URI alumni receive awards for business success

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KINGSTON, R.I. – June 9, 2011 – The Providence Business News recently honored five University of Rhode Island graduates and a university faculty member with its 2011 Business Women Awards.

Theresa Molloy, Industry Leader – Financial Services

Molloy, a 1986 URI graduate, is vice president and controller for FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial-property insurers. She supervises more than 35 accounting professionals around the world, coordinating and consolidating the company’s financial statements, as well as managing internal and external financial reporting.

The Wakefield resident holds the honor of being the only woman vice president in FM Global’s 300-person finance department, which is spread across four continents. She hopes her success will inspire other women to enter the insurance field, which she says is still dominated by men.

In her 24 years of service at FM Global, Molloy has taken on many groundbreaking projects for the firm. In 1999, she managed the merger of five individual companies and more than 20 subsidiaries. Molloy also developed FM Global’s corporate-finance internship program, which allows college students to gain experience working in a fast-paced finance department.

Marie Ghazal, Industry Leader – Health Care
Ghazal is the chief executive officer of the Rhode Island Free Clinic, a non-profit organization that offers free, all-inclusive health care services to those who could not otherwise afford them. Because of its limited resources and largely volunteer-based staff, this clinic uses a monthly lottery to accept new patients, and although not everyone is selected, the clinic has been able to add more people each month.

The Central Falls native and current Rumford resident has spent most of her career working as a registered nurse and administrator in community health centers.

Ghazal, a 1977 URI graduate, worked at The Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island as the first nurse researcher with the Pawtucket Heart Health Study. In 1986, Ghazal became the director of the Central Falls Health Center, where she secured federal funds that helped the clinic solve financial issues and merge with another clinic to become the Blackstone Valley Community Health Center in Pawtucket.

Ghazal also served as vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer at the Providence Community Health Centers for 20 years, heading several major programs, including the operation of Rhode Island’s sexually transmitted disease clinic and a health center for the homeless.

Jill H. Andy, Industry Leader – Professional Services
Andy, of Norton, Mass., graduated from URI in 1986 with a degree in urban studies and a dream of working as a community planner.

Twenty-three years ago, her father suggested that she send a résumé to Amica Mutual Insurance Co., of which he was a longtime policyholder. Andy applied even though she was not in the insurance field and was hired as an associate claims adjuster in Baltimore, Md.

Within 16 years, Andy earned seven promotions and quickly moved her way up to her current position, the senior vice president of the human resources department at the Lincoln-based company.

In her position, she instituted procedures to encourage open communication and access to accurate information throughout Amica, and she created an anonymous periodic survey for employee feedback. Andy also launched a yearlong diversity-awareness program for the company.

In an effort to promote employee wellness, she provides employees and their families with opportunities for reduced premiums if they participate. Her programs to encourage healthy living, including the smoking-cessation program and nutritional-improvement initiative, helped earn Amica’s human resources department the 2009 and 2010 Governor’s Wellness Award for distinguished achievement, as well as a platinum award in 2007 by The Wellness Council of America.

Denice Spero, Industry Leader – Technology Services
Spero is a research professor at the University of Rhode Island and the co-director for the university’s Institute for Immunology and Informatics, or I’Cubed. This Providence-based company is a grant-funded research program using advanced technology methods to quickly discover vaccines and develop pharmaceuticals.

Prior to working for I’Cubed, Spero co-founded Developing World Cures Inc., which focuses on developing therapies for typically neglected diseases. This program allows students from overseas to study vaccine development at I’Cubed. The I’Cubed team is currently researching vaccines for Lyme disease and liver and stomach cancer.

Spero also worked as a research chemist at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Ridgefield, Conn. for 18 years. She designed treatments and medications for asthma, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. She was later promoted to vice president in drug discovery, becoming one of only two women among 60 senior executives.

Kimberly Rose

Rose, a 1978 URI graduate with a degree in business administration, co-founded River Bend Athletic Club in South Kingstown with her father just one year after completing college. Now she is president.

The Wakefield resident has updated the club over the years to keep up with the latest fitness trends, opening 12 racquetball courts and eventually turning them into an aerobics room, cardio theater, and yoga studio.

Jennifer McCann

McCann, who earned her master’s degree in marine affairs at URI in 1994, works as a researcher at the university’s Graduate School of Oceanography. She played a key role in the school’s study of ocean uses, called the ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP), which was later adopted by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council.

Growing up, McCann wanted to become a social worker. During her senior year of high school, she participated in a study-abroad program in the Dominican Republic. In the four months she spent there, she discovered the country’s negative perception of the United States. This realization inspired her to pursue an undergraduate degree in international relations and Spanish, with the hopes of someday changing foreign countries’ opinions.

The West Kingston resident was hired by the Center for Marine Conservation (now The Ocean Conservancy), to work with government, education, and marine industry leaders to protect North Atlantic humpback whales. She later led Latin American programs at the Coastal Resources Center at URI.