Elisabeth Harrison

News Director

Elisabeth Harrison's journalism background includes everything from behind-the-scenes work with the CBS Evening News to freelance documentary production.

She joined the WRNI team in 2007 as a Morning Edition producer and freelance journalist. In 2009, she became a full-time reporter, and became the Morning Edition host in 2011.  She was promoted to full-time News Director in June of 2015.

Harrison's education is as wide ranging as her work at Rhode Island Public Radio. She has a B.A. in English and French from Wellesley College, and a joint M.A. in Journalism and French Studies from NYU.

A native of Los Angeles, Harrison loves good food and good movies.

Ways to Connect

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island officially has a new education commissioner after a vote Monday to confirm Governor Gina Raimondo’s nominee, Ken Wagner.

So far, reaction to Wagner has been optimistic, but some teachers have expressed reservations because he lacks experience in the classroom. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison sat down with Larry Purtill, a member of the State Board of Education and the president of the National Education Association Rhode Island, one of two teachers’ unions in the state.

John Bender / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Board of Education has unanimously confirmed Ken Wagner to lead the state department in charge of K-12 schools. Wagner has his work cut out for him when it comes to teachers. Many are hoping that he will reach out to them after they clashed with his predecessor. 

Summer in Rhode Island means time to grab a book and sink your toes into the sand, or head out to the nearest lawn chair. For a few summer reading tips, Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison turned to Nicole Merola, chair of the Department of Literary Arts and Studies at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Nicole Merola's summer book picks:


"I've just started it, and I have to say that I'm really kind of engrossed in the way that he is weaving together music, musical composition, chemistry and bioterrorism."

Manuel C. Correira

Organizers believe Bristol has the longest running, continuous 4th of July celebration in the country. It began as what are called "patriotic exercises" in 1785. The parade likely started in the 1800’s.

This year’s Chief Marshall, State Representative Raymond Gallison, Jr., has attended the event every year since 1974. In all those years, he missed the parade just once, in 1978, the year he got married.

Celebrity magazines are reporting that Pop Star Taylor Swift is in Rhode Island, where she plans to host a barbeque for the 4th of July.

Scottish musician Calvin Harris posted a photo of Swift on Instagram at what looks like her Watch Hill Mansion. Swift can be seen grilling vegetables on a flagstone deck with the ocean in the background.

US Weekly reports that Swift hosted a 4th of July party last year at her multi-million dollar home in Westerly. This year the magazine reports her preparations include a large slide, and several deliveries.


The newest mayoral charter school set to open in Rhode Island has picked a location in downtown Woonsocket. 

  RISE Prep will start with a kindergarten class this fall and grow to include a middle school. This will be the first charter elementary school in Woonsocket.

Governor Gina Raimondo has selected Colonel Christopher P. Callahan as the new Adjutant General of Rhode Island and the Commanding General of the Rhode Island National Guard.

Callahan will replace Major General Kevin McBride, who retired in June. Raimondo describes him as an experienced serviceman after 25 years and various positions in the National Guard.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Charter schools dodged a bullet, this month when Rhode Island lawmakers ended the legislative session without agreement between House and Senate bills that could have changed the way charter schools are funded and restricted their ability to grow. 

Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison asked Tim Groves, the head of the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools, whether he thinks public opinion is turning against charter schools.

Elisabeth Harrison

After months of anticipation, the General Assembly failed to pass a single bill related to charter schools.

That's good news if you're in the charter school world. It means lawmakers failed to reach agreement on bills that would place new restrictions on the expansion of charter schools and reopen the state funding formula to reduce money for charter schools.

Elisabeth Harrison

U.S. Senator Jack Reed says the focus should be intelligence after a terrorist attack at an American gas company in France. The attack included an explosion that killed one person and injured about a dozen others.

"What you’re seeing are these lone wolf attacks," Reed said. "Very difficult to disrupt because there’s not a lot of hierarchical organization. It’s an individual one or two, who are self-radicalized in many cases."

Elisabeth Harrison

Officials cut the ribbon Friday on a brand new section of bike path along the Blackstone River. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison reports the project also restored a portion of the river wall that was damaged in the 2010 flood.

You’ve heard the song that goes "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot." Well, this is just the opposite.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Providence Superintendent Susan Lusi opens up about her tenure in the state’s largest school district, as she prepares to step down. She spoke with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison at the district central office before her departure next week.

While she says she unequivocally believes she has made a difference, Lusi admits that Providence's student test scores leave a lot to be desired.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

One of Rhode Island’s most controversial school leaders is retiring. Fran Gallo, the superintendent of Central Falls public schools, steps down on Friday. Her tenure includes the firing and re-hiring of high school teachers, which thrust Rhode Island into the center of a national debate over public education. Gallo sat down with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison at her office in Central Falls to look back on the firings, and what she’s learned from Rhode Island’s smallest school district.

Data released Monday by the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University show that families with mixed immigration status face significant challenges. The numbers are based on a survey of nearly 180 Latino families. When at least one parent is an undocumented immigrant, researcher Kalina Brabeck says children may struggle in school.

Elisabeth Harrison

Calling it "the most restrictive and punitive charter school bill in the entire country," the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies lobbied against the legislation, which would require local approval for new and expanding charter schools.

RIMA, one of several charter school and public education advocacy groups to raise concerns about the legislation, cites negative consequences, including a "fiscal catastrophe" for schools in the process of adding grades.

The group used Providence-based Achievement First, which has opened two elementary schools, as an example.