Dr. Heidi Kirk Duffy is a charter member of the IEP Advisory Council and has served as its chairperson since 1994. Born in Germany, Dr. Duffy studied at the Sorbonne and Alliance Francaise in Paris and the Language School in Münster, Germany, receiving her Dolmetscher (translator) Degree in German, English and French.
Emigrating to the United States when she was 26, she later married Chester H. Kirk Jr., the founder and CEO of Amtrol Inc. until his death in 1997. Mr. Kirk, a URI chemical engineering graduate (’40), founded Amtrol in 1946 and was a generous supporter of the University of Rhode Island. Together, the Kirks gave $1 million to establish a chair in Chemical Engineering and then in 1994, designated an additional $1 million gift to endow a chair in Applied Germanics. Dr. Duffy has also contributed a considerable amount toward IEP scholarships and the creation of a second IEP House.
Dr. Duffy has been nationally and internationally recognized for her contributions to the development of academic and economic interchanges between Germany and the USA. She received an honorary Doctor of Philosophy from URI in 1995 for her years of service to higher education. In 2000, the German government honored her with its highest civilian award, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, First Class.
In addition to her critical support for the IEP, Dr. Duffy has also strongly supported the arts in Rhode Island, serving on the board of the Providence Performing Arts Center and the Rhode Island Philharmonic. While President of the Philharmonic’s Board of Directors, she was credited with directing a turn-around which balanced the budget and brought new creative energy to the institution.
Dr. Duffy married David Duffy in 1999. Mr. Duffy is the retired head of Duffy and Shanley, one of Rhode Island’s largest public relations firms, and is very active in Rhode Island civic affairs and also a strong supporter of the IEP.