EAST PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island State Treasurer and Democratic candidate for Gina Raimondo recently served as the keynote speaker of the 2014 Chafee Leadership Forum at the Providence Country Day School.
This term, 2014, marks the school’s 15th year of the annual Chafee Leadership Forum. The Forum celebrates the life and career of John Chafee, PCD Class of 1940, a Rhode Island institution who held both the governorship and a senate seat in his lengthy career in public service.
In his memory, the PCD community engages in discussions of local and/or national importance. Forum director, PCD history teacher Steve Robinson said the Forum “provides educational programs in public policy for Rhode Island high school students.”
It is Mr. Robinson’s hope (as it was the Chafee family’s, when the Forum was launched), that the annual event will encourage civic engagement among not only PCD students, but also those from other Rhode Island schools. Toward that end PCD welcomes students from around the state to participate. This year, a class from East Providence High School also attended.
Mrs. Raimondo gave a compelling address that both stood up for the work she has done over the past few years—especially her pension overhaul, which has put her squarely in the national eye—and made a passionate plea for students to get involved in civic participation and leadership.
Mrs. Raimondo spoke about how she transitioned to her political career from the private sector. She spoke of her powerful belief—learned through a childhood in which she regularly took advantage of government services to help her get a great education—in the power of government to help people make better lives for themselves. She also shared her frustration with the way government operates, and what she perceived as a fear to make the hard, yet necessary choices that would protect Rhode Island’s future.
Mrs. Raimondo implored students to get involved. While she was clear that she would love for that involvement to be with her campaign, she added that what really mattered was simply being engaged—whatever one’s political beliefs. That was an idea that genuinely resonated with the students. Many came forward to ask questions and took the opportunity to speak with Mrs. Raimondo one-on-one at the end of her formal remarks.
If one more student becomes involved at the end of the day—takes a stand, expresses an opinion, changes a mind—then, Mr. Robinson said, “the Forum will have been a success.”