As president and CEO of The Rhode Island Foundation, Neil D. Steinberg has guided the foundation into being a proactive community and philanthropic leader, dedicated to meeting the needs of the people of the state.
He is well-equipped for the position. He’s gained fiduciary experience at the former Fleet Bank and fundraising at Brown University, and has served as an active member of the community. The foundation will host “Make It Happen RI” Sept. 7-8. The event is designed to generate ideas for stimulating economic activity in the state.
PBN: Make It Happen RI is your new effort to try to help out Rhode Islanders and the economy. What are its concepts?
STEINBERG: We’ve done something similar in the past, innovation fellowships, which seemed very popular. We solicited ideas from the general community on who had the best ideas. It’s about convening ideas and people.
PBN: The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce brought many community members together earlier this summer, including the foundation, to help the private sector play a role in growing business. What role can a charitable foundation play?
STEINBERG: At that gathering there was a lot of intent and interest. Out of that – along with other people that approached us, we see the need to go from rhetoric to action. Panels, forums, reports and essays have been done for years, but we haven’t seen it move from talk to action. That’s the motivation; get a diverse group, get the private sector to step up and not just talk about what to do but how to do it.
PBN: Why would they look to the foundation for help?
STEINBERG: We are conveners and have a history of bringing together disparate groups. We have the ability to be honest brokers. We are not the business community, we are not the nonprofit community solely, we’re not religious or political.