Mayor of Providence Brett P. Smiley is This Year’s Commencement Speaker

April 11, 2024

A portrait photo of Mayor Brett Smiley

We’re quickly closing in on Commencement for the Class of 2024, and we’re excited to share that Providence Mayor Brett P. Smiley will deliver this year’s Commencement address!

Mayor Smiley was elected as Providence’s 39th mayor in 2022 after serving in a number of key roles for the city and the state of Rhode Island. He was the first chief operating officer for the City of Providence, chief of staff to former Governor Gina Raimondo P’25, and Rhode Island’s director of administration. In these roles, he helped to expand early education and childcare programs, make community college free for all high school graduates, and guide the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Wheeler School’s commitment to nurturing confidence, self-awareness, and leadership prepares students to become thoughtful, curious, and active community leaders. I am excited to meet this year’s graduating class and address them at the Commencement ceremony this year,” says Mayor Smiley. “The educational journey of these students embodies our city’s values – learning by doing, collaborating, and exploring new horizons. I look forward to celebrating their achievements and hope to inspire them to continue making a positive impact in our community and beyond.”

Mayor Smiley speaks of that positive impact from experience; outside of office, he has been active over the years with several nonprofits, community groups, and causes, including Planned Parenthood, Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI), Rhode Island Housing, Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts (RICARES), and the national Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

He is a graduate of DePaul University, where he received a finance degree and an M.B.A, and he and his husband, Jim DeRentis, are avid runners who share a deep love for Providence.

“We are thrilled that Mayor Smiley will be this year’s Commencement speaker,” says Head of School Allison Gaines Pell P’23, P’25. “We always aim to bring speakers who can inspire our students through the ways they have lived out our mission, ‘to learn our powers and be answerable for their use,’ and his experiences in life and working on behalf of Providence and Rhode Island’s communities certainly fit this bill. We look forward to hearing his story and his words of advice to the Class of 2024.”

Mayor Smiley will join us in celebrating the Class of 2024 at Wheeler’s 135th Commencement on Friday, June 14 at Wheeler Farm. For more information, please visit the Commencement 2024 website.

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