Press Release

For Immediate Release

Lincoln, Rhode Island (February 3, 2014) – At the Northern Rhode Island (NRI) Chamber of Commerce’s 23rd Annual Dinner, two Northern Rhode Island leaders will be recognized for their outstanding contributions to their communities. The Honorable Donald Grebien, Mayor of the City of Pawtucket, will receive the Barbara C. Burlingame Award, and Thomas V. Ward, Publisher of the Valley Breeze, will be recognized with the Ben G. Mondor Award.  The NRI Chamber’s 23rd Annual Dinner is being held on Tuesday, February 11th from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 pm at the Twin River Event Center, 100 Twin River Road in Lincoln.

Honoring the memory of state legislator and former Chamber Vice President Barbara C. Burlingame, this award recognizes a Rhode Island elected official who has made outstanding contributions to the business community, and who exhibits the highest standards of excellence, dedication, and accomplishment in public service.  Mayor Grebien of Pawtucket is currently serving his second term as mayor after serving eleven years on the City Council, including as council president.  Despite inheriting a $12 million operating deficit, Mayor Grebien has partnered with the business community to effectuate meaningful change throughout the city.

Mayor Grebien has worked to successfully transition a long neglected city transfer station into a revenue producer; introduced automated recycling while also saving taxpayer dollars; boosted the Fire and Police departments with new equipment and additional public safety personnel while containing costs; initiated a major citywide road repaving project; and brought forward new proposals for commercial riverfront development.  Mayor Grebien served on the Governor’s Municipal Shared Services Task Force, is an Executive Board member of the R.I. League of Cities and Towns, chairs the Municipal Advisory Council on Statewide Permitting, and serves on the boards of the Pawtucket Boys & Girls Club, the Pawtucket Family YMCA, and Pawtucket Foundation.

The Ben G. Mondor Award is presented annually to honor a Chamber member who demonstrates the steadfast commitment to philanthropy emulated by Ben Mondor, the belated long-time owner of the Pawtucket Red Sox.  Thomas V. Ward, of Cumberland, founded the Valley Breeze 18 years ago and presently distributes more than 68,000 newspapers weekly throughout Northern Rhode Island.  Mr. Ward, through the Valley Breeze newspapers, participates in numerous community service initiatives, including: donating more than $50,000 to local families through the Valley Breeze “Birthday Club,” organizing and participating in “Yellow Bag Day” for neighborhood beautification, sponsoring the annual “Scouting for Food Drive,” serving as the primary sponsor of the Rhode Island State Spelling Bee, and having hosted Christmas concerts at The Stadium Theatre.

Mr. Ward is a 10-year member and past president of the Rotary Club of Cumberland-Lincoln and is also a Paul Harris Fellow. He was honored as Grand Marshal of both the Arnold Mills Fourth of July Parade in Cumberland (2008) and the Autumnfest Parade in Woonsocket (2011).

“We are pleased to recognize the tremendous service of Mayor Don Grebien and Tom Ward,” said John Gregory, President/CEO of the NRI Chamber.  “These men are truly dedicated to improving their communities and respect the important contributions made by local businesses.  Their leadership skills coupled with their passion for public service are the characteristics needed to keep our State moving in the right direction.”

For additional information on this event and to register online, visit the Chamber’s website at or call the office at 401-334-1000.

About the Northern Rhode Island Chamber

The Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of businesses in the communities of Burrillville, Central Falls, Cumberland, Glocester, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Smithfield and Woonsocket. The NRI Chamber leads the Chamber of Commerce Coalition, representing 11 area chambers of commerce and more than 6,500 businesses and 70,000 employees statewide.  For more information about the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, call (401)-334-1000 or visit