Fortunato in, Nasif out as head of NRIC

Fortunato in, Nasif out as head of NRIC

LINCOLN – Outgoing Lincoln Supt. Georgia Fortunato has been named executive director of the Northern Rhode Island Collaborative, a public nonprofit providing school districts with special education programs and other educational services. Fortunato will retire as superintendent of Lincoln schools on June 30.

The Regional Board of Superintendents, the regulatory body for NRIC, voted to approve Fortunato’s appointment in executive session during its June 5 meeting. Sitting Executive Director Joseph Nasif Jr. told The Breeze it’s been about a month since members of the board began to indicate that they were “looking for the collaboration to go in a different direction” in leadership.

Fortunato, who’s spent 37 years in Lincoln schools, didn’t respond to a request for comment this week. At 58, she previously indicated that she’s still a good way off from retirement

Nasif, a retired Cumberland superintendent, has served as executive director of NRIC for seven years, the first two on an interim basis and permanently thereafter. He has served on a year-to-year basis for 90 days annually, the maximum allotted time for a public school retiree. Every year in June, the status of the position is placed on the board’s meeting agenda, however Nasif said he did not expect to be leaving this year.

“Every year in June we go through this, I had assumed this year was going to be the same,” he told The Breeze. “Without being specific, the board felt it was time for a change of executive director.”

Nasif said he initially thought he’d serve two or three years as director, but became attached to the collaboration and the “tremendous people” he worked with.

“After the first couple of years, I’ve said to everyone including my wife, who has been super supportive, I’ll do this as long as the board feels they want me here as executive director. And I’d go back in a heartbeat to help out,” he said. “In all honesty I never dreamed I’d be there seven years, but the Collaborative is a special place. The faculty, staff and administration are outstanding.”

He plans to stay on for the interim period before Fortunato steps in, likely in mid-August. Nasif said he would help her adjust to the responsibilities of the role before he moves on. He called Fortunato an “outstanding choice” for the role.

Bernard DiLullo Jr., superintendent of schools in Johnston, was named chairman at last week’s meeting. Fortunato resigned as chairwoman of the board in May, because the position requires that someone be an active superintendent. Smithfield Supt. Judith Paolucci has been named vice chairwoman.

“The decision is not anything personal to Joe,” DiLullo said, noting that the board has been satisfied with his performance. “It’s just about a change in leadership.”

DeLullo said he expects Fortunato to serve for 90 days per year as Nasif did. Her contract had not yet been drafted.

Nasif said he hopes to spend more time with his wife and family before his “new year” starts in August.

“It’s going to be a big adjustment for me because the whole thing came on so fast, but I can look back and see how the students, faculty, staff and administration team have significantly enriched my life, and hopefully I’m a better person for it. On the same token I feel pride for what we do – helping those kids who years ago really weren’t given the opportunities to ensure they’re successful in life,” he said.

He said he’ll miss the day-to-day interactions, “but I’ll surface again. It’s an emotional experience for me … on my last day I’ll reluctantly leave with my head up high knowing the Collaborative is in a better place.”