Press Release

R.I. Infrastructure Bank Welcomes Vahid Ownjazayeri as New Board Chair, Thanks Outgoing Chair Merrill Sherman for Her Years of Service

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February 11, 2021

Press Release

PROVIDENCE, R.I. –Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (Bank) today announced that infrastructure expert and respected business leader Vahid Ownjazayeri will serve as new Board Chair, taking over for outgoing Chair Merrill Sherman after six years of service to the Bank.

“The Infrastructure Bank is pleased to welcome Vahid Ownjazayeri as our new Board Chair,” said Jeffrey R. Diehl, CEO. “Vahid’s years of experience at Global Infrastructure Solutions Inc., AECOM, and the Shaw Group in the planning, financing, and construction of major environmental and transportation infrastructure projects will be a tremendous resource as we work to meet the infrastructure financing needs of Rhode Island’s municipalities and commercial property owners.”

Continued Diehl, “I also want to thank Merrill Sherman for her six years of service to the Infrastructure Bank. Thanks to her leadership, counsel, and strategic vision, we have transformed the Bank into a 21st century organization focused on solving the infrastructure investment needs of our communities.  Under her tutelage, we have expanded our lending programs by $700 million, and saved our customers $149 million in lower interest and energy costs, while creating and supporting over 16,000 jobs. Merrill’s decades of experience in finance and banking have been invaluable. She has been a truly dedicated Board member, a mentor and a friend, and we thank her for her service to the Infrastructure bank.”

Vahid Ownjazayeri of Providence is a Managing Director at Global Infrastructure Solutions Inc. He previously served as President of AECOM’s Global Infrastructure Business, and then as its Chief Growth and Strategy officer. Prior to that he was the President of the Commercial, State, and Local division of The Shaw Group. He holds a Master's degree in structural engineering and a Bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Northeastern University.

“The Bank is doing absolutely critical work to ensure that Rhode Island’s cities and towns have the project management and financing tools they need to invest in infrastructure projects that increase resiliency, while also creating good-paying construction jobs,” said Ownjazayeri. “I look forward to sharing my experience so the Bank can continue to grow and fulfill its mission to support and finance investments in Rhode Island’s infrastructure. I would like to thank Merrill Sherman for her service dedicated to the Bank and her work to champion this organization through six years of growth. I look forward to building off of her momentum and important work."

“Serving as Board Chair for the past six years, I am proud to have helped guide the growth and continued success of the Bank’s many infrastructure financing programs that are making our communities more resilient, more energy efficient, and creating construction and green economy jobs that contribute to the Rhode Island economy,” said Merrill Sherman. “Rhode Island still has much work to do to build, repair, and preserve critical transportation, water, clean energy and resiliency infrastructure projects. I am confident the Infrastructure Bank, under the leadership of Vahid Ownjazayeri as Board Chair and Jeff Diehl as CEO, will be there to assist our municipalities finance these much-needed investments.”

About Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank:

Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank is Rhode Island’s central hub for financing infrastructure improvements for municipalities, businesses, and homeowners. We leverage capital in a revolving fund to offer innovative financing for an array of infrastructure-based projects including water and wastewater, road and bridge, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and brownfield remediation. These quality of life projects improve the State’s infrastructure, create jobs, promote economic development and enhance the environment. For more information, please visit www.riib.org.