Dorrie Napoleone, President, ’21

Dorrie was elected President of the Block Island Conservancy in 2018.  She had served as a Vice President of the organization since October 2017.

Dorrie first sailed to Block Island in 1987 along with her husband Jim.

Together with family, they summered on their sailboat in the Great Salt Pond and frequented Block Island in the off season before purchasing their home in 1999.   

Although full time residents since 2001, Dorrie often traveled back to New York where she worked at Montefiore Medical Center as Director of Clinical Information Technology.    Prior to that she worked near where she grew up in Boston at Beth Israel Deaconess and Children’s Hospital as a Medical Technologist in Hematology.      

Since moving to Block Island, she has served on the board of BIRA, and as Coordinator for the Farmers Market.  She also currently serves as the Treasurer for the Block Island Arts and Crafts Guild.   

From the moment she came to Block Island, Dorrie fell in love with the natural beauty and unspoiled landscape.   

In these contentious times when much of the country seems so divided on so many important issues like climate change, she would like to focus her energy here, helping to preserve and protect our beautiful island.

Jim McCormick, Vice President, ’22

Jim moved to Block Island full time three years ago from Manchester, CT. He married his wife Roberta on the island in 1974 and together they raised their three children; Brandon, Darren and Kelly. Roberta and the kids spent their summers on the island and Jim commuted during weekends and vacations for over 40 years.

The majority of Jim’s career was in the banking industry where he held various positions. In the later part of his career he was a project manager in the Operations, Technology, Process Improvement, and Treasury Management areas of the bank. After retiring from Bank of America, Jim worked in the health care industry where he held positions as a Business Director and IT Implementation Manager.  

Jim enjoys gardening, biking and walking the beach and trails of Block Island and looks forward to working with the members of the Block Island Conservancy to continue to protect and preserve the open space on the Island.

Robert Benjamin, Treasurer, ’25

Bob’s ties to Block Island come through his wife Carolyn whose family has been connected to the island since her grandfather bought a home on Spring Street in the 1940s. Carolyn introduced Bob to the Island in the 80s and they visited as often as possible until purchasing a home on the island in 2009.

Born in Massachusetts, Bob went to school in Philadelphia, raised his family in Connecticut, and is now a proud Rhode Islander. Carolyn and Bob have three married daughters in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and will have four grandchildren as of September 2022.

Bob retired in 2021 from a 20 year career in teaching that followed an 18 year career in banking. Retirement is giving him an opportunity to use his mathematical, financial, and technology skills to support worthy causes, rather than just ranting about his frustrations with the problems of the world. Loving our beautiful island so deeply and knowing how much work is needed to preserve it, Bob grateful to be able to help support the work of the conservancy.

Laurel Littlefield ’22

Laurel’s grandfather attended school on Block Island and purchased a home here following World War II. Laurel spent her summers as a child vacationing and working on the island. She then moved to Block Island full-time in 1992 after graduating from Randolph-Macon College in Virginia. She has raised and graduated two children from the Block Island School and has a third currently attending.

After working as the Director of the Block Island Early Learning Center for six years, she moved to the real estate profession and currently works for Ballard Hall Real Estate. In the past, she has been an active member of the Block Island Volunteer Fire & Rescue Ladies Auxiliary and ran the Tuesday night BINGO fundraiser for a few years.

Laurel has greatly enjoyed hiking and exploring all the trails and open space with her three children and lab, “Max”, and is now so pleased to be part of an organization that helps protect and preserve these places.

Marti Dunne, Secretary, ’21

Having grown up on Long Island, ocean communities have always been special to Marti. As a family, they tried beach vacations in the Hamptons, on the Cape, on the Vineyard, and finally in 1993, they discovered Block Island and never again chose anywhere else. In 2011, they were lucky enough to find a house to purchase and although they can only use it 3 days a week because of work, they enjoy the Island all year around.

The importance of conservation was made clear to Marti at a young age as she watched the Great South Bay become polluted, the farms disappear from her hometown and the empty space become consumed by development. One of the things that drew her to Block Island was the determination of its residents to preserve its natural beauty and open space.

When she is not on Block Island, she works as an Associate Vice Provost at New York University in the area of Research Compliance, overseeing the offices which support its faculty doing research. She is on the Board of Directors of the Council of Governmental Relations, an organization composed of the nation’s major research institutions and has also served on the Board of the National Council of University Research Administrators.

She is excited to contribute to the preservation of the things she loves best about Block Island and giving back to the community which provides her with so much enjoyment.

Nigel Grindley, Stewardship Director, ’21

Nigel, with his wife Cathy and their young son Sandy, first visited Block Island in 1988 while on a camping trip in coastal Rhode Island. It was love at first sight and the beginning of a series of annual family trips culminating in the purchase of their own home in 1997.

In 2012, Nigel and Cathy retired after 32 years of research and teaching in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University and moved full time to the island. Although a molecular biologist by profession, Nigel has embraced field-based studies since his retirement and become a strong supporter of, and active participant in, citizen science.

Lovers of nature, hiking, wildlife and the great outdoors, Nigel and Cathy joined Adrian’s Army to help maintain the trails they so enjoyed, volunteered with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor Piping Plovers and American Oystercatchers and their nests, and with Kim Gaffett and Project Limulus to survey horseshoe crabs in the Great Salt Pond. Nigel is currently engaged in a project to document the moth population of Block Island (with summer resident Aaron Hunt, and the enthusiastic support of The Nature Conservancy and the USF&WS).

Well aware of the fragility of the island and the existential threat of climate change and sea level rise, Nigel and Cathy are members of a team (led by Professor Bryan Oakley from Eastern Connecticut State University) that has been measuring dune and beach profiles around the island to determine the extent of erosion and regeneration ever since Superstorm Sandy.

Mary Cerulli, ’23

Working in financial services for 20 years in Manhattan and Boston, Mary now finds herself back at her roots, as a geologist and nature lover turned environmental activist. A fortuitous turn happened the summer of 2014 when she volunteered at The Nature Conservancy on Block Island. Field work on the Great Salt Pond is one of her favorite activities. Mary has been coming to Block Island since 1978, the first time as a crew member aboard a NY42 for Block Island Race Week. Mary’s husband, Kurt and their three daughters plus Mickey the dog treasure Block Island.

Mary, a firm believer in grassroots action, co-founded Climate Finance Action a non-profit that is dedicated to moving decision makers in the finance sector to transition justly away from fossil fuel and deforestation companies.

Bill Comings ’22

Bill has been coming to the Island summers since he was an infant. He and his wife, Margie, built a cottage in the early 1970’s so sons Scott and Doug could have the experience of summers on Block Island while growing up. After Bill retired from a career in apartment development and finance in the Washington DC area, he and Margie became full time Island residents in 2005. Bill is a graduate of Dartmouth College.  From October 2013 to late March 2018 Bill served as President of BIC.  He has been an officer and director of BIC since 2010.

Seth Draper, ’22

Seth Draper is thirty two years old and is from Block Island.  He grew up on Block Island, attending the Block Island School from kindergarten through graduation.  Following school, his passions for the outdoors, culture and travel brought him to many countries.  He now spends his winters in Costa Rica and summers on Block Island.  His love of both communities focus on conservation and the importance of our natural resources and a warm sense of community.

 While on Block Island he started a landscape/excavation business, providing everything from lawn care to driveways and stone patios.  More recently he is re-focusing his energies to help with his family businesses – The 1661 Inn, The Oar and the Narragansett.  He has taken on the responsibility of continuing the legacy of his grandfather’s garden and exotic animal farm at The 1661 Inn. 

 He has joined the Block Island Conservancy board to continue the preservation of Block Island and to retain a healthy balance between human development and nature.  He is looking forward to working with this leading organization with both fundraising and landscape maintenance and development to improve Block Island’s unique beauty.

Matt Fastuca, ’22

Matt Fastuca is a classically trained horticulturist with a strong affinity for botany and the natural sciences.  Born in Louisiana and raised on Long Island, he was drawn to the ocean and coastal landscapes from a young age. Matt came to Block Island in 2009 after taking environmental science courses at the University of Rhode Island.  Since then, he has remained a part-time resident, working several years for Turtle at Islandscape before starting his garden-service business, Maritima LLC.  In 2017, he received a Diploma in Horticulture from the School of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden, where he studied plant sciences and ecosystems, and completed thousands of hours of fieldwork to back up his studies.  At present, he is eager to help preserve and maintain the unique landscapes and ecosystems that Block Island holds. You can find him any day out in the field or surfing in the water.

Heather Hatfield, ’23

I grew up in New Jersey but headed to Rhode Island after high school drawn by the promise of “Hope” on the flag. My first trip to Block Island in 1993 was as a day tripper but turned into a summer and fall of washing dishes. It was this serendipitous beginning that started my lifelong love of the island. While traveling around the country I continued to return to Block Island. I’ve now called the island home for twenty years. My husband Turtle and I are raising our boys Blaize and Chase to love and appreciate the island as much as we do. I’m lucky to work as a gardener which allows me to enjoy the outdoors and the beauty of the island full time. In my free time you can find me walking the trails, looking at birds, relaxing on the beach or trying to sneak in an off island adventure.

Rosemary Tobin, ’23

Rosemary Tobin came to Block Island in November of 1997; she was here for a short visit but quickly fell in love with the Island and its people. She grew up outside of Washington DC in Rockville, Maryland, and attended college in Boca Raton, Florida at Florida Atlantic University. After college, she worked as a lobbyist led her to Chicago, Illinois. After eight years of working in the political arena she decided to simplify her life and leave Chicago to travel. Her travels ended here on Block Island. Rosemary lives with her husband, son, and two dogs, Lola and Sugar. She has successfully worked as a real estate agent for the last 11 years, and works for Lila Delman. In the summer, you can find her behind the bar at Eli’s.

Meg Vitacco, ’23

Meg grew up in Augusta, Georgia, moved to New York City to attend college, and lived there for almost a decade. Meg has lived on Block Island year round since 2012.  She shares a home with her partner (in both life and business) Josh, and their six year old puppy, Radar.  The three of them own and operate MUTT HUT, Block Island’s general store for dogs.