Board of Regent Members
Members & Bios
JoAnn Ryan was appointed to the Board of Regents for Higher Education in 2018 and serves on the Board’s Finance & Infrastructure and Audit Committees. Ms. Ryan is President & CEO of the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, a position she has held since 2002, and is first woman to hold that title since the Chamber’s inception in 1901. She holds a BA Degree in History from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT and an MA Degree in Education from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. She brings to the table extensive experience acquired in the educational, business, cultural, retail and political arenas.
Her previous career has included Regional Manager of Kelly Services, Inc. throughout Connecticut including a six month Pricing Task Force in Troy, Michigan with the CEO of Kelly Services; adjunct faculty at the Naugatuck Valley Community College and Northwestern Connecticut Community College; co-owner of a clothing store; real estate agent; librarian; high school history and English teacher as well as a City Councilwoman for Torrington.
Since leading the Chamber, JoAnn, along with a dedicated staff and Board of Directors, initiated numerous programs including the WOW Forum, Young Entrepreneur Academy, the Manufacturer’s Coalition, Health Care Council, School to Career Pathways, the Chamber’s Satellite Office in KidsPlay Children’s Museum, the Chamber’s Travel Program to Asia, Europe and Cuba, Leadership NW, Jr. Leadership NW and the Young Professional’s Forum. In addition, the Chamber is host to the US Department of Commerce, SCORE and the Small Business Development Center. She co-founded the NW CT Arts Council, founded the NW CT Economic Development Corporation and the Chamber’s Education Foundation. She writes business columns for three regional newspapers and is a frequent speaker at business and community events.
JoAnn is the recipient of numerous awards such as the Northwestern Connecticut Community College Board of Trustees Merit Award, Wisdom Award from Wisdom House, Woman of the Year from the United Way, Woman of the Year from the Litchfield County Business & Professional Women, the Chamber’s Business Person of the Year and the Rotary Club’s Paul Harris Award.
She serves on many Boards and steering committees that touch health and human services, education, recreation, philanthropy, historic preservation, the arts and business. In December of 2017, Governor Malloy appointed Ms. Ryan as Chair of the Governor’s Commission on Employment &Training. Other distinguished appointments include serving as Chair of the CT Leadership Cabinet for the Chamber Insurance Trust, Past President of the Connecticut Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, the Executive Committee of the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, Chair of the United Way of Northwestern Connecticut, Advisory Board of Litchfield Bancorp, former Advisory Board for CT Mutual Holding Company, President of the NW CT Economic Development Corporation, Trustee for the NW CT Y and Advisory for Charlotte Hungerford Hospital and Torrington Historical Society. JoAnn is a Founding Board member of KidsPlay Children’s Museum. She serves on the Advisory Committee of Oliver Wolcott Technical High School and the Nursing Advisory Committee of Northwestern Connecticut Community College. Her previous Board service included the Warner Theatre, the NW CT Arts Council, Nutmeg Conservatory, the Community Foundation of Northwest Connecticut, State of CT Public Policy Committee for the Y, LARC and the Girl Scouts.
JoAnn is the mother of two daughters who reside in Charlottesville, VA and Litchfield, CT with their husbands and her three precious grandchildren. She enjoys reading, traveling, volunteering and spending time with her family and friends.
Richard J. Balducci
His tenure included leadership in achieving landmark legislation in various fields, including prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace, A Women’s Right to Choose, Sexual Preference Rights, Objective Job Evaluations for State and Local Employees and raising the state’s legal drinking age.
An alumnus of Central Connecticut State University, Balducci taught history for 17 years in the Newington school system, and served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Connecticut State University System between 1995 and 2011, most recently as the Board’s Vice Chair. He has also served as co-chairman of “Drugs Don’t Work” and as a corporator of St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center.
Ira Bloom, J.D. is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at Lehman College, a CUNY School. His areas of expertise are American Politics and Constitutional Law. His research interest, publications, and teaching focus on the areas of internet law, information privacy, United States public education, higher education policy and constitutional law.
In 2020, Professor Bloom was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Lehman College Foundation where he now serves on the Executive Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Governance Committee of the Foundation’s Board.
Professor Bloom has served on several major committees at Lehman including chair of the Lehman College Strategic Planning Council, chair of the Executive Committee charged with preparation of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditation report, and a faculty representative for the most recent Lehman College Presidential Search.
He was a member of the Board of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Greenwich, CT and chaired the Committee on Beaches and Marine Facilities, as well as the Master Plan and Long-Range Planning Committees.
In 2002, Professor Bloom was presented with the Outstanding Public Service Award by the Connecticut Secretary of State.
Bloom holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from City College of New York and his J.D. from Harvard University.
Felice Gray-Kemp was appointed to serve on the Board in August 2017 and serves as a member of the Board’s Finance & Infrastructure Committee. Felice was appointed to serve on the Board of Regents for Higher Education by Governor Malloy in August 2017.
Felice is Senior Vice President, Global General Counsel of a technology company. She has been recognized internationally for her legal and business acumen, leadership skills as well as for mentoring individuals from all walks of life. In 2015, Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund honored Felice for making a difference in the lives of Connecticut residents. Felice has served on various non-profit and for-profit Boards of Directors including as Trustee for Life on the Aurora Foundation for Women and Girls in Greater Hartford, a non-profit that she co-founded 20 years ago with several accomplished women leaders and the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.
Her lifelong commitment to learning is evident in her service as a teaching assistant while she was a student at UConn law. After she graduated, Felice has served as an adjunct professor in several Connecticut colleges that focus on the education of adult learners.
Felice fell in love with Connecticut when she visited it as a child several Summers. Her Connecticut roots took hold during her undergraduate studies at Yale University in New Haven. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law where she served for several years as a member and officer of the Law School Alumni Association as well as a student teacher. While working full-time, Felice received her Masters in Taxation degree from Boston University School of Law.
Holly received her Bachelor’s degree with a concentration in Organizational Leadership in December of 2017, from Charter Oak State College. She is continuing her education at Charter Oak seeking a Master’s degree in Organizational Effectiveness and Leadership.
Professionally, Holly is an Associate Director for a media conglomerate located in Connecticut. Holly has lived and worked in Connecticut for fourteen years and owns a home in Bristol. She has often commented that due to her firsthand experience, she appreciates the challenges experienced by so many of the CSCU students who pursue their higher educational goals while working full time.
Juanita T. James
Ms. James is a Director for Asbury Automotive Group and chairs the Governance & Nominating Committee; a Director for First County Bank; former Director of Connecticut Council for Philanthropy and the Rouse Company. Juanita was named a Savoy Magazine “Power 300 - Most Influential Black Corporate Directors” in 2015 and 2021, and a “2018 Most Influential Corporate Director” from Women Inc.
Presently, Ms. James is Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees at Lesley University, a Trustee Emerita of Princeton University and a former Trustee of UCONN. Some of the honors bestowed upon her include: League of Women Voters “Outstanding Woman in Philanthropy Award”; Connecticut Center of Philanthropy “Martha Newman Award”; American Cancer Society “Women Leading the Way to Wellness”; Girl Scouts of CT “Woman of Merit”; Moffly Media “Light a Fire”; NAACP “100 Most Influential Blacks in CT” and “Stamford Citizen of the Year”.
Ms. James earned a master’s degree in Business Policy from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. She also holds Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Mitchell College and Fairfield University, and an Honorary Associate Degree in Humane Letters from Housatonic Community College.
Sophia's innovative approach and dedication to excellence have earned her recognition from peers and industry organizations, including the Technical Achievement Award from Women in Cable and Telecommunications in 2018. In addition to her work in broadcast engineering, Sophia is an accomplished personal development coach and Organizational Systems Strategist. She uses her expertise to help individuals live authentically and align their actions with their values. Sophia expresses her creative side by designing planners that inspire personal growth and success in others.
Dr. Jim McCarthy
Previously, he served as Professor of Health Policy and Management and Dean of Health and Human Services at the University of New Hampshire (2001-2007); as the Heilbrunn Professor of Public Health and Director of the Heilbrunn Center for Population at Family Health at Columbia University (1988-2001); as Assistant and Associate Professor of Population Dynamics and Director of the Hopkins Population Center at The Johns Hopkins University (1979-1988); and Research Associate at the Office of Population Research at Princeton University (1977-1979). Early in his career, before starting studying for his Ph.D., McCarthy served for one year (1973-1974) as an Instructor in Sociology at Sacred Heart University in Bridgeport.
Throughout his career, McCarthy has also served on a number of Boards, including with the Manchester (NH) Community Health Center; The Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York; the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Bottom Line Massachusetts; and as Vice-Chair of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts.
McCarthy earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross; a master’s degree from Indiana University; and Ph.D. from Princeton. He was born and raised in Waterbury and, for the past 15 years, has lived in Clinton.
Richard J. Porth
Richard Porth has served in government (local, state and regional council of governments) and for nonprofits and private funders in a range of jobs aimed at strengthening communities and enabling better access to opportunities and supports. Most recently, he has worked on initiatives to promote racial equity and property tax reform at the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. Prior to this he served as President/CEO of United Way of Connecticut (2008 to 2020), which helps to meet the needs of Connecticut residents by providing information, education, and connection to health and human services and crisis intervention services.
Richard Porth also served as Vice President for Grantmaking for the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving (2003-2008), the community foundation for the Greater Hartford region. And, before joining the Foundation, Rick served as the Executive Director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments for nine years. In his work he collaborated with business, civic, and government leaders to advocate regional solutions to regional challenges, and in particular better access to opportunity for people living in lower income neighborhoods.
Rick started his career in City government in Trenton, New Jersey, ultimately serving as the City’s chief administrative officer. He then served two appointments in New Jersey state government. Rick and his family live in West Hartford.
Ari Santiago is the CEO of CompassMSP, a technology services firm that helps businesses harness the power of technology to achieve their business goals. Ari is also the host of the podcast Made in America with Ari Santiago, which focuses on promoting the manufacturing industry, sharing best practices of industry leaders, and spreading positive news from policymakers affecting the manufacturing industry. Ari speaks both locally and nationally about technology, manufacturing, and business strategy. He is also a relentless advocate for positive engagement in the communities he serves.
Mayor Erin Stewart was appointed to the CT Board of Regents in 2022 and serves on the Finance & Infrastructure Committee.
Mayor Stewart is the 40th Mayor of New Britain, Connecticut. She was first elected at the age of 26 and is the longest-serving female Mayor in the City’s history.
Mayor Stewart was born and raised in New Britain and is proud to continue her family’s decades-long commitment to public service. She attended New Britain public schools and went on to earn her undergraduate degree from Central Connecticut State University and her Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of New Haven, where she specialized in public financial management and earned her way into Pi Alpha Alpha, the National Honor Society for Public Administration.
Mayor Stewart began her career in public service by serving on the Board of Education in New Britain. She has been a staunch advocate for education throughout her entire time as Mayor, creating the City’s Education Savings Fund and relentlessly advocating for the necessary changes within the Consolidated School District of New Britain that would ensure all students receive the high quality public education they deserve.
Mayor Stewart is best known for her leadership and results-driven style of governing. She closed a deficit of more than $30 million and turned it into a $22 million surplus, bringing stability and responsibility back to the City’s finances. Under her leadership, New Britain is undergoing a dramatic transformation and becoming a destination where people of all walks of life want to live, work, and play.
Mayor Stewart has invested significant resources to address the issues of homelessness, addiction, and youth prevention through the New Britain Recovers Initiative. She has also strived to make government more efficient through her SMART City initiative, focusing on reducing the cost of government, harnessing new technologies to reduce the City’s carbon footprint, and making more efficient use of existing resources.
Mayor Stewart sets out to inspire other individuals—especially City youth and young women—to develop the confidence and leadership qualities they need to grow and give back to their community. She is a frequent visitor to area schools where she is proud to instill a lifelong pursuit of learning and community service.
Mayor Stewart was named to the Hartford Business Journal’s Power 50 list in 2022, and Connecticut Magazine named her one of their “40 Under 40”. The Greater New Britain Arts Alliance has also awarded Mayor Stewart “Public Servant of the Year”, and she has been the subject of in-depth profiles by national media outlets like the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Time Magazine, and Newsmax. Hartford Magazine readers also named Mayor Stewart Best Politician in Connecticut in 2020, 2021, and 2022, as well as Best Community Leader in Connecticut in 2021 and 2022.
Mayor Stewart enjoys spending time with her husband Domenic and her 2 year old daughter Lina.
Elease E. Wright
Ms. Wright serves on the boards of National Guardian Life Insurance Company and chairs its Governance Committee; the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education and Chairs its Audit Committee; the National Academy of Human Resources where she services as Vice Chair; Hartford Hospital; and the Hartford Stage.
Ms. Wright lives in Hartford, CT with her husband, Dana.
Ex-Officio Members & Bios
Daum previously served as Deputy Commissioner and Chief Investment Officer of DECD. In this role, she drove public investment in local economic development projects and initiatives across Connecticut, including greenfield and brownfield real estate developments, public-private partnerships, urban revitalization efforts and opportunity zones. She also managed Governor Lamont’s community redevelopment initiatives, most notably the Connecticut Communities Challenge Grants, Brownfield Municipal Grants, and the Community Investment Fund 2030.
Prior to joining DECD, Daum was the founder and principal of Field Properties, a real estate investor in New Haven. She began her real estate development career at Trammell Crow Residential in its Northern California division. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
David Blitz is Professor of Philosophy at Central Connecticut State University and Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee to the Board of Regents. He has been a faculty member at CCSU for over 30 years during which time he has served as Chair of the Philosophy Department, Director of the CCSU Honors Program and co-coordinator of the Peace Studies Program. He has also served as Chair of the University Planning and Budget Committee, and has participated in Connecticut State University system-wide committees on course management software and on-line learning. He holds the PhD from McGill University with a specialization in the history and philosophy of science. His research focuses on the emergence of novel properties in the course of evolution from the physical to the mental, and problems of war and peace, especially in the work of the English philosopher and public intellectual Bertrand Russell. Prof. Blitz is President of the boards of the Bertrand Russell Society, an international scholarly organization, and the Winsted Phoenix newspaper, a community publication covering towns and cities in the northwest region of the state.
Danté Bartolomeo joined the Connecticut Department of Labor in January 2019 as a deputy commissioner and was appointed the interim commissioner in June 2021 by Governor Ned Lamont. Her nomination was confirmed by the Connecticut State Senate in March 2022.
Since joining the Department of Labor, Commissioner Bartolomeo has been integrally involved in programs and services throughout the agency. As the deputy commissioner, Bartolomeo worked to expand the agency’s approach to workforce policy to incorporate the Whole Family Approach, a progression of the Two Generations (2Gen) employment initiatives. When the global pandemic hit, Bartolomeo switched gears to oversee multiple pandemic programs that were vital to Connecticut residents who lost their jobs — including establishing the agency’s new Consumer Contact Center and transitioning the American Job Centers to providing virtual services to customers.
Under Bartolomeo’s leadership, the Department has continued pandemic recovery work with an added focus on labor force development in high-demand industries such as healthcare. The CT DOL Registered Apprenticeship program will bring 1,250 patient care technicians into the healthcare field over the next four years. These apprentices join thousands already in Registered Apprenticeships across 60 occupations. CT DOL also continues to coordinate other job matching events like the Veterans and Diversity Hiring Expo held in partnership with Connecticut’s soccer team, Hartford Athletic.
Prior to her service at the CT Department of Labor, Bartolomeo served two terms as the state senator for the 13th senatorial district representing Cheshire, Meriden, Middlefield, Middletown, and Rockfall. Her portfolio included children’s safety, access to healthcare, and education—primary school through career training. She also served on the Meriden City Council.
Bartolomeo, 53, is a proud lifelong resident of the state. Raised in Wallingford, she attended Colby College before settling in Meriden with her husband, Doug, and sons, Cameron and Riley, and their dog, Diego.
Manisha Juthani, MD
Manisha Juthani, MD, is the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Commissioner Juthani comes to DPH from the Yale School of Medicine where she has served as an associate professor of medicine, and director of the Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program. Additionally, she has served as the associate program director for career development in the Internal Medicine Residency Program there since 2017.
Commissioner Juthani attended Edgemont High School in Scarsdale, NY, and received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994 and her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in 1998. She completed her internal medicine residency training at New-York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell where she served as an assistant chief resident. She also was a chief medical resident at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center from 2001-2002.
Commissioner Juthani came to the Yale School of Medicine as a post-doctoral fellow in infectious diseases in 2002. Her research has focused on the diagnosis, management, and prevention of infections in older adults, specifically urinary tract infection and pneumonia in nursing home residents. She has more than 50 peer-reviewed publications in this field.
Additionally, Commissioner Juthani was the principal investigator of an R01-funded research project that resulted in the 2016 JAMA publication entitled, “Effect of Cranberry Capsules on Bacteriuria Plus Pyuria Among Older Women in Nursing Homes: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” This publication received widespread attention in numerous news media outlets including the New York Times and CNN. She also achieved an Almetric Attention Score that placed it in the top 5 percent of all research outputs scored by Altmetric in 2016.
In December 2016, the New Yorker identified this research as one of the most notable medical findings of 2016, and Commissioner Juthani was interviewed and featured in a GeriPal podcast. Additionally, in her parallel work with pneumonia prevention, she was the first author on the 2015 Clinical Infectious Diseases publication entitled, “A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial of a Multicomponent Intervention Protocol for Pneumonia Prevention Among Nursing Home Elders.” Her investigative expertise has made her a sought-after editorialist in high impact journals such as JAMA, JAMA Internal Medicine, and the British Medical Journal.
In addition to her academic responsibilities, Commissioner Juthani enjoys writing about and discussing medical topics in the news media. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been featured on CNN, WTNH News 8, ABC's 20/20, Connecticut Public Radio/NPR, BBC's News Hour, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, and the Washington Post to name a few. Her current research interests are focused on merging best practices with ID and palliative medicine, specifically providing optimal infectious diseases consultation to nursing home residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms. Russell-Tucker has served on various state and national committees, including the Connecticut General Assembly’s Committee on Children Strategic Action Group on Chronic Absence, as President of the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an expert panel member on committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Ms. Russell-Tucker previously served as an adjunct faculty member at Albertus Magnus College School of New Dimensions.
In 2015, Ms. Russell-Tucker was named to the inaugural class of 100 Women of Color in Connecticut. In 2018, she was welcomed to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading's Council of Champions, and most recently, a 2021 recipient of MENTOR National’s Public Service – State & Local Excellence in Mentoring Award. On a personal note, Ms. Russell-Tucker believes in finding and fulfilling one’s life’s purpose.
Kelli-Marie Vallieres, PhD
Kelli-Marie Vallieres, PhD is Vice Chair of the Governor’s Workforce Council and the Chief Workforce Officer of the newly established Office of Workforce Strategy. She is an owner of two manufacturing companies, Sound Manufacturing, Inc. and Monster Power Equipment, where she served as President and CEO for 14 years before stepping down to take on her new role with the State of Connecticut.
Dr. Vallieres earned her degree in Educational Leadership and Adult Learning from the University of Connecticut in 2007. Kelli is also the President Emeritus for the Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance and continues to serve on the Board of Directors for Eastern Workforce Investment Board. She also serves on the CT Department of Labor Apprenticeship Council, Department of Economic and Community Development Manufacturing Innovation Fund Advisory Committee and is an emeritus board member of Connecticut Business and Industry Association. Kelli served as a member of the Statewide Advanced Manufacturing Advisory Committee for the State College and University System and worked with Three Rivers Community College to develop their Precision Sheet Metal program and the Early College Opportunity Programs.
Kelli is able to combine her roles in industry and education to develop learning curricula and establish educational pathway programs from secondary through post-secondary educational systems. This includes industry training and development that supports educators in the development and implementation of pedagogy to improve problem solving, critical thinking, and essential employability skills, to benefit students and the workforce pipeline.
Comments & Questions
Questions regarding the Connecticut Board of Regents should be addressed to Pam Heleen, Office of Board Affairs, at 860-723-0013 or email@example.com.