Cranston Hall of Fame to honor latest inductees


The Cranston Hall of Fame is growing in size and diversity, with five new members set to be inducted in November.

The Hall of Fame was established in 1980, making this year its 37th induction. With almost 200 inductees as of this year’s class of five people, President of the foundation Fred Vincent points out the continued diversity of the class of 2017.

“Just like this class, there’s a wide diversity of our inductees,” he said. “We have people in all professions, from legal to medicine to education to business, the arts and even entertainment.”

The foundation, which is led by 11 volunteer board members, solicits applications each year. The requirements of getting inducted include being out of Cranston Public Schools for at least ten years and providing “a demonstration of accomplishment in your chosen field, which can be on the local, state, regional, or national levels.”

A screening committee looks at all applications, then puts through up to 10 of them to a second committee that narrows the group to five or less.

“We have some very accomplished inductees this year, from education to business to medicine to legal,” Vincent said. “Each of these bios show that they’re not only distinguished in their professions, but often times they’ve done other things, like community service.”

The induction dinner will be held at the Valley Country Club in Warwick on Friday, Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. Tickets can be ordered in advance for $40 by calling 942-9308.

The biographies for this year’s inductees to the Cranston Hall of Fame are found below.

Robin Melfi Coia

A 1980 graduate of Cranston High School East, Robin Melfi Coia has distinguished herself as an outstanding and highly efficient administrator/leader in both the public and private sectors. As a member of Rhode Island Honor society in high school, Robin entered Rhode Island College where she graduated in 1984 with a double-major in Political Science and Communication (Cum Laude).

In 1985 to 1999, Robin was appointed as an Executive Aide to the City of Cranston Mayor's Office where she served as the Mayor's Spokesperson and Representative for the City at local, state, and national events. Robin also managed the Mayor's Departmental Budget along with the supervision of the Executive Office staff. From 1999 to 2000, Robin served as the Scheduling Officer to the Governor of Rhode Island. In this capacity, Robin organized and scheduled meetings, press conferences and highlighted special events for the Governor. She was also responsible for communicating with and interacting on the Governor's behalf, with representatives from all levels of private industry involving state and national governmental agencies. In 2000 to 2002, Robin became a Field Communication Officer for the New England Laborer's and in 2003 she was appointed Assistant Administrator with New England Laborer's/Labor Management Corporation Trust.

Robin presently serves as the liaison to the Construction Industry, which employs approximately 22,000 Rhode Islanders. Robin is a strong advocate for workforce development programs at the state and national levels. She currently serves on the Rhode Island Workforce Investment Board where she Co-Chairs the Career Pathway Advisory Committee.

Robin is very active in community activities. She is a member of the DaVinci Center for Community Progress, the Livna Women's Caucus and serves at the Immaculate Conception Church as a CCD Teacher and Eucharistic Minister. Her professional affiliations include the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Board of Safety Awareness, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Core Commission and the Rhode Island Governor's Workforce Board.

Charles H. Lonardo, J.D.

As Senior member of this year's Induction Class of 2017, Charles H. Lonardo has distinguished himself as a Jurist and Attorney with expertise in Criminal, Traffic, Bankruptcy and Juvenile/Family Law. Graduating from Cranston High School East in 1973, Charles attended Syracuse University in New York, receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree (Cum Laude) in 1977 with a major in Broadcast Journalism. Charles entered Syracuse Law School and was awarded the Juris Doctorate Degree in 1981.

Lonardo has represented both individual and business clients in General Law Practice for more than 30 years. From time to time, he has lectured to law classes at the Missouri Southern State University. Charles has been very active in service to the law profession; being a past contributor to the Missouri Lawyer's Weekly on Family Law matters. Serving as a member of Joplin Missouri's Municipal Court Group Planning, Attorney Lonardo is an officer and member to several law professional affiliations; The Missouri Bar (Family Law and Lawyers Assistant Section), Jaspar County Bar Association (Treasurer), and the Missouri Municipal and Associate Judges Association (Board Member).

Since 1993, Leonardo has been a Soccer Referee with the United States Soccer Federation. In 1994 he became an Official Trainer and Assessor to the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association. For the past 33 years, he has served as Official and Certified Trainer for the Missouri State High School Activities Association. Since 1985, Judge Lonardo has been a member of the Kiwani's Club of Joplin, Missouri.

He has served on the Board of Directors of Legal Aid of Western Missouri (1985-1991). Since 1984, Charles has a solo practice in Joplin, Missouri.

Karen A. Santilli

Graduating in 1984 from Cranston High School East, Karen A. Santilli, has distinguished herself as a senior-level, mission-driven, strategic marketing professional during the past twenty-five years. Karen attended Rhode Island College in 1988, receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree with a major in Marketing. In 2000, she was awarded the Master of Arts Degree in Teaching from Rhode Island College.

Karen's professional career began, when she was appointed as a Research Director of Marketing, where she developed and marketed an international development program targeting toward children (Kids for Kids). From 1995 to 1999, Karen became Team Manager/Director responsible for a $1 million budget and led a team of 40 individuals. From 2002, Karen was appointed Marketing Director for Plan USA (formerly Foster Parents' Plan) in Warwick. As a member of Plan USA's Executive Team, she provided leadership and direction in their organization's operation. Karen served as Vice President for Marketing and Development from 2008 to 2013, where she established the first endowment fund for the organization. From 2014 to 2015, Karen became Chief Marketing Strategy Officer. In this capacity, she oversaw marketing and development for The Women's Center of Rhode Island. Currently, Karen serves as President and CEO for Crossroads, Rhode Island. She is responsible for leading Rhode Island's largest homeless services organization.

Karen has been very active as presenter at various professional conferences, such as the Massachusetts Association of Fundraising, Rhode Island Association of Fundraising Professionals and speaker at the American Marketing Association's 24th Annual Research Conference in Phoenix, Ariz. Recipient of several awards, Karen's most coveted award is the Rhode Island Alumni Honor Roll Award. She is married to Christopher, and they are the parents of three children, Christopher, Grace and Lauren.

Douglas H. Sherman, Jr., Ed.D.

A 1981 graduate of Cranston High School West, Douglas H. Sherman, Jr. has distinguished himself as a highly successful electrical engineer as well as an astute, creative administrator in higher education. Douglas graduated from the University of Rhode Island (URI) in 1986, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering. Douglas continued with graduate studies at URI and achieved a Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1994. After a career of 14 years as a Professional Engineer, Douglas chose the field of Higher Education as a second career. He was the recipient of a Doctorate of Education Degree from Northeastern University (Boston) with a concentration in Higher Education Administration.

From 1996 to 2000, Sherman served as Assistant Professor at The New England Institute of Technology, teaching Basic Electronic Theory Computer Applications and Technical Skills. In 2008 he was appointed as Associate Provost and Special Assistant to the President at (NEIT). Sherman was responsible for the design and development of the NEIT's new campus in East Greenwich. He was recognized for his outstanding talents and administrative skills by being promoted in 2012 to the rank of Senior Vice President and Provost of NEIT, responsible for the oversight of all academic programs and the supervision of five Assistant Provosts and Office Manager. Under Dr. Sherman's leadership, the NEIT has been transformed into a robust institution of higher learning offering Associate, Bachelors and Masters Degrees in 60 academic programs. Sherman has led NEIT through several successful Accreditation Initiatives that have established the College's reputation for high quality academic offerings.

Sherman is active as a fellow at the College and University Research Collaborative. He is also active in the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Sherman represents NEIT, which is one of Rhode Island's 11 colleges and universities, in the public/private partnership that moves research into action. Douglas is married to Judy Sherman and they are the parents of Amanda and Alison.

William J. Turtle, M.D.

Graduating from Cranston High School West in 1977, William J. Turtle, M.D. has distinguished himself as a exceptional physician with clinical skills and clinical decisions being exemplary. Bill was an outstanding student. In a class of 463 students, Bill was ranked 4th. He was chosen by his classmates and faculty as "Ideal Cranstonian" and "The Most Likely to Succeed." Bill matriculated at Brown University where in 1981 he was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree with Magna Cum Laude Honors in Biomedical Sciences. Turtle was elected Phi Beta Kappa, Signa Xi (Science Honor Society). He entered the University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry (New York) receiving a Doctor of Medicine Degree in 1985.

In 1985, Dr. Turtle returned to Rhode Island to become a Resident Physician in Pediatrics at Rhode Island Hospital (1985-88). Dr. Turtle was appointed Chief of residency in Pediatrics at Rhode Island Hospital. During his residency, he was the recipient of two prestigious awards; "The Heffenreffer Fellowship" (1988-89) and the Pediatric Teaching Award. Dr. Turtle has been in practice since 1989. He is presently a partner with Pediatric Associates, Inc. He has frequently been selected as "Top Doc" in the Rhode Island Monthly magazine. From 1998 to 2014, Dr. Turtle was selected as among the "Best Doctors in America." Bill has served as Clinical Associate in Pediatrics at Northeastern University (Boston, Massachusetts) from 2009 to 2015.

Bill is married to Jean Marie Smith and they are the parents of two children.


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