RIC’s Unity Center Director is a Proud Latina with Experience in Restorative Justice

Headshot of Lehidy Frias
Rhode Island College Impact

Among the students the Unity Center serves are BIPOC, LGBTQ+, first-generation and students seeking interfaith services.

Lehidy Frias, the newly appointed director of the Unity Center at Rhode Island College, was born in Providence but feels as LatinX as their parents who moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic.

Frias earned a B.A. in anthropology and public health at Brown University and an M.A. in restorative justice from Vermont Law School. Frias is on the Providence Juvenile Hearing Board doing diversion work for the legal system and implements trainings and consultations in restorative practices and restorative justice at K-12 schools, nonprofits and universities for staff, parents and students.

Frias is a former program coordinator of Brown University’s Center for Students of Color and will be doing similar work at Rhode Island College’s Unity Center, which provides event programming for BIPOC students, LGBTQ+ students, students that experience gender disparities, students with compromised citizenship status, first-generation students and students seeking interfaith services.

The new director also comes with a unique vision for the Unity Center students in the hope of assisting them in their professional development by connecting them with leaders and organizations in their communities.

“Data shows that 87 percent of RIC students are commuters,” Frias says. “That means their college experience isn’t only on campus but in every corner of Rhode Island. My vision is to expand the center’s collaboration with the communities in which our students live and work to support their professional development.”

For instance, Frias guided a group of students celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. She suggested they invite Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, a RIC alumnus, to come to Rhode Island College and Marta Martinez, a community program administrator, activist and Rhode Island historian, to give a presentation at the same event.

Another major goal Frias has is to lead restorative justice trainings to support RIC students.

“Students can come to the Unity Center to learn how to facilitate tough conversations, how to ask open-ended questions and how to use I-statements when having difficult conversations,” she says.

Frias has also provided restorative justice training to off-campus groups. Recently, youth from Rhode Island for Community and Justice were invited to the Unity Center to learn how restorative practices can be used in various careers. 

“I’m really excited to bring restorative practices to a higher education institution,” she says. “We want to teach students how to support and understand differences. There are students who may not be as knowledgeable about diversity, equity and inclusion. We want all of our students to feel comfortable at RIC.”

The Unity Center is located on the ground floor of the Donovan Dining Center and is open from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday.