Bringing life sciences to life.

At RI Bio, we empower people to create the kinds of breakthroughs that improve the world. Our efforts support scientists and entrepreneurs in their work to advance the development and delivery of therapeutics and products that improve health, protect our climate, and nourish humanity. The results can be life-changing.

Our members and participants say it best, and here they have shared their personal vignettes of how RI Bio has made a difference.

“I learned how to uncover potential investors to approach warmly, and the webinar provided insight on fundraising for a pharma company.”

 

Jerrold Shapiro, President, Floelle, Inc.

“This was a great event! Networking was certainly the most important aspect for me. It is important to create connections and get to know who is going to invest in your start-up before you need the capital and not in the moment that you need it!”

 

Emanuele Raggi, PhD candidate, URI

“I learnt about the importance of the entrepreneur him/herself, their personal qualities, and of the need to be well-networked in order to find capital.”

 

Michael Elliott, Physician-Scientist, Drug Developer, Early-Stage Life Science Investor

“This webinar gave my organization better information to share with entrepreneurs and ideas for how to be a better mentor.”

 

Mia Nolan, RIHub Venture Mentoring Service

“As a presenter, I appreciated the opportunity to give our company airtime, and there was sufficient interest in the topic to warrant a good-sized audience.”

 

Stevin Zorn, PhD, President & CEO, MindImmune Therapeutics, Inc.

“It provided a good general education and good suggestions on what to do when trying to raise capital.”

 

Participant, RI Innovator Series, Access to Capital

“I appreciate that RI Bio continues to build up small companies. This offered great insight on how to get started on the fundraising journey.”

 

Participant, RI Innovator Series, Access to Capital

“It was great to get a glimpse into key companies and what’s happening in the region, and I made several potential networking connections.”

 

Participant, RI Innovator Series, Access to Capital

“It was interesting to hear about RI-based ventures and funds, their funding level and what they are looking for. The level of detail in the Q&A was particularly helpful.”

 

Participant, RI Innovator Series, Access to Capital

Ann

Introduction to Biotechnology graduate

Finding her groove.

A single mom, Ann had dropped out of high school a dozen years ago and found providing for three children on a prep cook’s salary nearly impossible. She had often thought about going back to school and finishing her education to get a better job, but she just never thought it possible. Then COVID hit, and she had to help her 12 year old twins and 9 year old daughter with remote schooling. She heard about RI Bio’s Intro to Bio course and Skills for RI’s job coaching partnership. She’d always been interested in science and decided to take a chance.

READ ANN'S STORY

How did the Intro to Bio Course help you?
“It really opened my eyes and encouraged me like wow, I’m smart. I found skills that I forgot I had. It was nice to have Martha [from RI Bio] in my corner, people there to help guide you, if I needed anything, I could reach out and always got help. It was an overall great program. It touched on a lot of great notes and got the ball rolling in my head. The lab work just kind of clicked, just the weighing, measuring, a common kitchen skill but look what you can do with it. It introduced me to so many different job possibilities. I never knew how much I was really capable of doing until it opened my eyes. It was like, Hey Ann, you’re smarter than you think.”

What did you like most about the course?
“The online aspect–being able to be home and log on and access that new world of online school was great but at the same time difficult with three kids at home. There was always great support, and working with Duncan [from Skills for RI’s Future] was awesome. He said he could help me find a job, and helped me write an awesome resume with things I didn’t know about myself. I’ve never seen myself look so good–being a mom with no education is really hard on your self esteem. It was an awesome, positive experience. They didn’t turn me away, they didn’t say what I was aspiring to do was impossible. Duncan helped me find a GED program and I worked really hard, and within two and a half weeks I earned my GED.”

How did it make you feel?
“It motivated me and made me want to further my education and show my kids how important it is. I wanted to show them that with determination and hard work you can get anything done, no matter how many times you fail. My son has struggled with school. I want to show them, anyone can take anything from you, but they can’t take your education.”

What’s next for you?
“College! I want to be a full time student, focus on my studies and see how I can progress through it. I’ve been accepted into CCRI and I’m getting my financial aid set up. I’m hoping to get a degree in psychology and concentrate on substance abuse. I feel like my story can help people. I’ve been in recovery for five years, that’s the road I feel I’ve been chosen to take, that’s where my heart is pulling me. I want to be able to help others, make a difference. I’m happy with how things have worked out.”

What do you want to tell others about Intro to Bio?
“I hope some other mother or person will see my story and take advantage. It’s an awesome program, you can find different fields you never thought you could do. I wouldn’t have gotten this far if it wasn’t for Skills for Rhode Island and RI Bio inspiring me–I may have never gone down this road to pursue an education for myself. You made an impact in my life and I’m so grateful for your help.”

I found skills that I forgot I had…I never knew how much I was really capable of doing until this course opened my eyes.

April Arnold

April Arnold

Project Management Office, Rhode Island Quality Institute

Finding her leadership voice.

April Arnold, Manager of the Project Management Office at the Rhode Island Quality Institute, took RI Bio’s Leadership Development and Advanced Leadership Development courses to further develop her skills and grow her career. Along the way, she found the confidence to reach for her goals.

READ APRIL'S STORY

How did you get involved?
“My organization asked if I would like to participate in this class, and since it’s a leadership certificate class I thought it would be a great avenue to further my career path. The classes were great, made up of professionals with different backgrounds who were open to sharing their experiences. A major highlight was being able to network with and learn from all these talented individuals.”

What new skills did you learn?
“One of the most challenging parts of my job is holding people accountable without authority. So hearing about other people’s work experiences and the ways they’ve handled similar situations was incredibly helpful. I learned new skills for how to manage without authority in a persuasive way that didn’t come across as overbearing or aggressive. Another topic I really liked was managing upward. I appreciated that we spent time discussing the value of managing not only your own team, but different ways to manage your own superiors to achieve favorable outcomes. Those were the two most powerful takeaways for me that I have used in my daily activities. The homework assignments to use the new skills and report back were an important reminder that to be successful in management you need to observe, listen and empathize before you jump to conclusions.

“One group activity I enjoyed was talking through difficult scenarios. We were given personas, such as CEO or Business Analyst, with a little information about the person. Then we’d discuss – based on what we knew of that person – how we would respond in a given scenario as leaders. That was really insightful to me as there were perspectives brought up that I never would have thought of. Just because you may think your way of approaching a situation is the right or only way, there are actually several other ways you could approach it.”

How did you incorporate what you learned at work?
“Another skill I learned is how powerful words can be in any communication you use, and how a simple tweak of a sentence can change the tone of your message. For example, ‘I think you should’ has a negative undertone, versus saying ‘do you think it would be a good idea if.’ It’s amazing what wording like that can do to change the undertone of an email, especially now that we’re 100% remote. Being a type A-personality, I am typically very direct in my communication and try to do things as quick as possible, so I’d usually just say ok, or respond with a one-word answer. I found that shortness was not well received by my peers. Having a longer email that is not as direct and that has more conversational language around it – ‘hi hope your day’s going well, just following up on…’ – made tremendous positive steps in my relationships with senior leaders and my peers. Who knew something so small could make such a big impact!”

How did the leadership development help you?
“It has helped me think about my career future, what I want for myself, and helped me build the confidence to go for it. Additionally, I have felt validated in many ways. I have experienced some challenging situations in the past and I second-guessed my response. When I took this class, I was very honest and brought up some of those situations, the students who had similar experiences were very supportive of how I handled myself and confirmed I was managing myself in the best possible way that I could. As a manager, I gained a better understanding and patience for my staff. The class opened my eyes to the importance of loosening up the reins and letting people go off on their own and fail or succeed. Some of my staff’s and I greatest failures have helped us learn the most valuable lessons and made us better professionals because of it.

“I also recommended that one of my employees take the leadership class. I think it’s a great opportunity for anyone who wants to grow in their career. The class is now spending a lot of time on how to be successful while working remotely. My employee has learned a lot through that training, and has taught me a thing or two, which has been great!”

Do you think you will attend/sign up your team for other RI Bio webinars?
“Absolutely!”

“The Leadership Development classes have helped me think about my career future, what I want for myself, and helped me build the confidence to go for it.”

Michelle L. Dexter

Michelle L. Dexter

SHRM-SCP, Sr. Director, Human Resources & Organizational Effectiveness, Rhode Island Quality Institute (RIQI)

Adding an employee benefit.

The Senior Director of HR at the Rhode Island Quality Institute, Michelle Dexter uses RI Bio Leadership Development classes to augment training opportunities and keep staff engaged in their career path. She appreciates all they have learned and the new skills they have brought back to the organization.

READ MICHELLE'S STORY

How does RIBio help enhance your benefit offering?
“RIQI has benefited tremendously from RI Bio’s training and development opportunities – they have been extremely meaningful to our team since we are a smaller nonprofit. Since 2018, over a dozen staff members have participated in various programs. We work directly with our staff to best understand what new skills they want to learn, and RI Bio has proactively engaged with us; asking ‘what does your organization need and how can we create a curriculum that meets your talent development needs for your workforce?’ So they’re very interested in helping organizations like RIQI. It’s been a fantastic relationship – they take the time to listen and really assess the needs in the life sciences community.”

Who in your organization has been helped?
“The Leadership Development programs have been beneficial for many levels of our employees: our emerging leaders who are shifting from an individual contributor role to managing teams; project managers who are leading and managing projects; and our advanced leaders who are seeking to enhance their leadership and managerial skills.”

What did you think of the Leadership Development classes you sat in on?
“Mari Anne Snow as facilitator is very engaging, she gets to know each attendee personally and builds on their conversations. Over the years, I have participated in many training programs and I can tell when people gloss over, but here I could tell the participants were actively listening, engaged, and eager to learn. RI Bio has now included a 30-minute one-on-one consult with Mari Anne. Participants can privately and confidentially talk about situations they’re dealing with, which they might not have mentioned in a group setting, and she gives them tools to assist them through that process. I’ve received feedback that this has been really helpful.”

What kind of feedback did you hear from your team?
“It’s not your typical training program, the courses are very interactive, hands on, and relatable. RIQI staff have shared that they can take what they learned in the classroom, connect the dots and transfer it to their work environment immediately. Additionally, our staff are collaborating and connecting with others in the life sciences community. They are building lasting relationships with other professionals whom they otherwise may not have met. Through RI Bio they have an opportunity to see things from diverse perspectives and gain different insights from others in similar roles. They can learn from those experiences and apply it to their own situation.”

How have the classes helped your workforce, what new skills have they learned?
“The Leadership Development series enhanced our staff’s skills in many areas, such as conflict resolution, managing difficult conversations, effective communication, and understanding the importance of leadership presence whether or not you’re in a leadership role, as well as emotional intelligence and how important it is to take a step back and look at things through different lenses. For some of our newer managers, the program enhanced and improved their delegation skills. The remote worker training program included how to manage or lead in crisis; how to stay connected and engaged when you’re behind a computer screen all day; and how to stay productive and resilient which are critical skills for remote work.”

How have RI Bio classes helped the Institute?
“They have supported RIQI’s career development goals by providing opportunities to develop and enhance our staff’s skills, knowledge, and abilities to advance and be more successful in their roles. The tools they have learned help them swiftly navigate the day-to-day challenges that can take up so much of one’s time, providing more opportunity to focus on organizational and departmental goals.”

What have you enjoyed most?
“I absolutely love RI Bio’s HR Leaders Circle of Excellence roundtables and collaborating with other professionals. I enjoy connecting with others and hearing what my peers are experiencing and addressing. There is always a takeaway that I can then tailor and apply within my organization. The topics discussed thus far have focused on how we’re keeping our staff engaged and connected since the pandemic. As HR professionals and employers, we are experiencing tremendous change and we are faced with a whole new set of challenges. The roundtable brings us together to discuss these challenges and how best to navigate through them so we can be resilient and continue to foster a positive and engaged work environment for our teams. They’re only an hour long, and after the hour is up I want to keep going!”

What would you say to a friend in HR about RI Bio?
“I would say – if they are looking for an organization that can connect you with others within your space, that can provide networking opportunities, training and development opportunities, and that really takes the time to listen to you as an organization and understand what your challenges are – RI Bio is it. They are growing and becoming that go-to organization in the RI life sciences community. I truly value the relationship I have with RI Bio, and I know they have exciting new things on the horizon. I’m excited to see what they do next.”

“I absolutely love RI Bio’s HR Leaders Circle of Excellence roundtables…There is always a takeaway that I can then tailor and apply within my organization. We discuss challenges and how best to navigate through them so we can be resilient and continue to foster a positive and engaged work environment for our teams.”

Osasemwinhia Ogboghodo, M.D.

Osasemwinhia Ogboghodo, M.D.

Discovering a new job

As a medical student in the West Indies, Osasemwinhia Ogboghodo, M.D. fell in love with an American who visited the island for a wedding. They continued to date as he finished his degree and returned to his native Nigeria to practice medicine. Love proved stronger than medicine and he relocated to the United States when they got married. To practice as a foreign-trained physician, he must first take the U.S. Medical Licensing Exams and get certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign-Trained Medical Graduates, a process that can take up to two years. He learned about RI Bio’s Introduction to Biotechnology course through a friend of his wife’s. The course offered 6 modules of virtual training in sought-after skills from the URI Pharmacy Development Institute in the STEM fields, delved into current trends in biotechnology and connected graduates with employers through a virtual job fair.

READ OSASEMWINHIA'S STORY

What motivated you to take RI Bio’s Introduction to Biotechnology course?
I love acquiring knowledge and skills from new fields and improving myself. I felt the knowledge I would gain from this course would help me transition into a different field for now and give me more job opportunities while I study and earn my license to practice medicine in the U.S.

What did you learn?
As I was going through the course, I realized I didn’t know a lot about biotechnology especially as regards to agriculture and marine biotechnology. I was excited to learn new skills in Marine Biotechnology, especially as it relates to future drug development and vaccine development. I also learned skills for good laboratory practice in general, as well as packaging and quality control/assurance skills in a laboratory.

How did taking the course help you?
It gave me the opportunity to learn new skills and obtain entry level job opportunities in a completely different industry than I was used to. I also took the follow-up class, Developing Lab Skills, where I learned even more valuable skills such as batch documentation. I especially liked the video simulation classes, and I liked that you couldn’t move to the next level of the class if you don’t get the simulations right. I know I will be using these skills in my new job.

What was the outcome?
RI Bio held a job fair at the end of the course where I met people from several local companies, including Edesia, based in North Kingstown. They are a unique non-profit organization working to end malnutrition through manufacturing and distributing 1.5 million packets of specialized ready-to-use foods that saves lives. An Edesia Representative invited me to apply for jobs on their site, which I did, and they ended up offering me a position as a Quality Assurance Technician. I am absolutely excited to play my part in the Edesia Team. Martha Langer, Project Manager at RI Bio, also gave me good counsel in my application for the job which was very helpful.

Do you think you would have found the job without taking the RI Bio classes?
I don’t think so, I wouldn’t have known about the opening without the course and the job fair. And the classes helped me transition and apply for jobs in manufacturing production, something I hadn’t done before. I look forward to future RI Bio classes.

“The classes helped me transition and apply for jobs in manufacturing production, something I hadn’t done before. I look forward to future RI Bio classes.”

What’s your story?

If you’ve been impacted by an RI Bio class, event, or forum, let us know how we’ve helped you.