Passion on Purpose: A Perspective on the Kickoff to the RIBBA Emerging Leaders Development Program

Achiever. Responsibility. Relator. Futuristic. Learner. 

These are not randomly selected descriptors—there is purpose, power, and possibility in each of them. There is also purpose, power, and possibility in each of the people that represent these strengths. These 5 descriptors are the most highly represented strengths according to the Gallup Clifton Strengths assessment for the inaugural RIBBA Emerging Leaders Development Program cohort.  Thanks to the team at Leadership Rhode Island, we were able to learn just what each of our top strengths mean for us specifically, how we can use them effectively, and how they show up in the spaces and circumstances we find ourselves in. Additionally, thanks to Anne Lipsitz, we were able to consider and articulate how understanding, embracing, and aligning our strengths can help us build a strong personal brand as well as facilitate organizational and overall success. It was a fantastic and inspirational day, and we are humbled and excited to share some initial perspectives on the experience of the start of the program. 

On Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 25 dynamic, talented, and passionate people came together to launch a journey with different expressions of a common goal: to continue to develop their professional and personal trajectories and increase and enhance opportunities for success. This looks different and shows up in varying ways for each of these unique people, but one thing we can all agree on is that this program will be lifechanging and undoubtedly impactful—it already has been.  

To begin with, none of us are part of this incredible effort by chance. Lisa Ranglin, the RIBBA team, and countless other collaborators have been on a journey for some time to make this opportunity a reality, and just at the right time, it came to fruition. It is no secret and nothing new that leaders of color tend to have fewer opportunities for promotion, fewer chances for leadership roles, fewer opportunities for board representation, fewer pay increases, and the list goes on, however, the story does not end there. What is remarkable about the Emerging Leaders Development Program is that it provides a unique opportunity for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) professionals to experience an intentional and customized program that equally builds on their experiences and addresses the areas individually that they need assistance with. All of this is in a valiant and paramount effort to challenge the narrative that there are not enough leaders of color to succeed in critical, elevated, and powerful roles. As was discussed on Day 1, the members of this cohort came to be leaders, but the reality is that we are already leaders, and in some cases, without us realizing it—we just need appropriate, affirming, and inclusive space to amplify and leverage our talents. In other words, we have the skills to succeed and simply need to maximize them.  

Each of the 25 participants come from different vantage points and experiences, varying companies, work and educational backgrounds, with varying skills, talents and interests. Despite our differences, we are all committed to maximizing our individual and collective experiences and in turn, shifting the tide of leadership in Rhode Island and beyond, and increasing the chances of success for ourselves, our families, and our communities forever. This is excellence personified and we hope to help make this experience possible for future leaders to come.  

By Stephanie Mireku and Tyler Joseph, Emerging Leaders Development Program Participants

Orange Live Entertainment, Forgivable Micro-Loan Recipient

Orange Live Entertainment is a Multi-media Platform that offers videography, animation, writing, advisement, hosting and more. The owner of Orange Live Entertainment is Damont Combs, who started out in Jamaica Queens, New York where he began being involved with poetry and other artistic activities. When moving to Rhode Island, he had to adjust to living in a new environment while attending Johnson & Wales University. Some of the accomplishments he made along the way included starting out an Open Mic Night at Blue State Café located in Rhode Island, publishing his first poetry book My Poem My Riddle. Damont published other poetry books in 2016, 2017 and 2018 that are in bookstores in Rhode Island such as Stillwater Books and JW Brown.

Eventually in 2018, Damont became a full-time poet, competed in a national competition and earned a National Poet of the Year award. He took the show on the road and performed poetry at places such as laundry mats, barbershops and churches. In 2019, he was recognized as a Rhode Island Mentor of the year. From 2020 throughout 2021, Damont has continued to see more success, such as: working with the Pawtucket Art Council, hosting events with the PVD Outspoken Festival, helping local poets obtain fair financial compensation as a poetry agent, and is looking forward to working with Providence Latino Film Festival.

Damont’s journey and accomplishments are what make him so appreciative of the Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) and the support given to him. Damont received a forgivable micro-loan from RIBBA to help him get a more advanced computer and to pay for a part-time assistant. These essential business needs will help his full vision for the business come to fruition.

It is widely known that art helps communities get through hard times and Damont hopes to continue growing Orange Live Entertainment to do just that.

To learn more about Damont Combs and Orange Live Entertainment, click here.

Written by Angelika Walker, RIBBA Intern

RIBBA offers forgivable microloan program for BIPOC-owned businesses

PROVIDENCE – A new, forgivable loan program will provide a combined $450,000 in microloans to Black, Indigenous and people of color-owned small businesses in the state, the Rhode Island Black Business Association announced Thursday.

Read full article online