Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D) represents District 21 in Warwick. She was first elected in November 2016. She is the chair of the House Conduct Committee. Representative Vella-Wilkinson is a member of the House Finance Committee and chairs its Public Safety Subcommittee. She is also a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
During the most recent legislative session, her longtime advocacy for
exempting military pensions from taxation became law due to a provision in the FY 2023 state budget. She also sponsored a new law that provides health care coverage for
laparoscopic removal of uterine fibroids, which are a noncancerous growth that appear in the uterus usually during childbearing years.
In 2021, she sponsored a new law that extends
property tax exemptions to veterans who served in uniform during the Cold War, between 1947 through 1991, even if they did not serve in a declared war or conflict. She also sponsored a law to permit Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
to hold meetings during a declared disaster emergency.
In 2020, she sponsored legislation that created the
Ocean State Climate Adaptation and Resilience Fund, which enables cities, towns and the state to apply for grants to fund projects that restore and improve the climate resilience of vulnerable coastal habitats, as well as river and stream floodplains with priority to projects that improve community resilience and public safety.
In 2019, she sponsored a law that
extends veterans’ benefits to gay or transgender members of the armed forces who failed to receive honorable discharges.
During the 2018 session, she introduced
two veterans-related bills that were signed into law. The first directs the Department of Education to utilize the federal Troops to Teachers program, and further provides that the implementation of the program would be contingent on federal funding. The second measure, the Military Property Tax Exemption bill, eliminates the requirement for a veteran to have achieved a Campaign Ribbon or Expeditionary Medal to qualify for state veterans benefits.
Also in 2018, she graduated from the Eastern Leadership Academy, a fellowship program designed to enhance the leadership abilities of state officials from all three branches of government. The fellowship took place at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
In 2017 she began an annual veterans’ outreach program at the State House, affording veterans the opportunity to meet their legislators and learn of the various programs available to them. For her efforts, the Rhode Island Veterans of Foreign Wars presented her with its 2018 Legislative Award.
Before being elected state representative, Vella-Wilkinson served three terms on the Warwick City Council, from 2011 to 2016, with two terms as finance chairwoman. She was state commissioner on the Rhode Island Commission for Human Relations from 1999 to 2016. She has also served as the City of Warwick Veterans liaison from 2011 to 2016.
In 2016, she was honored with the Legislator of the Year award from the Disabled American Veterans, the YMCA Woman of Achievement award, and the American Legion Post 43 Auxiliary Female Veteran of the Year award.
She is an alumna of the URI Schmidt Labor Research Center and Leadership Rhode Island (2006), a member of American Legion Post 43, Military Officers Association of America, and St. Benedict’s Daughters of Isabella Circle 423.
A retired Navy officer, she is self-employed as a work-readiness coach. She graduated from St. Edmund High School in Brooklyn in 1974. She received a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology from Long Island University in 1979. She received her master’s degree in labor relations from the University of Rhode Island and juris doctor degree from Roger Williams University in 2006.
She is married to Kenneth and they have one child, Ian. Her website is vellawilkinson.com.