Meet Our Team

Want to get involved? Have an idea and looking to collaborate?

Contact a member of our team below.

Emily Pearce-Spence

Program Director

(401) 253-1611


Emily comes to the Bristol Health Equity Zone with years of experience working directly in the Bristol community, first as the Program Manager with the Parents As Teachers program, and also as the co-founder of the Bristol Warren Thrive by Five and Beyond.  Emily currently serves on the boards of Friends of Rogers Free Library, as well as the Rhode Island Association of Infant Mental Health.  Emily is a long-time resident of Bristol.

Craig Pereira 

Fiscal Director

Horsley Witten Group, Inc.

(401) 272-1717

Craig is a Senior Planner with the Horsley Witten Group and has experience with several statewide public health initiatives, most recently the Healthy Places by Design projects in North Kingstown and Pawtucket.  Craig has also worked with the Town of Bristol on numerous municipal projects and has a comprehensive understanding of the community.

Melissa Goldstein 

Coordinator | Substance Use, Awareness, & Prevention Champion

(401) 253-1611

Melissa Goldstein is thrilled to join the Bristol Health Equity Zone team and is excited to get more involved with her community. Melissa has worked in the field of Special Education for over 25 years. She has been a teacher and a school administrator and is passionate about working collaboratively to help others. Melissa is a volunteer for the local community theaters and is on the Board of Directors for the Bristol Warren Education Foundation. Her other interests include going on adventures with her family and friends, being active outdoors and watching her children enjoy their passions of sports, theater and dance. Melissa, her husband and three children reside in Bristol.

Katie Blais

Food & Nutrition Working Group Champion

Katie believes that access to healthy and local food for all is the key to building and maintaining a vibrant community. Katie has a background in Digital Marketing, Project Management, and Client Services and loves being able to use these skills to help local nonprofits and small businesses. On Saturdays you can find Katie at the Mount Hope Farm Farmer's Market where she manages the market and facilitates the Fresh Bucks program which allows SNAP participants to double their dollars for fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits. Katie lives just over the bridge in Portsmouth with her husband and two young sons.

Samantha Capacillo, MPH

Physical Activity Working Group Champion

Despite growing up in the United States Air Force where she moved around often, Samantha Capacillo has always called Rhode Island her home. Samantha has a background in nutrition and public health, previously working as a health educator in the Greater Tampa Bay area where she facilitated classes on diabetes management, nutrition, and fitness. Samantha currently resides in Warren with her husband and two little girls.  

Kate Hawley

Personal Health & Mental Wellness Working Group Champion

Kate Hawley has worked as a mental health ally for 25 years in a variety settings as a group facilitator, program developer and manager, and grant writer. She currently is consultant, and yoga therapist and teacher.

Backbone Agency:

Town of Bristol Parks & Recreation Department

Department of Health Project Staff:

Sarah Klein

Director of Bristol Parks and Recreation

Town of Bristol

(401) 253-1611 

Tim Shaw

Acting Director of Bristol Parks and Recreation

Town of Bristol

(401) 253-1611 

Mia Patriarca, MA

Healthy Communities Specialist (HEZ Project Officer)

Rhode Island Department of Health

(401) 222-1225

Kristi Paiva, MPH

Public Health Evaluator

Rhode Island Department of Health

(401) 222-1250