Our Sincere Appreciation to Our Keynote Speakers
Congressman Richard Neal
Representative June Speakman State of Rhode Island General Assembly
Senator Jake Oliveira of Massachusetts Legislature
Congressman Richard Neal was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1988 and served his first two terms on the House Banking Committee before joining the Ways and Means Committee in 1993. In January 2019, Congressman Neal was elected by his colleagues to assume the esteemed position of Chairman, marking the first time since 1875 that a representative from Massachusetts had done so.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Congressman Neal and the Ways and Means Committee worked tirelessly to bring relief to the American people. The first relief bill, the CARES Act, included several provisions including federal unemployment compensation, economic assistance payments, and telehealth flexibility.
Chairman Neal is the dean of both the Massachusetts Delegation and the New England Congressional Delegation. He is an At-Large Whip for the House Democrats and is the Democratic Leader of the Friends of Ireland Caucus.
Congressman Neal has received many awards and honorary degrees in his career including an Honorary Degree of Humane Letters from Mount Holyoke College where he is a former trustee and an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from Ulster University in Northern Ireland. Prior to his time in Congress, Congressman Neal was a high school teacher, member of the Springfield City Council, and Mayor of the City of Springfield from 1984 to 1988.
Representative June Speakman
Second Vice Chair, House Municipal Government and Housing Committee Member, House Oversight Committee, House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, House Health and Human Services Committee
Representative June S. Speakman was first elected to represent District 68 in Warren and Bristol in March 2019. She is the second vice chair of the Municipal Government and Housing Committee. She serves on the House Oversight Committee and chairs its Aging and Senior Services Subcommittee. She is also a member of the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the House Health and Human Services Committee. Representative Speakman is also a delegate to the New England Board of Higher Education.
In 2021, she championed an amendment to the state budget to establish Rhode Island’s first permanent funding stream for affordable housing, which will make an estimated $4 million available annually to help address the state’s critical shortage of affordable housing. Since 2021, she has been leading a special legislative commission, created through legislation she sponsored, to study the Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act. She was the sponsor of two 2022 laws resulting from the commission’s work, both aimed at making the development of process of affordable housing more efficient.
Representative Speakman is a strong advocate for environmental protection and climate change resiliency, and has been pushing for laws to prevent exposure to cancer-linked polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). She was the sponsor of the 2022 law requiring the Department of Health to set standards for the chemicals in drinking water and of the 2021 law establishing the Forest Conservation Commission.
In 2022, Rep. Speakman was awarded Grow Smart RI’s Smart Growth Leadership Award for her work on housing and the environment.
Having previously taught at Rutgers University and the Claremont Colleges, in 1995 Representative Speakman joined the faculty of the Department of Politics and International Relations at Roger Williams University, where she teaches American politics, state and local government and public policy. She has served in numerous leadership positions at the university, including department chair, Faculty Senate president and president of the RWU Faculty Association (NEARI).
Senator Jake Oliveira proudly serves the residents of the Hampden, Hampshire & Worcester District, which includes twelve communities, including his hometown of Ludlow.
Jake has been working in public service for two decades. He started his career in public service in his junior year at Ludlow High School, serving as the student representative to the Ludlow School Committee. He followed that up with four years as a member of the Ludlow Town Meeting and twelve years as an elected Ludlow School Committee Member.
Through his work on the school committee, Jake was elected as the youngest President of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees in 2016. In addition, he served as a member of the National School Boards Association Board of Directors and a board member of the Lower Pioneer Valley Collaborative that oversees vocational/technical education for Ludlow students.
Jake was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2020, where he served the 7th Hampden District for one term before being elected Senator in 2022. Now in the Senate, Jake is the Chair of the Municipalities and Regional Government Committee and Vice Chair of both the Public Health Committee and the Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development Committee.
Jake is an alumnus of Framingham State University, where he served three years as a member of the university’s Board of Trustees. He was awarded Business West’s 40 Under 40 distinction in 2019, and he currently resides on East Street in Ludlow, next door to his grandmother, Lena.