2022 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner Profile

Congratulations to the 2022 Recipients of the Ponaganset Distinguished Alumni Award:

Gordon Brayton - class of 1979
As an undergraduate Gordon co-designed and built the now iconic Ponaganset High School Sign. This sign is still beautiful and has remained standing for more than 40 years.

Only five years after Graduating from Ponaganset High School he was elected President of South Foster Fire Department. He has served in this role for more than 35 years and continues in that position today, which is a testimony to his unwavering dedication and energy.

He is the owner and proprietor of Scituate Lumber. After working in the field for years he purchased the business. Under his leadership it has grown from a small lumber yard to a company that supplies products all over New England.

Gordan is a life-long learner, outdoorsman, and has served the community throughout his life. In addition to his role as a member of the South Foster Fire Department, he serves on the Foster School District Safety Team which develops the district’s safety plans and procedures.

Gordon was selected as a Fireman of the year. This is a coveted and hard-earned honor, one he richly deserves. He has been a mentor and supporter of many young volunteers at the South Foster Fire Department.

He was an active member of the boy scouts and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

David O. Cipoletta — class of 2009

At only 31 years old David has achieved quite a bit!

He earned 3 simultaneous undergraduate degrees from URI in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Engineering. He continued to earn a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering.

In 2016 David co-founded and assumed the role of CTO at Pison Technology, a company that combines biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and human interface technologies to establish an applied nerve-sensing and insights platform that can be applied in AR manipulation and control, robotics control, factory machinery control, smart phone control, smart home control, audio assistant control, etc.

The hand gesture interpretation technology was initially developed to help people with ALS to use finger movements to move a mouse pointer on a computer screen. After succeeding with this application the military asked him to apply this technology to produce hand hand-free manipulation of drones and robots.

David has been awarded 8 patents covering the technology that makes gesture interpretation possible.

Elwood Hopkins  - class of 1986

As a Presidential Fellow of the Kresge Foundation, Elwood is working on a national strategy to enable residents in gentrifying neighborhoods to have an ownership stake in the rising property values. For 15 years, was the Founder, President, and Managing Director of Emerging Markets, Inc. — a consulting firm that helped banks and supermarket operators to profitably expand retail operations into low-income neighborhoods nationwide.

After graduation from Ponaganset, Elwood earned a BA from Harvard, magna cum laude, and an MA from the UCLA School of Public Affairs where he was the valedictorian and now serves as a Senior Fellow.

He has worked with the Aspen Institute, the Brookings Institution, the Urban Institute and other think tanks concerned with urban policy issues and also lecturing at numerous colleges (University of Chicago, Harvard Kennedy School, and MIT).

Additionally, Elwood helped the Educational Theatre Foundation establish the Pathway pilot program in memory of his late husband, Craig Zadan. Through the Pathway Fund for Racial Equality in School Theatre, Elwood and the Educational Theatre Foundation support low-income communities of color by funding these schools’ productions of plays and musicals that reflect diverse stories and by bringing successful working industry professionals of all races to act as mentors to the students.

Applications for 2023 must be submitted by May 1, 2023.

Application forms may be found on the Foster-Glocester Regional School District  web page, or by calling the Superintendent’s office at 401-710-7568. Updated information on previously nominated candidates is encouraged and welcomed.
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