Mary Madden has been the president and CEO of the J. Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center for nine years, but tomorrow she’ll step down from her leadership position to pursue other goals. Madden will be going back to school in the fall to earn her master’s degree from Rhode Island College. She plans on studying social work, policy and advocacy, and also plans on starting her own consulting firm.
“It will flow continuously to the next stage of my career,” she said. “I’ve been involved in this career now for 33 years and I’m finding new ways to use my skills and experience.”
Taking her place at the helm of Trudeau will be Don Armstrong, a 12-year board member and parent of a client at the center.
Armstrong’s relationship with the Trudeau center goes back even further than his daughter’s connection. Back in high school, Armstrong was friends with J. Arthur Trudeau’s son, Don.
“I knew them before [the center] was started,” he said. “I knew them in 1963 and Trudeau was started in 1965.”
Despite his history, Armstrong never thought he would be asked to run Trudeau. So when the board asked him to take over as president and CEO, he initially declined.
“I wanted a real search to be done,” he said. The board complied.
After conducting a search for another potential candidate, the board approached Armstrong again. This time, he said yes.
Three weeks ago, Armstrong officially assumed his role, working closely with Madden during the transition.
“She’s a wonderful person,” he said. “She’s done a great job at managing Trudeau. She’s a consummate professional.”
Madden first began working at in the direct support department of Trudeau right out of college in 1979. She worked there for nine years, and then left to become the executive director of OSARR (Ocean State Association of Residential Resources) for 15 years. She returned to Trudeau as president and CEO nine years ago.
Madden said the transition into her new career and education path will be bittersweet, and she’ll miss staff and clients she’s formed close bonds with. She also said she’ll miss being part of the close-knit Warwick community.
Madden said she and Trudeau have had a great relationship with Mayor Scott Avedisian and the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce. She is also delighted to have been a part of Warwick 13, an organization of 13 non-profits in the city.
Although she’ll be moving on to new things, Madden said she’s still deeply invested in the future of Trudeau.
With the recent budget cuts that slashed $24 million in funding for agencies that work with the developmentally disabled, Madden thinks it’s the perfect time for change.
“When there’s a new CEO, you can implement some new ideas,” she said.
Armstrong has an extensive background in finance, which is part of the reason why the board looked to him to take over Trudeau.
After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Bryant University, Armstrong began a long career with Fleet National Bank and Bank of America. He worked in Fleet’s management training program and evolved from branch manager to senior vice president of consumer lending. Armstrong’s last position with Bank of America was president and CEO of Fleet Mortgage. After leaving Bank of America in 2006, Armstrong formed Armstrong Financial Associates, which provided corporate strategic planning and business consulting services. He worked for his own company up until the time he was offered his new position at Trudeau.
Madden said it made sense, given the financial challenges, to have someone of Armstrong’s background.
“He brings many years of leadership experience,” she said. “And I’m a big proponent of change. There’s opportunity in change.”
“What we’re facing are … detrimental financial cuts,” he said. Armstrong is looking to find additional sources of revenue to help offset those cuts, and is aiming to expand beyond state and federal financing in order to continue to provide a high level of service to clients.
“We’re going to be looking at fundraising activities,” he said. “We need to expand our charitable partners and the number of them, and I’ll be doing that for sure.”
Madden said another benefit to having Armstrong as president and CEO is his role as a parent of Beth, a 20-year Trudeau client.
“For there to be a parent at the helm of the agency is really important,” she said. “It models our values to have family members involved.”
So what does Beth make of her dad stepping up to be CEO?
“Beth is so proud,” Armstrong said.