Rhode Island, teaching graduate courses on community planning and area development.

Shamoon holds degrees from URI and Tufts Universityand is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He also volunteers as a trustee to the Providence Preservation Society and is a member of the technical committee of the Knowledge District.

Merrill Sherman – She is the President and CEO of Bancorp Rhode Island, Inc., a publicly traded bank holding company, and wholly owned subsidiary, Bank RhodeIsland. ince spearheading the 1996 creation of Bank RhodeIsland, it has grown to be a leading commercial bank with $1.6 billion in total assets, with a network of 17 branches.

Among her many honors, Ms. Sherman was selected in 2010 as one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking by U.S. Banker magazine, and in 2008 she was chosen as New England Businesswoman of the Year by Bryant University. She was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2007.

Prior to her work at Bank Rhode Island, she served as president and CEO of two otherNew Englandbanks, and before that, she spent 17 years practicing law a major regional firm. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College and a law degree from the University of Denver, College of Law.

John Kelly is a popular guy.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • It would have been nice to have seen champions of compact development, small city blocks, mixed use, complete streets, transit, and/or walkability chosen.

  • Buff Chace tore down half a city block of downtown and put up a (temporary) parking lot waiting for his development opportunity. What he DID is exactly what many are afraid will happen with some of the 195 land. That is the guy we want as urban design advocate on the commission? We can look forward to more surface parking – this time though, with better pots of petunias around the edges.

  • I know Sam Shamoon well. He would be a good advocate for the urbanism we all desire as well. He “gets” the issues…

  • I agree that Buff Chace is an ideal person to have on this commitee. He is an advocate for smart urban design/growth. Westminster st. wouldn’t be what it is today if not for him. I was very excited when I saw his name on this list.

  • Ian Donnis reports the nominees are as follows:

    Chairman: Developer Colin Kane of the Peregrine Group.

    The other members are Dr. Barrett Bready of NABsys, labor and delivery nurse Barbara Hunger; art consultant Diana L. Johnson; lawyer and civic activist John Kelly; lawyer Mark T. Ryan, a principal at Moses and Alfonso; and nonprofit developer Michael Van Leesten.

    The nominees now face Senate confirmation.

  • More from ProJo:

    In naming the seven-member panel, Chafee chose three of the six people recommended by Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and one of the three recommended by House Speaker Gordon D. Fox, but one of the governor’s choices — John M. Kelly, president and CEO of Meeting Street School — had been recommended by both the mayor and the speaker.

    Read the entire ProJo post for expanded bios on the nominees.

  • So of course, the two nominees that, on paper, would have been as close to champions of advocating for the pre-war urban form as possible (Buff Chace and Sam Shamoon) did not get nominated. I am disappointed.

  • me too. disappointing.

    BTW, i think John Kelly is a very nice man, but how does he end up on so many lists? Does he have pictures or something? 🙂

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