RIBBA’s Annual Awards Gala will take place on Friday, October 28th and recognize influential leaders in Rhode Island; tickets now available

September 12, 2022, Providence, Rhode Island – The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) is delighted to announce its Annual Awards Gala scheduled for Friday, October 28, 2022 at the Omni Providence Hotel, 1 West Exchange St, Providence, Rhode Island. Our Annual Gala is our biggest fundraising event, and we are excited to see everyone again after a 2-year absence due to Covid-19. The Gala begins at 6PM. with cocktails, followed by sit-down dinner and entertainment from 7 to 11PM. Our Mistress of Ceremonies this year will be the five-time Emmy nominated Barbara Morse, anchor for NBC News at Noon and Health Check reporter. The evening will also include an awards presentation, keynote speech, and entertainment.

Our Annual Gala is a prestigious, nominated awards program, recognizing individuals who exhibit excellence in leadership, professional achievement, and a heart for giving back to our community. The award recipients have a demonstrated desire towards diversity and inclusion, and have made a contribution to the economic and community development in our state. The Gala is the organization’s largest annual fundraising event, attracting attendees from across the state, including business owners, corporate leaders, professionals, state and elected representatives. Attendees will enjoy the opportunity to network during the cocktail hour and the dinner. A silent auction will take place throughout the evening, with all proceeds benefiting RIBBA’s Scholarship Fund, which helps make college dreams come true for some of Rhode Island most deserving students.

The theme for this year’s Gala is “Resiliency Through Transformative Action.” In addition, donations support community/small business development, job creation, financial literacy, and professional advancement programs. When you sponsor, purchase tickets/ads or reserve a VIP table, you are supporting the critical work RIBBA continues to champion.

This year’s keynote address will be delivered by Neil Steinberg, President and CEO of The Rhode Island Foundation. The organization works to address the needs of Rhode Island’s diverse communities through philanthropy, grant writing, and community leadership. With assets of approximately $1.4 billion, the organization raised $98 million and distributed $76 million in grants in 2021.

Founded in 2011, RIBBA has become an established presence and force in the Rhode Island community. RIBBA has been a firm and consistent voice advocating for equity, diversity and inclusion for all of us. Our programmatic focus has been on the development and growth of minority businesses. RIBBA has evolved, and our work continues to have real impact. Your participation in this event will bolster much needed resources to continue to raise awareness, elevate the conversations, and improve the lives of all Rhode Islanders.

The recipients of RIBBAs 2022 Awards Program are being honored for their achievements of exceptional leadership and resiliency in their field, and service to the community.

The Award Honorees:

  • George T. Downing Business Leadership Award
    Leslie Moore, Business Leader
    Urban Christian Missionary & founder of Core Collaboratives, LLC.
  • Outstanding Achievement in Leadership Award
    Keith Stokes, Director of Business & Economic Development
    City of Providence
  • Christiana Bannister Civic Leadership Award
    James (Jim) Vincent, President & Civil Rights Leader
    NAACP Providence Branch
  • Emerging Leader Award
    Kerry Wilson, Financial Solution Advisor, Merrill Edge
    Bank of America
  • Isaac Rice Entrepreneurship Award
    Jennifer Freitas, Owner
    The District Restaurant
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Champion Award
    Papitto Opportunity Connection and Barbara Papitto
  • Change Agent Award
    Melissa Husband, Chief of Staff
    Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island
  • Partnership Award
    Claudia Staniszewski, Program Officer, Economic Development
    Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • Member of the Year Award
    Evelyn Ranone, Vice President of Community Development & DEI
    BayCoast Bank

RIBBA has tickets available for sale for the Gala and is also welcoming sponsors for the event. To purchase tickets for the Gala, go to the Gala Event Page. For more information on sponsorship, please contact Lisa Ranglin, RIBBA Founder and President at lisa@ri-bba.org or 401.465.3669.



The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned and minority businesses in Rhode Island through access to capital, contracting, business development resources, entrepreneur training, business advocacy, meaningful investor services, and workforce development.