Cicilline to lead R.I. Foundation; will leave U.S. House seat June 1

The local electorate will be voting in a special election following the resignation Tuesday of U.S. Rep. David Cicilline.

The seven-term Democrat, who serves Jamestown in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District, will leave the House of Representatives effective June 1 to become chief executive of the Rhode Island Foundation. Cicilline, a former mayor of Providence, called his tenure in Congress as “the honor of my lifetime.”

“For more than a decade, the people of Rhode Island entrusted me with a sacred duty to represent them in Congress, and it is a responsibility I put my heart and soul into every day to make life better for the residents and families of our state,” he said. “The chance to lead the Rhode Island Foundation was unexpected, but it is an extraordinary opportunity to have an even more direct and meaningful impact on the lives of residents of our state.”

The Rhode Island Foundation, which was headed by Neil Steinberg for 15 years until his retirement in May 2022, is the largest provider of money to nonprofit organizations in the state. As a community foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation comprises charitable funds established by donors. The money is pooled and invested so they grow, and the income generated becomes a permanent, steady resource for grants. There are about 800 community foundations in the United States.

Dr. G. Alan Kurose, chairman of the foundation’s board of directors, said Cicilline’s “skills and values fit perfectly” with its mission.

“He is committed to meeting the needs of all Rhode Islanders and has been throughout his public-service career,” Kurose said.

“The same energy and commitment I brought to elected office, I will now bring as CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, advancing their mission to ensure all Rhode Islanders can achieve economic security, access quality, affordable healthcare and attain the education and training that will set them on a path to prosperity,” Cicilline said.

By federal law, after June 1, members of Cicilline’s staff will continue to operate offices in both Rhode Island and Washington under the supervision of the House clerk until a new member is elected to fill the unexpired term.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Jamestown resident and Rhode Island’s senior congressional delegate, said Cicilline was “an incredible champion” for working families during his tenure.

“David is an incredibly effective legislator who tackled big issues and got things done to improve people’s lives and help Rhode Island,” Reed said.

According to Cicilline, he did not apply for the job. He was approached by a firm in charge of searching for Steinberg’s replacement, and after first refusing to interview for the position, he changed his mind.

“It was a high priority for us, from the beginning of this search process, to attract a diverse pool of candidates,” Kurose said. “Congressman Cicilline’s careerlong fight for equity and equality at the local, national, and international level, and his deep relationships within Rhode Island’s communities of color are two of the many factors that led us to this decision.”