2016 Higher Ground International Cultural Gala &
Village Leader Awards (VLA)

September 23, 2016 @ 6pm
Renaissance Providence Hotel

Join us as we celebrate Higher Ground International with African-inspired dinner, music, dancing, live auction, and Broken Pieces fashion show!
The event's theme is "Bringing the Village Together" The evening will focus on the Village Leader Awards (VLA) where leaders in the community will be recognized for their dedication and work impacting the African community.

Your attendance directly supports Higher Ground in serving the people of Africa, both here in Rhode Island communities and in the rural villages of West Africa.

About The Event

Emcee: Mike Ritz

Mike Ritz joins Higher Ground International as Emcee for this year's Cultural Gala & Village Leader Awards.  He has been the executive director of Leadership Rhode Island since 2009, after serving two years on the organization’s board of governors. Over the past 20 years, he has served as a tri-lingual interrogator in the U.S. Army, established his first corporation by the age of 25, motivated people to excel at his fitness Boot Camps in Boston and Philadelphia, and served as the New England regional manager for an international health care company based in the United Arab Emirates. He also was an on-call analyst for CNN. Recently, Mike became a founding member of the Providence Cultural Equity Initiative where he serves as the volunteer Director of Cultural Food Initiatives.

Village Leader Awards

Three awards will be presented to outstanding members of the Higher Ground International community.

  • Providence City Councilwoman Pro Tem Sabina Matos
  • Mackenzie L'Maree
  • Anthony Abu

Auction Block

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  This Stunning, certified print of “Mary” will be in our live auction at the Cultural Gala.   Original painting by Australian artist, Corrine Lewis

This Stunning, certified print of “Mary” will be in our live auction at the Cultural Gala. 

Original painting by Australian artist, Corrine Lewis

About the Keynote

Ms. Massa A. Washington, a journalist by trade and a women's rights civil society activist by passion, will join the event with a keynote presentation.

Event Schedule:
6:00pm - Cocktail Hour
7:00pm - Dinner and Keynote
8:00pm - Awards, Auction
8:30pm - Broken Pieces Fashion Show, Music, and Dancing

Attire: Formal African and cocktail

Auctioneers: Eileen Kwesiga and Michelle Rego
Event Decor: Events by Fran
Fashion Show: Donahue Models
Graphics by: Carolyn V. Marsden
Interpretive Dancer:
Alexzene Capehart
African Dance Entertainment:
Alima Intl. Dance Association
Music by: DJ Fire
Photographer: Anthony Ambrosino and Nick Delmenico

Event Sponsors

Thank you to our outstanding and supportive sponsors!

The Wise Elders

The Tribal Chiefs

The Townspeople

The Merchants

Kim and Geary Hall

The Artisans

The Community Gatherers

In-Kind Sponsors

ALC Copies, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Hall of GraFX, Hampton Inn & Suites, Corrine Lewis, Renaissance Hotel Providence, Munir Mohammad, Siena Restaurant, Swarovski, Terrazza, The Dean Hotel, The Dorrance, and The Providence Athenaeum

Event Co-Chairs:

Gretchen Heath and Sylvia Mburu

Host Committee: 

Henrietta White-Holder, Exec. Dir.
Erica Adarkwa, Hilina D. Ajakaiye, Geraldine Barclay, Christine Cardoza, Eileen Kwesiga, Mackenzie L'Maree, Sacha Montgomery, Weayonnoh Nelson, Michelle Rego, Jeniffer Reid-Fisher, Deborah Winick, and La Sheena Thompson