Political Legacies Inspiring the Next Generation of RIC Graduates


From top left: Sabina Matos, Susan McKee, Karen Alzate, Jessica Vega, Hillary Lima and Lammis Vargas. From bottom left: Suzy Alba, Leonela Feliz, John Lombardi, Maryellen Goodwin, Jim Langevin and Brandon Potter.

Rhode Island College graduates have always served in lead­ership positions throughout the state, but over the past few years there has been a significant increase in politicians in the alumni network.

Perhaps most prominently, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos ’01 ascended to her position after serving since 2019 as president of the Providence City Council and representing City Council Ward 15 since 2010.

Matos was selected to be the new lieutenant governor by Gov. Dan McKee, who himself was elevated to his current position when Gov. Gina Raimondo joined President Biden’s cabinet. That also meant that a three-time RIC alumna would become the First Lady of Rhode Island, Susan McKee ’73, M.Ed. ’77, ’89.

RIC alumni are also making strides in the General Assembly. Last March Rep. Karen Alzate ’13 (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket) became the new chair of the Legislative Black and Latino Caucus.

Meanwhile in Central Falls, Jessica Vega ’10 replaced Mayor Maria Rivera as president of the Central Falls City Council. Hillary Lima ’14 is councilwoman for the town of Coventry.

Some alumni are even playing dual roles. Lammis Vargas, who serves on the Cranston City Council representing Ward 1, was recently appointed by Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea to serve as her deputy secretary of state/ director of administration. Prior to that, Vargas was deputy treasurer in General Treasurer Seth Magaziner’s office.

The list of RIC alumni elected to important offices in state and local government is impressive and growing: Smithfield Town Council President Suzy Alba ’05; Rep. Leonela Felix ’13 (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket); Rep. John Lombardi ’75, M.Ed. ’82 (D-Dist. 8, Providence); Sen. Maryellen Goodwin ’88 (D-Dist. 1, Providence), who was elected while still a student at RIC; and U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (RI-2) ’90.

Current students like Rep. Brandon Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston) show that you don’t have to wait for alumni status to begin making your mark.

Every day these leaders are proving the value of a Rhode Island College education, not just for themselves, but for the state.