With a record-breaking influx of women running for office nationwide, Rhode Island is no exception. Warren Town Council President Keri Cronin is the first woman to serve in the leadership position in the town’s history. Warren also boasts a female town manager, finance director and school committee chairwoman.
A Southern California native, Cronin moved to New England to attend Emerson College and has made it home ever since. When her daughter was young, Cronin and her family moved from Boston to Barrington, where she served on the PTO and later on the Board of Canvassers. Cronin credits her early interest in politics to her Barrington neighbor and former Town Council President June Speakman and seeing the democratic process first-hand, working at the polls.
Cronin opened DISH, a women’s boutique in Warren that specializes in eco-friendly and ethically made clothing, local artisan jewelry and accessories, with her mother Sara in early 2003; she credits her business as the way she got to know people in Warren. Through her involvement as a trustee on the Warren Preservation Society, board member of the Bristol Warren Education Foundation, founding member of Warren Heritage Foundation, and co-chair of Discover Warren with fellow entrepreneur Katie Dickson, Cronin made lasting relationships with neighbors, local business owners, and members of the community.
Cronin eventually moved to downtown Warren and was persuaded to run for town council in 2014, missing out on a seat by only a few points. She continued to stay involved in the community and grow her business, and in 2016, Cronin won and was elected to Warren Town Council. Two years later she became the council’s first female president.
“I really enjoy it. It’s been a learning experience-- I’ve been an ‘armchair’ learner of local governance thanks to the relationships I have with people in public service” says President Cronin.
As a self-proclaimed “meeting nerd”, Cronin went to council, planning and zoning meetings “watching it all happen” to understand how the process works. Her advice to those who want to run is the same: get involved and see how it all works and fits together in your community.
Even with the history-making change, Cronin realizes there is still a lot of work to be done, and progress to be made to have more representation and diversity on the Town Council. Until then, she’s moving forward.