Sarath Suong, Co-Chair
Sarath Suong is a co-founder and Executive Director of Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM), a community based organization whose mission is to mobilize queer Southeast Asian (SEA) youth, families, and allies to build grassroots power and organize collectively for social justice. Born in the Thai Refugee camp Khao I Dang, his family fled Cambodia during the civil war and eventually immigrated to his hometown of Revere, Massachusetts. To cope with the violence, pain, and injustices facing Southeast Asians, he became a community organizer, centered around the unique intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Sarath moved to Providence, Rhode Island in 1998 to attend Brown University. He majored in Ethnic Studies with a specific focus on Southeast Asian immigration, resettlement, and resistance. Sarath loves his family, friends, young people, and is the biggest X-Men fanatic you’d ever meet.
Todd Flaherty, Ed.D, Co-Chair
Todd D. Flaherty is a career educator spanning 45 years as he has served as a teacher, coach, principal, district administrator and state education leader as Deputy Commissioner of Education for twelve years. He also served as President and CEO of The College Crusade of Rhode Island, RI's largest and most comprehensive college readiness and success program from 2009-2016.He has a long history of being a passionate advocate of public education, equal access and equity for ALL KIDS. As a believer in team work and the strength of collective action, Todd and his organizations have received numerous recognition and awards. He also has served as President of the Rhode Island Superintendent's Association, Senior Policy Advisor to the national College and Career Readiness and Success Center and Deputy in Residence to the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington D.C. He holds a B.A from Syracuse University, an M.S. from Alfred University, and an Ed.D. from Boston University in Policy, Planning and Administration. In 2012 Dr. Flaherty was recognized by the Syracuse University Varsity Club, as a Letter Winner of Distinction for his public and community service.
Ducha Hang, Ph.D., Secretary
Ducha Hang is Hmong-American and a native of Providence, Rhode Island. Both of her grandfathers were soldiers recruited by the US to fight in the Secret War. As a result of the war, her family came to the United States in the 1970s as Hmong refugees. Understanding the history of her family's journey to the United States has been the catalyst for her interest in supporting the advocacy and advancement of the Hmong community. Ducha’s passion has also been with education and education reform. Dr. Hang received her Master’s Degree in Education and School Counseling from Providence College. After receiving her graduate degree, she pursued a role in first year experience, an initiative in higher education that supports the success, transition, and resilience of first year students in college. Ducha has served approximately 13 years as a higher education administrator, and her roles have encompassed areas in the first year experience, academic advising, program development, assessment, student success, student engagement, and leadership. In May of 2015, she received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. Her dissertation is a phenomenological study of the experiences of Hmong students in college and details how Hmong students make sense of their experiences in college. She currently serves as the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and the Director of the Center for Student Development at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. Ducha loves spending time with her family, trying new restaurants, and creating art.
Angelica Mey, Treasurer
Angelica Mey came to America as a refugee at the age of 1 with her adoptive mother. Growing up, she experienced firsthand the struggles of a single parent household with a language barrier in an unknown country. She watched her mother persevered through all the challenges that came her way. This strong woman who survived the genocide, had raised Angelica on 2 core values which she lives by to this day, Education and Respect. With a background in accounting and finance, she has extensive experience in corporate taxation (IRS certified) and financial analysis for multi-million dollar companies which includes forecasting, budgeting, month end as well as year-end financial preparation and reporting. She has served as Treasurer, Finance Chair, as well as Asst. Treasurer on other non-profit boards for over 5 years. In the future, she hopes to adopt a child from Cambodia and sponsor an orphanage to pay forth the opportunities and advancements that she was given.
John M. Murphy, Sr., Officer
John M. Murphy, Sr. is the Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Beara Capital, LLC, a specialty finance company and non-bank lender that focuses on specialized lending products offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) and also engages in a variety of other complex commercial real estate lending transactions.
Mr. Murphy began his career in banking and finance in 1961. After serving a two-year stint with the U.S. Army stationed in Korea, Mr. Murphy went to work in the consumer finance industry. In the early 1970s, armed with his knowledge of finance and real estate, he successfully incorporated Home Loan Investment Association and Northern National Life Insurance Company, becoming the President and Chief Executive Officer of both operations simultaneously. Since Mr. Murphy established the bank, it has originated over $5 Billion in mortgages, helping over 65,000 consumers and small business owners receive financing. In recognition of his impressive success, Inc. Magazine named Mr. Murphy the finance industry “Entrepreneur of the Year.” Mr. Murphy was also awarded the Providence Community Action Business Award.
Always connected to public life, Mr. Murphy served on the Providence City Council from 1967-1975, and was an active member of the Democratic State Committee for many years. Mr. Murphy has served on numerous corporate boards, business councils and charitable organizations, including the following: Chairman of the Major Gifts Committee of the surgical unit at Fatima Hospital; Board Member and Charter Member of RISE (Rhode Islanders Sponsoring Education), an organization that provides educational advocacy and private-school financial support for children from lower-socioeconomic, high-risk families; and Board Member and Board Chairman of the Reverend E. Naomi Craig Scholarship Fund for low-income Providence youth. Mr. Murphy is a former member of the President’s Council at Providence College. Mr. Murphy is also a former member of the advisory board for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN. In 2003, Mr. Murphy supported an effort in Ireland to create a telecommunications network to grant rural hospitals access to St. Jude's research libraries and databases in order to properly diagnose patients. This “telemedicine” initiative brought together politicians from the divided Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for this noble cause.
Mr. Murphy has provided significant financial and emotional support for several inner-city students to attend San Miguel School. Murphy was awarded The Miguel Medal in appreciation for his outstanding service to the students of The San Miguel School. In addition, Mr. Murphy is a major benefactor to the University of Rhode Island Foundation, and established the John Murphy MTI Fund to promote URI’s Mentor Tutor Internship Program, a program that provides opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend URI. In 2005, Mr. Murphy was presented with an Honorary Doctors Degree of Humane Letters from the University of Rhode Island. Mr. Murphy received an award from the McCauley House for his long-time support of the McCauley House and McCauley Village from 1975-2006. Mr. Murphy is also an active member of the New York Athletic Club. As one of the initial contributors to the Cleary School in Haiti and benefactor for over 20 years, Mr. Murphy was the main contributor for the Diocese of Haiti to rebuild the seminary that was destroyed in the earthquake in 2010. Mr. Murphy is also a contributor to UCAP, which is a second chance school for students who are at serious risk of dropping out. Mr. Murphy provides financial support to Sophia Academy, which is the only middle school in Providence focused specifically on girls who face economic inequities.
As a Providence Boys Club alumni, Mr. Murphy has been a major supporter of the Providence Boys & Girls Clubs for many years and, in 2007, he was inducted into the Boys & Girls Club Hall of Fame. Also, in honor of his late brother who served over 30 years as a Providence police officer, Mr. Murphy founded The Major Jeremiah P. Murphy Scholarship Foundation, which provides financial support to college-bound children of Providence police officers. Mr. Murphy also founded the Dr. Kenneth Walker Scholarship Foundation, which offers academic scholarships for minorities from Providence, RI who attend Providence College. In addition, Mr. Murphy currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Fogarty Foundation. For his charitable efforts at The Rhode Island Foundation, in 2009, Mr. Murphy received The Rhode Island Foundation’s Inspiring Partner Award. In 2009, Mr. Murphy established the John and Grace Murphy Fund for Youth to assist Rhode Island’s underserved youth so they can experience and participate in cultural, educational and recreational events.
Annie Ratanasim, MPA, Officer
Annie is a Laotian-American born in California and has resided in Rhode Island since 1998. She is a first generation college graduate and U.S citizen while her parents were refugees that escaped to the U.S from the war in Laos. Annie is passionate about the environment, humanitarian and social justice efforts. She received her Bachelor degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Business Administration. In 2016 she received her Master in Public Administration with a concentration on Environmental Sustainability degree. Annie currently serves as a Program Manager of the Renewable Energy Fund under the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation where she could use her energy and efforts into aiding in progressing the environmental initiatives within the state. Part of her goals in life is to have a helping hand in making a positive difference in education, the youth, society and the environment. She believes any effort big or small counts. Annie is a foodie at heart, enjoys spending time with family and friends, and traveling the world as much as her vacation time allows!