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About Us - NEL/CPS Construction Career Academy Board of Directors and Advisors to the Board of Directors
Standing: Joseph Sabitoni, Paula McFarland, Michael Traficante, Dennis Curran, Dr. Anthony Leone. Seated: Stephen Cardi II, John Santangelo, David Rampone, Linda Oberlander. (Not pictured: Dr. Judith Lundsten)
Advisors to the Board
Chairperson of Board of Directors, NEL/CPS Construction & Career Academy
Director of Governmental Affairs, New England Laborers'
As Chairman of the Board of Directors for the NEL/CPS Construction and Career Academy and Director of Governmental Affairs for the New England Laborers’, Michael Traficante has been instrumental in the development and on-going success of one of the most innovative charter schools in both Rhode Island and the nation. Under Mr. Traficante’s leadership, the Construction Career Academy has uniquely infused the Construction Craft Laborers’ Program into a thriving academic institution with Problem-Based Learning at its core.
Mr. Traficante continues to significantly contribute to the educational welfare of students across the City of Cranston, presently as Chairman of the Cranston School Committee and having served on it since 2004.
Prior to joining the New England Laborers’ in 1999 Mr. Traficante served over forty years of his professional career in public service. He first began his career in the educational arena where he served as a mathematics teacher, football and wrestling coach, and a high school administrator. For six years, he presided as the President of the Cranston City Council, for fourteen years he served as Mayor of the City of Cranston. Since joining the New England Laborers’ staff, not only has Mr. Traficante been instrumental in developing the Construction and Career Academy, but also implementing the Construction Craft Laborers’ Program in other vocational high schools including; Medford Vocational Technical High, Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High and Providence Career and Technical School.
In his capacity as Director of Governmental Affairs, Mr. Traficante is responsible for fostering a positive and cooperative working relationship between the Laborers’ Union and governmental officials throughout the New England region. He also serves as the point person for researching legislative and operational information throughout New England that potentially may impact upon the construction industry, the Union, signatory contractors, and Union membership at large. During his tenure as Director of Governmental Affairs, Mr. Traficante has and continues to sit on many boards and committees throughout Rhode Island.
A graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and Rhode Island College with a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration, Mike served in the United States Army Third Infantry Division in Korea, and was honorably discharged in 1966 at the rank of Captain.
President, Hart Engineering Corporation
As a newly appointed NEL/CPS Construction and Career Academy Board Member,
David F. Rampone brings his wealth of knowledge and experience in the Construction Technology Industry as well as the Laborers' International Union of North America,
New England Region. As President of Hart Engineering Corporation, he has a keen understanding of how the Construction and Career Academy prepares students for a successful future in the Constuction Technology Industry. Hart Engineering Corporation is a self-performing general and process mechanical contracting company specializing in the water and wastewater treatment, biotech, pharmaceutical and power generation industries.
Mr. Rampone graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1978. That same year, he joined Hart as a project manager. In 1984, he was named Vice President of General Construction Operations. In April of 1992, he was named Executive Vice President, and became President in 1994.
In addition to overseeing the day-to-day management of Hart, Mr. Rampone is a Management Trustee of LIUNA's New England Tri Funds; Vice Chairman of the Rhode Island State Apprentice Council; Board Member of Build Rhode Island; Management Trustee of the Rhode Island Carpenters Union Fund, as well as the UA Local 51 Pension Fund. He is also an AGC National Life Director, President of the Rhode Island AGC National Union Contractors Committee and a Miriam Hospital Foundation Trustee.
Mr. Cardi is currently Executive Vice President of Cardi Construction Corporation based in Warwick, Rhode Island. Cardi Construction is a renown leader in providing construction services in heavy/highway and bridge construction since 1900 with projects throughout New England. Some of them include the Capitol Center River Relocation Project in Providence, Route 95 Reconstruction from Westerly to Providence, the Central Artery Tunnel Project in Boston, the Intermodal Project new T.F. Green Airport in Warwick and the Reconstruction and Relocation of Route 195 in Providence. Cardi Corporation is also a major supplier of construction materials such as concrete, asphalt, sand and stone.
Mr. Cardi is also involved in numerous professional and civic organizations. He is President of the Construction Industries of Rhode Island. He has served as President of the Associated General Contractors of Rhode Island, a member of the Construction Industries of Rhode Island, a National Director of the National Asphalt Pavement Association, a voting member of American Road & Transportation Builders Association, a member of the Rhode Island Utility Contractors Association, and Chairman of the Rhode Island Building Scholarship Fund.
Board member, Anthony Leone, has advanced the NEL/CPS Construction and Career Academy in many substantial and vital ways, most notably, serving as a link to higher education. Through his academic leadership and vision, Mr. Leone helped to negotiate an innovative Articulation Agreement between the Community College of Rhode Island and the Construction and Career Academy. The agreement allows Construction and Career Academy students who successfully complete their Construction Craft Laborer Apprenticeship to apply up to 20 credits toward an Associates Degree in Applied Science & Technical Studies.
Mr. Leone’s accomplished academic career began as a teacher of French at Johnston Jr. – Sr. High School. He then moved to higher education, working at the Community of College of Rhode Island in various capacities as Associate Professor of Foreign Languages and Psychology. He has also served as Director of Public Affairs at the University of Rhode Island. Subsequently he has served as Rhode Island’s Associate Commissioner of Higher Education and has served on the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education.
Currently Mr. Leone serves on several committees and boards including the Education Commission of the States and the State Education Policy Seminars (SEPS) as its Rhode Island State Coordinator. Mr. Leone also sits on the Executive Board of the Providence Boys and Girls Clubs. Among his many achievements, Mr. Leone has received the distinguished Community Leaders of America Award as well as the Education Commission of the States Service Recognition.
Dr. Judith Lundsten
Superintendent, Cranston Public Schools
Dr. Judith A. Lundsten currently serves as Superintendent of Cranston Public Schools. With Dr. Lundsten's academic acumen and vast educational background, she has helped to assist the Construction and Career Academy in the areas of state mandates and district educational policy. She has also acted as a great resource in helping to shape programs and guidelines at the Charter School, working closely and diligently with the NEL/CPS teachers, staff, and administrators in successfully implementing new and innovative math and science curriculum. She has also been quite instrumental with various teaching and learning strategies and is an invaluable resource to the Charter School.
Dr. Lundsten began her career in Cranston in 1983 as a special education teacher working with visually impaired and resource students. Several years later she moved into an elementary teaching position. After achieving National Board Certification, she attained other leadership positions including principal of Arlington and Oak Lawn Elementary Schools. Thereafter Dr. Lundsten became the Executive Director of Educational Programs and Services for the City of Cranston, leading up to serve as Assistant Superintendent of Cranston Public Schools until her appointment to the City's current Superintendent. Dr. Lunsten has been involved in many community and professional organizations, including St. Mary's Home for Children and the Family Literacy Center at Dorcas Place. She is also an active member of the Rhode Island Advisory Board for students with visual disabilities and a member of the Rhode Island School Superintendent's Association.
Dr. Lundsten has a B.S. in Elementary Education from New York State University College at Oneonta, New York; a Masters in Special Education from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Johnson and Wales University.
Joseph M. Sabitoni
Executive Director, New England Laborers’ Training Academy
Advisors to the Board of Directors
Dennis M. CurranMr. Dennis M. Curran, of Pawcatuck, Connecticut, recently served as Interim Assistant Superintendent for the Westerly Public School District while he also served as Principal at Westerly Middle School. During his tenure at the middle school, it saw a dramatic rise in student results on state NECAP tests. In fact, this year his school was commended by the Rhode Island Board of Regents for its statistically significant improvement in math and reading scores over the last three years.
Executive Director, NEL/CPS Construction & Career Academy
For thirty years Mr. Curran has devoted his professional career to public education, garnering a distinguished reputation as a leader and compassionate facilitator. He began as a Social Studies Teacher in the Connecticut Public School system and worked his way through the ranks to become an Assistant Principal at Stonington High School. He also served as principal of both Mystic Middle School and Clark Lane Middle School, until his administrative tenure in the Westerly Public School District.
Mr. Curran was also a proud 32-year member of the Laborers' International Union of North America, New England Region, working with Local 547 in New London, Connecticut. As a Laborer in the field during high school, college and his early career as a teacher, Mr. Curran is very familiar with the skill sets students in the Construction Craft Laborers' Program must attain.
Dr. Rosemary Burns
Assistant Principal, NEL/CPS Contruction & Career Academy
Dr. Rosemary Burns currently serves as Assistant Principal at NEL/CPS and has been actively involved in education and teaching for over two decades. She began her career as a teacher at Our Lady of Czenstochowa School in Coventry, RI from 1980-1981, and then moved on to teach at the Wheeler School in Providence from 1981-1983. After leaving the Wheeler School, she taught in the Lincoln Public Schools system from 1987-2006 both on the elementary and high school level. It was at that time that the RI Department of Education requested that Dr. Burns participate in the development of the Rhode Island Diploma System and also invited her to become a Fellow.
From 2006 to the present time, Dr. Burns has served as a Secondary Redesign Specialist where her leadership and support to middle and high schools helped to implement initiatives such as the RI Diploma System and Basic Education Program, using data for determining student learning needs, program evaluation, professional development, and school improvement planning. She has also worked to expand learning opportunities through collaboration between teachers and community organizations in several urban districts, and was active in implementing dual enrollment scholarships for underserved and underrepresented youth as RIDE Liaison to the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education.
Dr. Burns has earned a Doctor of Education Degree from Johnson and Wales University in 2010. She has also earned a Master of Education Degree from Rhode Island College, as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Arizona State University.
Assistant to the Director, Recruitment, NEL/CPS Construction & Career Academy
Executive Director, Cranston Alternate Education
As a Construction Career Academy Board Member Advisor and Director of Cranston Alternate Education, Mrs. Gayle Dzekevich has been committed to student advancement and adult learning for the past 30 years. She began her career in 1978 as a teacher in high school preparation (GED) classes for Cranston Public Schools. Several years later she was appointed Adult Basic Education (ABE) Coordinator, encompassing English as a Second Language (ESL) and High School Equivalency (GED). All of the aforementioned programs have been incorporated into the NEL/CPS Construction and Career Academy and continue to successfully operate and expand under Mrs. Dzekevich’s leadership today.
In 1997, Mrs. Dzekevich assisted in creating and developing the Alternate Education Program (AEP) for high school students in Cranston who did not find success in a traditional high school setting. The following year, she assisted in starting the highly successful AEP Credit Recovery Program which ran in the evenings for those students who needed to make up credits to meet graduation requirements. Both of these thriving programs, as well as the Vocational Training Programs for Adults (VTA), continue to broaden and assist students throughout the Cranton School District and beyond.
Her dedication in developing, enriching and broadening these programs, so all students involved – whether enrolled high schools students who need to recoup credits – or adults who wish to obtain their GED or learn new skills for employment - can enrich their futures and prosper in their lifelong goals.
Joseph BalducciAs Chief Financial Officer for Cranston Public Schools since 1999, The NEL/CPS Construction and Career Academy has relied on his fiduciary expertise regarding issues associated with the Academy’s budgetary process, including cost effectiveness, conservative expenditures and total budget development.
Chief Financial Officer, Cranston Public Schools
Prior to joining Cranston Public Schools, Mr. Baldacci served as Business Manager for the Coventry School System. The remainder of his career was primarily focused in public accounting and banking where he served as an Internal Auditor/Commercial Finance Officer for Hospital Trust and Fleet Banks. He further worked for the accounting firms Barmelee & Sheehan as well as Bacon, Edge & Associates.
Mr. Balducci graduated from Bryant College with a B.S. and a Masters in Business Administration.
Raymond L. Votto Jr.Gail Macera
Chief Operating Officer, Human Resources, Cranston Public Schools
Executive Assistant to the Superintendent
Gail Macera's official title is Personal and Confidential Executive Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools. To the New England Laborers'/Cranston Public Schools Construction and Career Academy, Gail is a powerhouse of energy, keeper of the records and the chief organizer of our Board. As Executive Assistant to the late Superintendent Catherine Ciarlo, one of the school's co-founders, Gail has been instrumental in every aspect of the school's development since day one.
Mrs. Macera has a degree in Business from the Community College of Rhode Island. Although originally born in Somerset, Massachusetts she has been a true Cranstonian for 29 years. Both Gail and her husband Joseph Macera take part in many of Cranston's community events. They are members of the Oaklawn Grange, a group that raises thousands of dollars for less fortunate Rhode Islanders. In her rare spare time, Mrs. Macera is a quilt artist having studied under several master craftsmen and she is now considered a master quilter herself. The Maceras are also proud parents of Caylen Macera and Nicholas Macera, both accomplished graduates of Cranston Public Schools.