Rhode Island Black Business Association Proudly Announces Highly-Anticipated Annual Awards Gala and Honorees: Celebrating “Thriving Futures: The Collective Power of Now”

Providence, Rhode Island, August 24, 2023 – The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) is delighted to announce its Annual Awards Gala scheduled for Friday, October 27, 2023! This spectacular celebration will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 801 Greenwich Avenue, Warwick, Rhode Island. Our Annual Awards Gala is RIBBA’s biggest fundraising event, attracting over 500 attendees statewide, including business owners, corporate leaders, professionals, and state and elected representatives. The theme for this year’s Gala is “Thriving Futures: The Collective Power of Now”, this year’s gala symbolizes progress, community empowerment, unity, and charting a brighter path for the future.

The festivities commence with a 6 PM cocktail reception, where attendees will enjoy the opportunity to network and enjoy our 360-photo booth and pre-program entertainment! Cocktail hour will be followed by a delectable sit-down dinner, keynote address, awards ceremony, and vivacious entertainment from 7 PM to 11 PM. Our Mistress of Ceremonies is back by popular demand! This year we will be reintroducing the dynamic five-time Emmy-nominated Barbara Morse, anchor for NBC News at Noon and Health Check reporter, to lead our event festivities!

The recipients of RIBBA’s (Rhode Island Black Business Association) 2023 Awards Program are being honored for their achievements in exhibiting exceptional leadership, resiliency, and influence in their field, and their relentless service to our community. Each recipient has made immense contributions to economic-community development and demonstrates a tremendous passion for diversity and inclusion in the State of Rhode Island. Their monumental leadership and service in our great state have cultivated immense growth and inspiration for Rhode Island individuals of color. “I congratulate this year’s award recipients, we received dozens of nominations this year,” says President and CEO Lisa Ranglin, “this year’s recipients are more than worthy of this recognition, we considered them the best in their league!” Lisa and her team are thrilled to join the community in publicly honoring these deserving leaders for the work they have done that so accurately aligns with our 7 pillars.

The 2023 Award Recipients are:2023 Awards Gala Honorees

  • George T. Downing Business Leadership Award
    Lanre Ajakaiye
    Chief Development Officer, United Way of Rhode Island
  • Outstanding Achievement in Leadership Award
    Frank Caprio
    Chief Judge, Providence Municipal Court
  • Christiana Bannister Civic Leadership Award
    Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies
    Executive Director, Economic Progress Institute
  • Emerging Leader Award
    Mamadou Ba
    Director, HOBO Product Management
  • Isaac Rice Entrepreneurship Award
    Edmund Addai
    CEO, The Stack House
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Champion Award
    Kim Barker Lee
    Executive Vice President, Bally’s Corporation
  • Change Agent Award
    Marcy Reyes
    Founder & CEO, FLYInitiative
  • Partnership Award
    John Tarantino
    Senior Counsel, Adler Pollock & Sheehan
  • Member of the Year Award
    Vennicia Kingston
    CEO, Eagle Eye Construction

A silent auction will take place throughout the evening, with all proceeds benefiting RIBBA’s Scholarship Fund, which plays a pivotal role in realizing the higher education aspirations of deserving Rhode Island students. The Annual Awards Gala holds the key to fueling RIBBA’s transformative work. Donations support community/small business development, job creation, financial literacy, and professional advancement programs. Through your generous sponsorships, ticket purchases, advertisements, and VIP table reservations, you play a vital role in advancing our mission to champion business development, wealth creation, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Last year, our generous supporters helped RIBBA to fundraise $150,000 to support our 7 pillars of programming: Advocacy, Access to Capital, Contracting, Financial Literacy, Entrepreneur and Leadership, Mentorship, and Pay IT Forward. RIBBA intends to knock that goal out of the park this year by fundraising $200,000 to support our organization in adapting to our organization’s overall growth, and the increased demand for the services we provide. This exciting growth has fostered the movement into our brand-new Headquarters at 220 Smith Street, Providence RI. The support from our incredible community will aid us in completing the buildout for this exciting new space that will serve as an equity business hub. The headquarters’ innovative structure will include coworking spaces, and content creation spaces available to budding entrepreneurs in the city that are looking to scale their businesses.

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 a real impact. Your participation in this event will bolster much-needed resources to continue to raise awareness, elevate conversations, and improve the lives of all Rhode Islanders.

Gala tickets are now available! RIBBA warmly welcomes sponsors for the event as well. To secure your Gala tickets or explore sponsorship opportunities, kindly visit the 2023 Annual Awards Gala Events Page. For further inquiries about sponsorship, please contact Lisa Ranglin, RIBBA Founder, President & CEO, at lisa@ribba.org or call 401.465.3669.