Teaching + Learning in Art + Design


Janice DeFrances

Dr. Janice DeFrances is an experienced school leader and mental health advocate with a proven history of innovative, effective program development and team building for meaningful change in learning environments. 

In July 2011, she was appointed director of Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth and Families. Prior to her new role, she served for 35 years in both the public and private sector as a school principal, special education director and CEO. 

She holds two masters degrees in special education and counseling, a doctorate in administration/special education and a post-doctorate in neuropsychology. In addition to her administrative duties, Dr. DeFrances continues her work as an educator and researcher, with a focus in the areas of child development, holistic education and the promotion of positive mental health, applying theory to practice and developing effective programs to serve children, youth and families. She has served eight years on the North Kingstown School Committee, serving also as chairperson on the policy subcommittee. 

For 25 years, Dr. DeFrances has been adjunct faculty at Rhode Island School of Design in the graduate program for Teaching + Learning in Art + Design.