Mayor’s luncheon links local leaders

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Networking, so say the folks who wrote the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.”

Take Rev. Peter J. Gower, the popular pastor at Our Lady of Grace Church and Rev. Chris Abhulime from King’s Tabernacle Church, for example.

Monday, Father Gower and Pastor Abhulime sat at a table with Mike Knipper, Head of Properties-Executive Vice President for Citizens Bank, enjoying a delicious lunch that was expertly prepared by Public Works Director Arnie Vecchione and staffer Peter DelPonte, Johnston’s resident volunteer chefs.

The two clergy members and Knipper, who represented ‘Corporate Rhode Island” Monday, enjoyed sausage and peppers, chicken cacciatore, salad, rice, pizza, orzo rice and cold beverages while talking about their respective Johnston based parishes and Citizens mega-campus that is being built off Greenville Avenue.

In the middle of it all was Mayor Joseph Polisena, who personally greeted each and every one of the 88 people who showed up what has become a popular stop for business leaders, law enforcement officials, mayors and town managers as well as people from the state’s educational system.

“I love doing this,” Polisena exclaimed while watching Peter F. Neronha, the former U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island, chatting with Joe DeSantis, the CEO of Tri-Town Community Action Agency and William Murray, the Mayor of Cumberland. “My invitation always reads these luncheons have been very successful in affording attendees a unique opportunity to network with colleagues in government for the betterment of their communities all while enjoying a delicious lunch.”

Polisena, who made sure everyone that entered the spacious downstairs meeting room-office area in Johnston’s Municipal Courthouse Monday, had a plate full of food had a chance to chat with business leaders, state and local officials – from the democratic and Republican sides of the roster.

“Good afternoon Mayor,” Polisena said while extending his hand to former Cranston Mayor John O’Leary who now works in the state’s education field. “It’s nice to see you again.”

O’Leary, like Nicholas Mattiello, a native Cranstonian and Speaker of the House of Representatives as well as K. Joseph Shekarcki, the House Majority Leader form Warwick, were also on hand and had a chance to talk with Joseph Reposa, the new Executive Director at the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Center in Johnston.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed, who has been a regular at the networking luncheons – which are held periodically during the year since they began several years ago, was also in attendance and as usual complimented Polisena on the day’s menu and gathering.

Reed had an opportunity to catch up with folks from the non-profit sector who he had been trying to reach via telephone but couldn’t make connection.

“In my opinion, this is the absolute best form of networking,” Polisena offered while thanking Richard J. DelFino, the Municipal Court clerk for serving as host and Judge Michael DiChirro for coming. “People can come here, enjoy great food and network and don’t have to play phone tag; that’s the reason behind resuming these luncheons.”

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