About Conanicut Strategies

Conanicut Strategies offers consulting services to mission-driven clients at the intersections of strategy, public affairs, policy development, planning and communications.

Founded and led by Marisa A. Quinn, a 20-year veteran of Brown University with experience in public and non-profit sectors, the firm’s areas of expertise include higher education leadership, communication, policy and administration.

Supporting Successful Leaders

Perhaps more than ever before, the world needs creative, open, ethical and effective leaders who can navigate increasingly complex organizations with multiple constituencies and competing internal and external demands. Expectations are high for recently appointed leaders, who often arrive in a new environment complete with distinct customs, cultures and even vocabulary. The rapid pace of communications ensures that news – and early impressions - travel fast. Developing a comprehensive, integrated plan that considers a wide range of factors – from essential resource capacity needs and organizational decision-making structure, to individual and institutional values, constituent engagement, public relations and strategic communications – is fundamental.

Marisa Quinn established Conanicut Strategies to bring the knowledge and skills she’s honed through a career shaped by senior roles working alongside public and non-profit sector trailblazers to support effective leadership. As a thought partner and trusted advisor, Marisa guides the planning and execution of strategic blueprints for early leadership action and impact.

Conanicut Strategies works with clients to understand the terrain and context that accompanies a new leader’s role, including the community, governance and organizational structures, core values, traditions and – importantly - potential tripwires.

The Right Work, The Right Way

Leaders and their teams are called upon to set ambitious agendas for change and to drive progress. And we know that having good ideas alone is not sufficient – how ideas are developed and acted upon is as important: Process matters. Inclusion matters. Whether it’s  crafting a long-term institutional strategic vision or advancing a more discrete project, getting from point A to point B is not always a straight line. Thoughtful planning undergirded by purposeful communications that engages key constituencies is central to doing the right work the right way.

From developing (or eliminating) campus-based programs to building support for expansive public-private partnerships through coordinated government, public and media relations efforts, Marisa has a proven track record of strong planning, critical attention to diversity, equity and inclusion, thoughtful communication and community engagement, and successful outcomes.

"Conanicut is the name of the breathtakingly beautiful island in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay where I grew up, raised my family, and where I live and work today,” explained Marisa. “In addition to being a grounding source of inspiration, living on an island provides valuable lessons for thoughtful leaders: How and when to make a splash, calm the waters or contend with crashing waves, as well as the significance of building bridges that withstand any storm.”

About Marisa A. Quinn

Marisa brings decades of experience in the public and non-profit sectors, focusing primarily on higher education policy, communications and public affairs. She spent 22 years at Brown University, serving in a variety of roles that ultimately supported the effective leadership of the University’s most senior officers, including as assistant to President Ruth J. Simmons, vice president for public affairs and university, and most recently as chief of staff to Provost Richard M. Locke.

Inspired to support creative and empowering innovative leaders, in August 2021, Marisa launched Conanicut Strategies, LLC, a consulting practice serving mission-driven institutions and their leaders in the intersecting areas of strategy, public affairs, policy development, strategic planning and communications.

Marisa began her career as a legislative aide to US Senator Claiborne Pell on the Subcommittee on Education, Arts and the Humanities.  She subsequently served as policy advisor to New Jersey Governor James J. Florio; public affairs specialist at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and chief of communications and public information at the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  She graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a bachelor’s degree in political science and earned a master’s degree from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.  She is currently chair of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission and a board member of Trinity Repertory Company.

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