Updated March 26 at 12:27am

Philanthropy a natural for Handy

Corporate Citizenship Edward O."Ned" Handy IIIpresident and chief operating officerThe Washington Trust Co.

By Jacquelyn Gutc | Contributing Writer
Edward O. "Ned" Handy III has big goals. "To end homelessness. To end hunger. I would like to help the improvement of education," he said. To say that he is involved in a lot of things with those aims in mind is an understatement. …

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Philanthropy a natural for Handy

Corporate Citizenship Edward O."Ned" Handy IIIpresident and chief operating officerThe Washington Trust Co.

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Edward O. "Ned" Handy III has big goals.

"To end homelessness. To end hunger. I would like to help the improvement of education," he said.

To say that he is involved in a lot of things with those aims in mind is an understatement.

In addition to being president and chief operating officer of The Washington Trust Co., he's on nearly a dozen nonprofit boards and advisory councils – including those connected with the Rhode Island Hospital Foundation, Providence Foundation, Crossroads Rhode Island, Amos House, Providence College and Salve Regina University – and was just elected to the board of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. But for Handy, holding board positions isn't about recognition and expanding his resume.

In the words of Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation and long-time friend, Handy "is a doer."

Steinberg said that Handy stands out as a member of the Rhode Island Foundation's board of directors because of his extensive knowledge of the state and his drive to see concepts through until they are a reality.

"Ned's not somebody who just shows up at board meetings," Steinberg said. "He's a civic leader. He's involved in the business community through the bank; he's involved in the nonprofit community; he lives in the community and grew up in the community, and his passion for the community shows."

Handy is most proud of the capital campaign he chaired for the $5 million Amos House community center that opened this year on the campus of the social service agency.

"Seeing the [four-story, 29,000-square-foot] building occupied and now completed and serving their constituents so beautifully, I'm proud of that. That stands out," Handy said.

Handy has most consistently been a part of the San Miguel School, a private middle school for at-risk boys in the Providence area. Handy was on the school's first board more than 20 years ago, and he and his wife – Polly Chatterton Handy, the current board chair – have mentored and sponsored students for many years.

"I'm very proud of what San Miguel has turned out to be and how many young men, at 50 a year, have gone through that school and their lives have been turned around because of it," Handy said.

Those who look at Handy's nonprofit involvement are likely to notice a pattern.

"For me, it's a good mix of things that are helping out with safety-net issues but also with things that are aimed at keeping people out of the safety net," Handy said. He is committed to helping ensure that everyone has equal access to opportunity.

Handy's passion for making a difference was instilled in him through his parents and their philanthropic efforts, and has grown throughout his career.

"I don't remember a part of my career when I wasn't working for a company that had a bent toward civic involvement," said Handy, whose career includes 18 years with Citizens Bank after starting his career as a 22-year-old with Fleet Financial Group.

That holds true at Washington Trust too, which Handy joined in 2013. The bank says more than 60 percent of its 600 employees volunteered in 2014. Handy hopes to help that number grow through leading by example.

"I hope that both by leading by example and by espousing a corporate culture that kind of assumes involvement in some way, shape, or form, that people will start early and be involved however they can," he said. "It's not a financial thing. It's time and energy and talent." •

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