Barbara Cottam

Ian Donnis / RIPR

  Controversy over the new tourism slogan "cooler and warmer" put Rhode Island in the national spotlight last week. On Friday, Gov. Gina Raimondo responded by dropping the slogan and backing away from an earlier comment that Rhode Islanders should stop being so negative.

With Education Commissioner Deborah Gist posting on Facebook that she has left her her job, who is in charge of the Rhode Island Department of Education?

Elisabeth Harrison

Governor Gina Raimondo’s pick to lead the State Board of Education faces a hearing Wednesday. Barbara Cottam is scheduled to appear before the Senate Education Committee. 

Cottam, who currently works as an executive vice president for Citizens Bank Financial Group, has a background in politics. She worked for governors Bruce Sundlun and Joseph Garrahy, and she’s married to Garrahy’s son, John Garrahy. The couple has two daughters, who attend a private school in Providence.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Big changes are in the offing for Rhode Island public education policy. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what’s at stake.

After six years as Rhode Island’s top education guru, education commissioner Deborah Gist is headed to her native Tulsa to become school superintendent. Eva-Marie Mancuso, chairwoman of the state education board, is out. Barbara Cottam is slated to become the new leader of the board as Gov. Gina Raimondo puts her stamp on arguably the most important mission of government, educating  the young.

Governor Gina Raimondo has nominated new leadership for the State Board of Education. The governor has announced several new nominees, including her pick for a new chair: Barbara Cottam.

Cottam, the Executive Vice President for Citizens Financial Group, was a founding member of Kids Count RI. She also served as press secretary under former Governor Bruce Sundlun. Cottam will replace current board chair Eva-Marie Mancuso. Her appointment must be confirmed by the State Senate.

Veteran Rhode Island political reporter Jim Baron was remembered this afternoon as a journalist of great integrity, ability, dedication and humor at a celebration of his life at the Bellows Funeral Chapel in Lincoln, R.I.

Baron, who died January 5 at age 57 after a protracted illness, was a reporter for the Pawtucket Times and Woonsocket Call whose career spanned more than three decades, most of it spent covering Rhode Island politics and the General Assembly.