Rele Abiade likes to say that she has been a background singer to US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse dating back to his days when he was running for governor of Rhode Island.
Now she’s ready to take center stage.
The Classical High School and Providence College graduate is leaving her job as Whitehouse’s deputy state director to launch One Rhode Consulting, a firm that will specialize in developing mission-driven strategies for businesses, nonprofits, and governments.
Abiade’s new shop will focus on encouraging clients to build authentic relationships in the communities they want to serve, with an emphasis on collaboration and communication that goes far beyond the bare minimum.
She’s already signed a few clients, including the Partnership for Rhode Island and Justice Assistance Rhode Island, a nonprofit that supports both victims of crimes and seeks to ensure that ex-offenders can still lead productive lives.
Abiade’s deep understanding of the federal grant process – “I’m a research nerd,” she jokes – will be a key component of her consulting work, but she said that she also wants to raise the profile of other people of color in Rhode Island.
”I was happy to be the person in the room, but I want to create the pathway for more people of color to be in the room,” Abiade said.
Abiade plans to work from the CIC in Providence (where the Globe also has office space) and the Social Enterprise Greenhouse as she builds her firm.
She acknowledged that her departure from Whitehouse’s office is bittersweet. She loved working for senator because “we have the same kind of energy,” but she is excited to break out on her own.
”Can you believe I can tell the truth about how Congress works?” she said, laughing.
This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, data about the coronavirus in the state, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.