Nellie Gorbea

Nellie Gorbea is taking on some of the toughest issues and getting results, leading the way for other states across the country.


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Meet Nellie

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea was re-elected in 2018 to serve Rhode Island for a second term and continue making government work for people. She made history when she was sworn in on January 6, 2015, becoming the first Hispanic elected to statewide office in New England. Since then, she has rapidly emerged on the national scene as a leader who is taking on some of the toughest issues and getting results, leading the way for other states across the country.

Over the past three and a half years, she has modernized Rhode Island’s elections infrastructure, increased cybersecurity measures and brought both online and automated voter registration to the state. She has been dedicated to encouraging civic participation and pride among Rhode Islanders. Additionally, she instituted comprehensive lobby reform and is streamlining processes to make it easier for people and businesses to navigate state government. Rhode Island is now recognized as a national leader in many of these areas.

In recognition of her extraordinary leadership and achievements, she is a 2018 Honoree for Governing Institute’s Women in Government Leadership Program. She serves as the Eastern Region Vice President of the National Association of Secretaries of States, and Treasurer of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of States. In 2016, she was Vice Chair for the Democratic National Convention Platform Committee, an Aspen Rodel Fellow and a Hunt Kean Fellow.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Gorbea is a graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University. She and her husband, oceanographer Steve D’Hondt, and their three daughters live in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.

Getting It Done

Secure Elections

Led the charge to replace aging voting machines, acquiring state of the art paper-ballot optical scan machines for the entire state.

Fair Elections

Improved access to the ballot box by championing and implementing automated voter registration and online voter registration.

Transparent Government

Ushered in tough legislation to increase government transparency, crack down on violations of lobbying rules and make Rhode Island’s lobbying registration system a model for the nation.

Business Resources

Launched a new online Business Portal and Rules and Regulations database to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses in the state.

Civic Education

Increased civic knowledge in young people through online teacher resources and allowed students to use the state’s voting machines for student body elections.

R.I. History

Initiated the development of a new State Archives and Rhode Island History Exhibition Center that will help Rhode Islanders access, understand, and appreciate our state’s great history.



Emely Anico



Katie Lynch Keeffe