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Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara and Starkweather & Shepley Team Up to Help Organizations Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Rhode Island – April 9, 2018 – Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC (PLDO) and Starkweather & Shepley Insurance Brokerage Inc. (S&S) are teaming up to help organizations better address, prevent and manage workplace sexual harassment. In collaboration, PLDO’s Employment Law Team and S&S, have scheduled a free seminar, entitled “Sexual Harassment: Learn What You Should Know for Your Business in the #MeToo Era,” for Wednesday, May 23, 2018 from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza Grand Ballroom in Warwick, RI. Business owners, nonprofit executives and HR managers are encouraged to attend. Registration is required and sign-in begins at 8 a.m. Complimentary breakfast will be served. To register, visit seminar registration.

“Employers are dealing with complicated employee issues today,” said PLDO Principal William E. O’Gara, who leads the firm’s Employment Law and Litigation teams. “The explosion of headline news alleging sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement has caused employers to seek out more information to understand the legal standards of sexual harassment claims, how to develop organizational policies that are meaningful to employees and in compliance with the law, and most importantly, how to build a culture of respect in the workplace that encourages zero tolerance of sexual harassment. This seminar intends to help business owners, nonprofit executives and HR managers to do just that.”

Joining Attorney O’Gara on the seminar panel are Sean Cottrell, SVP, Human Services Leader at Starkweather & Shepley Insurance Brokerage, Inc., and Aimée DuVall Phelps, Ph.D., Director of the University of Rhode Island Schmidt Labor Research Center and Teaching Professor in the College of Business Administration. Topics to be covered include current trends and the law, filing and managing claims, policies and best practices, and investigating and reporting.

According to the recent study How Organizational Policies Influence Bystander Likelihood of Reporting Moderate and Severe Sexual Harassment at Work, zero-tolerance polices within an organization increase a bystander’s willingness to report sexual harassment. This is the first study to show the influence that a zero-tolerance policy versus a standard policy statement can have on a person’s willingness to report sexual harassment incidents that they witness. It further found that when a zero-tolerance policy is an organization’s top priority, employees are more effective in reporting the most common forms of sexual harassment, both moderate and severe.

These research findings, and others such as those reported by the American Psychological Association (APA), found that organizational culture and zero-tolerance policies can be predictors of employee productivity and, therefore, an organization’s bottom line. In Sexual Harassment: Have We Made Any Progress?, published in the APA Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, researchers found that employees who report being victims of sexual harassment can manifest into anxiety and eating disorders, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, post-traumatic stress and lower levels of overall happiness. “Sexual harassment in the workplace is a pervasive, chronic problem that can cause enduring psychological harm,” according to the APA president.

For further information about the May 23 seminar, please contact Attorney O’Gara at 401-824- 5100 or email To register for the event, please visit seminar registration at

About Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC

Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara (“PLDO”) attorneys are highly skilled with a proven track record of achievement representing clients with respect to complex matters in a wide range of disciplines and industries. The founders of PLDO were formerly partners in an international law firm and are trained in multiple disciplines. The primary areas of practice for the firm include business law, special masterships, government relations and legislative strategies, civil litigation, real estate development, commercial lending, municipal law, nonprofit law, health care, white collar defense, estate planning, probate administration and trust litigation. The core values of respect, integrity, quality service and responsiveness are stressed each day at PLDO and the firm is committed to supporting the community in a meaningful way. The firm is headquartered at 1301 Atwood Avenue in Johnston, RI with offices in Massachusetts and Florida. For more information, visit

About Starkweather & Shepley Insurance Brokerage, Inc.

Established in 1879, Starkweather & Shepley is presently the largest independent agency in Rhode Island and the 68th largest Insurance brokerage firm in the U.S. Starkweather & Shepley, held in Trust since 1935, insures the firm will remain privately- held in perpetuity, providing certainty to clients and associates alike. The firm provides commercial and personal insurance, health and employee benefits, surety bonding and risk management services. These services are provided nationally and internationally, through its partnership with Assurex Global. Headquartered in East Providence, RI, Starkweather has additional branch offices in Westerly, RI; Bristol and Shelton, CT; Westwood, Sturbridge, and Martha’s Vineyard, MA; Brattleboro, VT and Tampa and Ft. Myers, FL and Brattleboro, VT.

Largest Single Donor Advised Fund – $500,000 – Established at United Way of RI

United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI) CEO and President Anthony Maione announced that the organization’s largest single donor advised fund of $500,000 was received this week from an anonymous donor. Facilitated by community leader and financial advisor Lorne Adrain, the donation creates The Zennovation Fund at UWRI. The fund is advised by the donor through UWRI’s recently developed online giving tool, MyFund.

MyFund was released in 2017 to serve a growing number of donors seeking the ease and flexibility of giving online. The product has brought in more than $800,000 in new funds at United Way this year, against a goal of $250,000. “MyFund could bring in $1 million in new accounts by the close of our fiscal year on June 30, 2018,” says Maione, “which ultimately supports our organization-wide goal of $12.8 million.”

“One of the things we know is that giving is deeply personal—every donor has a unique story, whether the donor is an individual or a family, or corporate foundation,” said Maione. “MyFund was created with the donor in mind, to consolidate a donor’s charitable giving into one account while offering convenience and security. We are very pleased with the response from the community, and with the trust we have among financial advisors who recommend us. I am particularly grateful to Lorne Adrain for connecting us with his client, an anonymous donor with a passion for the community.”

“The strength of the local United Way brand, aligned with a unique, online tool that makes giving to multiple charities quick and easy, was something that solved several issues for my client,” said Lorne Adrain. “At the time of donation, my client can electronically transfer funds to United Way and receive a tax receipt for that donation. The thoughtful decisions about which charities to support can happen over time, which was important for my client. The fact that MyFund is offered without any fees at all was also a very attractive benefit.”

“Unlike traditional donor advised funds that charge fees based on fund value, we are able to offer MyFund without passing along any fees to the donor or to the nonprofits,” said Maione. “We’re fortunate to have our administrative fees covered by a trust fund that was established by Royal Little, the founder of Textron. The trust enabled us to develop the MyFund platform, which provides donors with the ability to quickly and easily make gifts to any 501c3 in the country, using a cell phone, laptop, tablet or desktop. MyFund is a flexible tool that puts the donor in control.”

About MyFund
Offered exclusively through United Way of Rhode Island, MyFund is a free, online banking experience that makes charitable giving quick, easy, and secure. An account can be established with a minimum pledge of $1,000. MyFund donors distribute their funds to any 501c3 in the country, including schools, universities, and faith organizations. MyFund is available for the individual donor, as well as for family and corporate foundations.

About Lorne Adrain
Lorne Adrain has a national life insurance practice focused on corporate and estate planning applications. He is an active philanthropic and community leader who has worked with business, nonprofit and government leaders throughout Rhode Island and across the country. He earned his MBA from the Harvard Business School, and a B.S. from the University of Rhode Island.

State of Rhode Island Supports United States Virgin Islands Recovery

Help is on the way from Rhode Island to the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), which is still reeling from two hurricanes that hit last September.


The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency is assisting the USVI in their ongoing efforts to reconnect their communications since Hurricanes Maria and Irma battered the area last September. At 4:00am this morning, RIEMA shipped six Rapid Emergency Satellite Communication systems to help bridge the gap in their network communications. These portable units enable field personnel to be online and connected to the internet in a matter of minutes.


When the Category 4 and 5 hurricanes hit, many of the islands’ communication services were destroyed. The hurricanes disrupted landline phones, internet connections and cell service. These Rapid Emergency Satellite Communications systems will help people connect again. “Rhode Islanders stand with our fellow citizens in the US Virgin Islands,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “I’m glad that we’re able to support their recovery efforts.”


Rhode Island’s support is possible through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. EMAC is a nationally adopted mutual aid agreement among states to share resources during times of disaster.

Outstanding Organization Award to be Presented to RIC’s Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island College’s Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies will be honored on Saturday, March 17, at the 30th anniversary gala celebration of Radio Voz do Emigrante, a Portuguese-language radio station serving SouthCoast’s Portuguese-speaking community. More than 1,000 guests are expected at the Venus de Milo Restaurant in Swansea, Massachusetts.


Events will begin at 6 p.m. hosted in Portuguese and English.


In keeping with the mission of Radio Voz do Emigrante to serve and represent the Lusophone community, RIC’s Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies (IPLWS) will be one of 10 organizations presented with an Outstanding Organization Award in recognition of its significant contributions.


“We are proud that the institute plays such a central role in connecting Rhode Island College to Lusophone communities,” said RIC President Frank D. Sánchez. “Through academic programming, educational events and significantly expanded study abroad opportunities, the institute has shared the Portuguese culture across New England and contributed greatly to our diverse community. We are honored that the institute is being recognized.”


Launched in 2006, the IPLWS was established to support and promote Portuguese studies at RIC, to act as a bridge between RIC and Lusophone communities, and to pursue scholarly and cultural research in the Portuguese language and Lusophone culture.


Director of IPLWS and RIC Associate Professor of Portuguese Studies Silvia Oliveira stated, “More than 10 percent of Rhode Island’s population claim ancestry from Portugal [the majority from the Azores archipelago], Cabo Verde and other Lusophone countries – the highest percentage of any state in the union. The history and contributions of this population are an integral part of the rich fabric of the state.”


“Our institute is a locus of cultural, literary, pedagogical and research resources inclusive of the entire Lusophone diaspora. It is a gathering place for cultural events, teacher conferences, literary resources, artistic exhibitions and performing arts productions, not only for RIC students but for the enrichment of Lusophone communities at large,” she said.


Among the IPLWS’ many contributions was to promote the establishment of a Portuguese major in RIC’s Modern Languages Department. Rhode Island College now has the distinction of being the only public institution of higher education in the state to offer a major in Portuguese. Currently, more than 300 RIC students enroll each year in Portuguese courses and 25 students are majoring and minoring in the language.


IPLWS has also significantly increased RIC study abroad opportunities in Portuguese-speaking countries and hosted local, national and international leaders at the college, including Rui Maria de Araújo, the prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, former prime minister and current minister of defense and security for the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Both dignitaries were awarded Presidential Medals by Sánchez in 2017.


IPLWS’ first director, Marie Fraley, noted that “since the institute’s inception, Frank Baptista, founder/producer/director of Rádio Voz do Emigrante, has been a valuable media partner for the IPLWS. The Portuguese-speaking community in our area depends on his broadcasts as a source of news and commentary on international, national and local issues in the Portuguese language.”


Rhode Island College congratulates Baptista on 30 years of broadcast excellence and is honored that he has included the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies at Rhode Island College among the evening’s honorees.

Established in 1854, Rhode Island College serves approximately 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students through its five schools: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, the School of Business, the School of Nursing and the School of Social Work. For more information, visit

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