Mayor Jorge Elorza today announced that Courtney Hawkins will serve as the City of Providence’s Chief Policy Officer. In addition to overseeing Providence Talks, she will oversee the city’s sustainability program, Healthy Communities Office, workforce development programs, partnerships, education policy and serve as senior advisor to the mayor.
“Courtney is a proven leader who has dedicated her career to helping non-profits and governments provide services that build strong neighborhoods and communities,” said Mayor Elorza. “Courtney and her team have led a turnaround of Providence Talks and I am excited for her to play a greater role in my administration and in programs that matter to residents.
A Rhode Island native, Hawkins, has served as Executive Director of Providence Talks, a first of its kind early childhood intervention program designed to close the ‘thirty million word gap’ on a citywide scale, since May 2015. She previously served as Senior Vice-President at FEGS Health & Human Services, a New York City based human services agency, where she oversaw programs serving more than 25,000 people annually in the areas of youth development, education, foster care, welfare to work, workforce development and immigration assistance.
Hawkins received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University after graduating from the University of Rhode Island. She brings extensive experience in the implementation of high quality programs for youth and families while working with major partners and stakeholders.
Caitlin Molina will succeed Hawkins as Executive Director of Providence Talks, an innovative program which aims to improve early education outcomes for low income children through the use of innovative technology and high quality parent coaching.
Molina has served as Deputy Executive Director of Providence Talks since 2014, during which time the program has experienced significant growth and has now graduated more than 100 families. During this time Molina has led the program’s approach to curriculum development, quality improvement and the development and roll-out of new models. In addition to the oversight of the day to day operations for the program, she has led the technical assistance and training during the program’s expansion to include 6 agencies and more than 20 staff. Molina previously worked for Meeting Street as an Early Intervention Educator and taught 7th grade math at Gilbert Stuart Middle School while serving with AmeriCorps. She has a degree in early childhood education.
Providence was the grand prize winner of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ inaugural Mayors Challenge and received $5 million to implement Providence Talks. The Mayors Challenge is an ideas competition that encourages cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life – and that have the potential to spread to other cities.