RIBBA New Building Announcement

Senators Reed and Whitehouse, Mayor Elorza, and Rhode Island Foundation Announce Investment in New Headquarters for Rhode Island Black Business Association

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined Lisa Ranglin, Founder, President & CEO of the Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA), United States Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Neil Steinberg, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, Keith Stokes, Providence Director of Business and Development and community members, to announce the acquisition of an office building located at 220 Smith Street, Providence.  The property will serve as RIBBA’s new headquarters as well as an Equity Business Hub.

“The purchase of these new offices is both an investment in our organization’s future and our community. The hard work and commitment of our staff, board of directors, partners, and members allowed us to make this acquisition from a position of growth and strength,” said Lisa Ranglin. “We are excited about what this means for our members and community.”

In addition to being RIBBA’s new headquarters, the 4,300-square-foot Equity Business Hub will offer co-working space and a state-of-the-art training facility for members and partners. “We see this as a great resource for local small businesses to lay down roots for success in the community,” said Lisa Ranglin.

The acquisition of the office building officially closed on Monday, October 31, 2022. RIBBA is projected to move in Spring 2023.

“As evidenced by the findings and recommendations of our Municipal Reparations Commission, we know that building wealth and equity through home and business ownership is essential for closing the racial wealth and equity gap in Providence,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “The City of Providence is proud to provide these funds to help make this new headquarters and hub possible. I know that RIBBA will advance incredible work in this space, and I thank our federal delegation and the Rhode Island Foundation for their partnership.” 

The purchase was made possible through a $500,000 Congressional Directed Spending request secured by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. In addition, the City of Providence and the Rhode Island Foundation each provided $137,500 of funding to support the acquisition and expected buildout. Senator Jack Reed secured an additional $1,000,000 which will be used to expand, deepen, and strengthen RIBBA’s programming, services and outreach.  

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 individuals. 

The Rhode Island Black Business Association 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.  

To learn more about the plans for the new headquarters, visit https://ri-bba.org/equityhub.


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.


Expect the Unexpected: 5 Reasons to Apply for the RIBBA Emerging Leaders Development Program

by Stephanie Mireku

RIBBA’s Emerging Leaders Development Program is a unique opportunity for professionals of color to invest in their leadership skills and amplify their professional trajectories toward greater success. The program encourages active and ongoing participation in discussions and projects related to topics such as personal brand, leadership style, conflict management, and managerial effectiveness. Participants have the platform to increase their overall access to resources and opportunities, enhance their capacity to lead, improve career opportunities, build significant relationships, and contribute to the fabric of leadership in their communities.

The program, currently in its second year of accepting applicants, has a reputation all on its own in part due to its remarkable outcomes, such as a 100% graduation rate, several promotions and job offers, board placements, business launches, speaking opportunities, and overall increased access to professional and personal opportunities. While it can be interesting and helpful to hear the facts, the stories make all the difference. In the words of Maya Angelou, “people will forget what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel”. We hope you feel the impact of the program by hearing the perspective from a graduate of the first cohort, Mushi Calixte, a Manager of the Community Support Team at The Providence Center, about why it would be advantageous to apply for the program. 

1. You’ll get what you contribute, but most likely you will get even more  

Mushi shared that she pursued the Emerging Leaders program in hopes to become a better leader to guide her staff and improve decision making. Her impressive outcome of attaining a promotion and increasing confidence, as well as maximizing potential and capacity to lead, balance major responsibilities and pursue additional endeavors in life such as an advanced degree, she attributes to the next level mindset and growth focused environment of the program. These were all added and unexpected advantages to participating. 

2. You will learn a lot of important truths about yourself 

Mushi shared that through this experience she learned about how giving she is, how that affects how she is perceived, and how she can best navigate that, additionally she learned that she is stronger than she ever thought she was. The program also reminded her of the important truth that she is enough, and that she can use her unique voice in leadership as a Black woman the way that works for her rather than molding to others’ preferences or expectations. In Mushi’s powerful words: “My seat is there, I just have to sit in it”. 

3. You will meet incredible people and build valuable relationships 

Mushi had a hard time narrowing down her favorite part of the cohort experience due to having such a high value and return on her time in the program, but she ultimately pointed out the essence of the program is the people, and specifically meeting everyone participating in the program who were also focused on a goal of elevating themselves as leaders of color. It was reaffirming to know that she is not alone in trying to better herself. She now has a whole new set of people that she can go to for advice, to share ideas and perspectives, and to connect with on a personal level. 

4. The conversations and experiences you have will elevate your career and life 

Mushi shared that she had previously participated in other leadership programs but what sets the RIBBA Emerging Leaders Development Program apart from others of its kind is the individual and collective impact of the experience provided by RIBBA leadership and staff envisioned and then made the program possible. All of the incredible resources, information, and opportunities shared with the interest of helping participants to grow, learn, and improve made all the difference. The support from each person who was a part of the experience made all the difference as well as the feeling of having real, relevant, and powerful conversations in the duration as opposed to the feeling of being lectured to. Mushi also wonders what could have happened had she had access to this opportunity sooner because of how impactful it has been already.

5. You get a rare opportunity to give to and invest in yourself

Mushi’s advice to future participants: “be completely open minded, put the information into practice, be hands on, and take advantage of everything that is offered, and most importantly be ready to receive” 

The Emerging Leaders Development Program prepares high-performing Asian, Black, Hispanic or Latino, Indigenous and multi-racial professionals for advancement into senior leadership and executive roles while raising their visibility as a force within their organization and community. This 7-month leadership program is designed to provide participants with the additional knowledge, skills and tools that they will need to take their career to the next level. The program includes in-residence training, assessments to aid in advancement, executive and emotional intelligence coaching, mentorship, volunteering, civic engagement, networking opportunities, and more. 

The Emerging Leaders Development Program is free for participants through funding received by the RI Department of Labor and Training and is delivered by RIBBA in partnership with the University of RI Office of Strategic Initiatives.

To learn more and apply, visit the webpage

RI Black Business Association Business Gives Out Over $10,000 to Young Entrepreneurs

Providence, RI – May 10, 2022 –
The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned and minority businesses and professionals in RI, held a Young Adult Business Pitch Competition on April 30, 2022 at Sprout Co-Working in Providence, Rhode Island. Eight young adult entrepreneurs were invited to participate in the final pitch competition and were awarded over $10,000 in grant funds. The competition was open to individuals who live in Rhode Island, are Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color, and are aged 18-30. 

Upon arriving at the competition event, Lisa Ranglin, CEO of RIBBA, announced that they would be increasing the winning funds to $5,000 and that any business that did not place in the top three would also leave with a $500 grant for their business – amounting to $12,500 dispersed to participants.  

The following businesses received top recognition and between $2,000-$5,000 grants: 

  • 1st Place: MUSE LLC –  Toye Onikoyi and Larry Adigun 
  • 2nd Place: MBKBeauty – Khamry Varfley 
  • 3rd Place: Kerly Girl – Kerlyne Jean-Baptiste 

“When we heard of this opportunity it was a no brainer to apply to be a part, said Toye Onikoyi and Larry Adigun – 1st place winners of the competition. “I was already familiar with the work RIBBA does as I was introduced to them while in college. I knew our pitch was ready but didn’t expect anything and it was a surprise and uplifting to win first place and gracious of them to raise the prize winnings. Besides winning we were able to meet other entrepreneurs and expand our ever-growing network. We look forward to using the money for marketing purposes as well as inventory expenses.” 

Each of the eight participants received training on how to create and present a business pitch prior to the final competition. The final winners were decided by three judges who are all entrepreneurs and small business leaders in the state. They assessed the participants on their idea, presentation, and overall business plan.

“As one of the first winners of RIBBA’s first competition, I understand what these young entrepreneurs were feeling,” said Victor Regino – competition judge and 2019 pitch winner. “I was on this exact stage pitching my liquor brand called Papi’s Coquito, ultimately winning startup funds to bring my business to the next level. RIBBA’s staff ensured all basics were covered and most importantly made sure these young business owners were prepared to give their presentations and knew the answers to all our questions. As a Small Business Liaison for the City of East Providence, I work with business owners every day, and I understand how difficult running a business can be without the proper foundation. RIBBA spends so much time and energy preparing and empowering young Black and brown entrepreneurs and they understand the importance of building up the community around them. This is why I’m confident they will all do well. Congratulations to Kerly Girl, MBK Beauty, and Muse Mirror!” 

Lisa Ranglin, RIBBA president stated, “Access to capital for this underserved population is very limited. We are offering RIBBA’s unique approach of combining access to capital with expert technical services to help them grow their businesses. Business formation is an effective way to decrease unemployment. In spite of reports of record low unemployment among minorities, October 2018 BLS household data showed black 18 year old youth at close to 20% unemployment with Latino youth at nearly 17% – about 30% higher than among white 18 year old youth. Minority youth up to age 30 are twice as likely as white youth to be unemployed.”   

RIBBA provides businesses with a vast array of business services – from access to funds, to training, and one-on-one business development. To learn more about these services, email smallbizhelp@ri-bba.org or call 401-383-1179. 

The RI Black Business Association Seeks Nominations for Awards Program

Nominations will be accepted until the deadline on June 3, 2022

Providence, Rhode Island – Wednesday, May 5, 2022 –  The Rhode Island Black Business Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned and minority businesses and professionals in RI, is seeking nominations for its 2022 Annual Awards Program. RIBBA will recognize outstanding business owners, entrepreneurs and community leaders for their achievements and contributions to the community. The awards will be presented at RIBBA’s 2022 Annual Awards Gala on Friday, October 28, 2022. 

Nominations are being accepted in six categories:  

  • George T. Downing Business Leadership Award: Presented to an influential business leader for developing an outstanding, growing business; innovative product(s), increasing jobs, increasing sales, overcoming adversity in the workplace and who plays a strong leadership role in the community by serving industry associations and community organizations. 
  • Emerging Leader Award: Presented to an individual who is an up-and-coming leader whose impact is seen not only in their organization, but throughout the state.   
  • Isaac Rice Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Presented to an individual who has no more than three years of organizing and/or managing a successful business. 
  • Christiana Bannister Civic Leadership Award: Presented to an individual in recognition of outstanding services to the community, society and humanity. 
  • Diversity and Inclusion Champion: Presented to a company that demonstrates a strong commitment to corporate responsibility practices and whose leaders are actively engaged in supporting and expanding diversity and inclusion in procurement or lending and hiring. 
  • Member of the Year Award: Presented to an individual or business member of the Rhode Island Black Business Association who has played a strong role in RIBBA’s overall community goals. 

Nominations for the Awards Program will be accepted until the deadline on August 19, 2022 at 5 pm. To nominate an individual or business, please use the Awards Program Nomination Form.  For more information or to speak with a RIBBA representative, please email amanda@ri-bba.org. 

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. Learn More, call 401-383-1179 or e-Mail: Info@ri-bba.org 



Lisa Ranglin Named President & CEO of Rhode Island Black Business Association

Providence, RI – March 31, 2022 – The Rhode Island Black Business Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned and minority businesses and professionals in RI, today announced that Lisa Ranglin has been named President and CEO of the organization effective immediately. Lisa founded the organization in 2011 and has served as the Interim Executive Director since January of 2021.

Lisa has over twenty years of experience in the banking industries at Citizen’s Bank and Bank of America where she led large complex multi-year, multi-million-dollar projects with emphasis on technology, regulatory compliance, process improvement and organizational change management initiative. Ranglin approaches leadership from through a solution-focused lens by creating and developing teams of staff and volunteers with passion, energy, and vision. She is an alumnus of Leadership Rhode Island, holds a master’s degree from Johnston & Wales University, and is a bachelor’s degree from New England Technical College.

“Lisa Ranglin is a tremendous asset to Rhode Island and to underserved communities in the region and beyond, said Robin Peterson Gibbs, RIBBA Board Member and Senior Regional Director of Office of International Advancement at Brown University. “She has a profound understanding of the positive impact economic development has on individuals, families and communities. Thanks to Lisa’s vision, leadership and determination, RIBBA has become a powerful vehicle for social change. During the pandemic, Lisa summoned a “call to action” that was answered by local leaders from government and business and has resulted in support that will position RIBBA to have a more significant footprint and even greater impact in the future. Congratulations to Lisa on her appointment as CEO of RIBBA!”

”In the mold of Shirley Chisholm, RIBBA President & CEO, Lisa Ranglin is a powerhouse of a leader,” said Casby Harrison, Board of Director member and litigation attorney at Harrison Law Associates. “Eloquent as a public speaker, fearless as an advocate for the underserved, Lisa is a prolific fundraiser and value added business consultant, collaborator and partner. If that’s not enough, add mentor to dozens of emerging leaders, savvy business woman and advisor to elected officials. Lisa Ranglin’s torch lights the path for so many to follow to a better place.”

In 2010, Lisa Ranglin mobilized community and local leaders to come together to look at issues affecting small businesses in underserved cities. This group, led by Lisa, conducted brainstorming sessions, and did a random sampling of both individuals and businesses to help determine the priorities for effectively fostering minority small business efforts. After a detailed analysis was completed, the group recommended that the Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) be established.

Since founding the organization, Lisa has spent much of her career helping business leaders, and small businesses improve performance and increase profitability. Having knowledge of the leadership gap, she works to ensure RIBBA becomes a model for what intentional work, paired with impactful, and persistent leadership can accomplish as we work towards greater social equity and economic advancement.

The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) is a non-profit organization droppable-1648673443652dedicated 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. Learn More, call 401-383-1179 or e-Mail: Info@ri-bba.org



Leading with Intention: It Starts from Within


by Stephanie Mireku: RIBBA Content Writer and Emerging Leader


The story of how the face and depth of leadership within Rhode Island is changing is far from just beginning but the pace just intensified. That is because of the work of a few key intentional organizations, a few determined business leaders, a few passionate emerging leaders, a woman on fire for economic and social transformation, and some transformative and impactful alignment through partnership. These elements comprise the powerhouse of people and organizations that made the first cohort of the Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) Emerging Leaders Development Program (ELDP), a program created by and for professionals of color with the intention of helping prepare and propel dedicated local emerging leaders for the next step in their vocational trajectories. I sat down for a candid conversation and reflection on the program with Lisa Ranglin, MS, PMP, CSSGB, the Founder and President of Rhode Island Black Business Association, upon the completion of this first cohort, and the conversation was just as energetic and vibrant as the program itself.   

The controversial and questionable sentiment that there are not enough leaders and emerging leaders of color positioned for growth in the state of Rhode Island has been crushed by the weight of achievement and drive demonstrated by the participants of the program’s inaugural cohort and the impact of their stories is amplified by data. According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Rhode Island as quoted by Ruth McCambridge for the Nonprofit Quarterly, as recently as 2020, “even though people of color make up 30 percent of the state’s (Rhode Island) population, only three percent of the chief executive officers of that state’s nonprofits are led by people of color, and only 10 percent of board members are of color”(Nonprofit Quarterly). Lisa Ranglin specifically addressed this issue when she spoke about the program and described what it means to her, sharing that the impact is in the output, which is 25 leaders of color who have all successfully emerged from the program inspired, prepared, confident and motivated to not only excel and take their space but also uplift others and pay it forward for future generations of leaders to come. 

The journey to this program for Lisa began in 2016 when she was blatantly overlooked for an opportunity that she was an ideal and well positioned candidate for. She flipped this negative experience into a launching pad for her own opportunity and as a platform to create space for other Black leaders and leaders of color by trailblazing the challenging yet critical path toward what is now the RIBBA Emerging Leaders Development Program. While she was declined funding, partnership, and support opportunities for this program, she persisted in pursuing her vision and ultimately sought and gained resounding key and foundational support from the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island for a proofing concept, a partnership from the University of Rhode Island, and funding from the Department of Labor and Training, among other enthusiastic partners and supporters. It is clear that this investment will go a long way in creating and sustaining opportunities for leaders of color. According to McKinsey and Company, organizations in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity on executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry leading profitability in 2017 (McKinsey & Company). Lisa spoke to the value and impact of creating these intentional opportunities for leaders of color like the inaugural ELDP cohort participants, which starts with increases in earning potential, access to sponsors and mentors, career mobility and translates into increased opportunity and access for families, organizations, and communities, which in turn improves the quality of life for everyone involved. When Black people, and in particular, Black women and girls are at the center of efforts to advance equity and opportunity, it in turn fuels progress for organizations and communities as a whole, Lisa shared. This is supported by research too: “Black women account for only 1.6 percent of vice presidents and 1.4 percent of C-suite executives, while white men hold 57 percent and 68 percent of those position (McKinsey & Company’s The State of Black Women in Corporate America 2020). When looking at what is referred to as the “invisibility” of Black women, Psychology Today stated that, “Because of their multiple subordinate-group identify, Black women live in the intersection between these two stereotyped groups, and as a result, often fall between the cracks. So not only do Black women have to overcome the disadvantage of being a member of two underrepresented groups, they also have to deal with another form of discrimination that is not shared by White women or Black men: Invisibility. This means their presence is more likely to go unnoticed and their voice ore likely unheard. To stand out and voice their opinions Black women have to work even harder than their fellow Black men or White women counterparts.” (Psychology Today). 

The most significant evidence of the efficacy and power of this program is in the outcomes: 100% graduation as well as several cases of promotions, salary increases, job offers, and access to executives, new professional relationships and opportunities, and key pathways to important decision making conversations. The participants of the program not only are doing well for themselves extrinsically but also intrinsically with meaningful new bonds with fellow participants and program partners and supporters, deeper understanding of personal growth opportunities, and a sense of accomplishment, empowerment, and excitement.  

Many are asking the question of what’s next for ELDP and RIBBA, and to that Lisa and Amanda Román share with excitement and vigor that the next round of applications for the leadership program will open in May 2022 for a program kickoff in October 2022, and those who are enthusiastic about supporting the work that RIBBA is doing can reach out to Amanda for details about how to get connected and involved, or sign up for the newsletter. Additionally, RIBBA would like to take this model of development on the road to organizations seeking similar opportunities that are serious about creating and expanding economic opportunity. What happens to the recently graduated cohort, is another important question, to which the answer is: in board rooms, at press conferences, running businesses, evaluating the best places to leverage their skills and talents, in leadership conversations and strategy sessions, changing the face of Rhode Island, and supporting and uplifting each other and so many others who need the encouragement, support, and advocacy.  

How do people change the power structure and leadership pipeline of a small but mighty state whose systems of power and structures of leadership don’t accurately or sufficiently represent its constituents? You start by influencing the networks of impact by practicing intentional leadership, partnering with aligned and resourced entities, following up with well thought out and sustained action steps, and celebrate progress with the people who you come to admire and respect through the process because you all took an important and impactful chance, together, to change the world one step at a time. 

 For more information or questions, please reach out to amanda@ri-bba.org.