Courtney Hawkins, Chairperson

Courtney Hawkins serves as Chief Operating Officer for Mayor Brett P. Smiley where she oversees City operations with the goal of ensuring Providence becomes the best run city in America.  Prior to joining the Smiley Administration, Hawkins worked for Salesforce as an Industry Executive where she worked with all levels of government to implement health and human service technology tools that improve their services. Prior to taking this role in 2021, Hawkins was the Director for the Rhode Island’s Department of Human Services.  In her time as DHS Director, she was committed to ensuring that all vulnerable families and individuals had a chance to make economic progress. She oversaw all of the State’s public benefit programs as well as the divisions that handle child support enforcement and vocational rehabilitation for individuals with disabilities. During her tenure she implemented improvements in staff development, oversaw the turnaround of the state’s integrated eligibility implementation, improved customer service and shepherded major policy and procedural improvements to the State’s child care aid and cash assistance programs. Additionally, Hawkins was tapped by then Governor Raimondo as part of the state’s COVID-19 response leadership team.

Hawkins started her career in New York City where she implemented non-profit programs to support kids and families to make economic progress.  This included starting successful small schools, designing programs for youth aging out of foster care, implementing new initiatives targeting disconnected youth and running the city’s welfare to work and unemployment centers in the Bronx and Manhattan.

The Rhode Island native returned to RI as the first executive director of Providence Talks, a successful program, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, designed to reduce language development gaps in low-income children. Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza later made her his Policy Director.