2017 Higher Ground International Cultural Gala &
Village Leader Awards (VLA)

September 22, 2017 @ 6pm
Renaissance Providence Hotel

Highlights of the evening will include an elegant African-inspired dinner filled with music, dancing, a fashion show, and a live auction. The event's theme is "Bringing the Village Together!" In today's world where the discourse is more divisive than inclusive, HGI hopes to bring people together from diverse backgrounds to learn from and celebrate with one another. The evening will focus on the (VLA) where four outstanding leaders in the community will be recognized for their dedication and work impacting the African community.

Your attendance and support helps Higher Ground serve the people of West Africa, both here in our local RI communities and in West African villages. We hope you will join us at this momentous gala, supporting and bringing together community right here in Rhode Island.

Download the invitation flyer.

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 2017 5th Annual 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

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

"Paramount Chief Award"                 Mr. James Alexander

"Kingdom Chief Award"
Ms. Susan L. Sweet

"Clan Chief Award"
Karen Lee Ziner

"Clan Chief Award"
Gabe Amo

Auction Block

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 - Performances & Fashion Show
7:30pm- Dinner | Henrie's Message & Awards
8:15pm - Live Auction, Music, and Dancing

Attire: Formal African and cocktail

Auctioneers: Angie Bannerman Ankoma and Raymond "Two Hawks" Watson

Event Decor: Events by Fran
Fashion Show: Donahue Models
Graphics by: Carolyn V. Marsden
Spoken Word: Len Cabral
African Drums: Sidy Maiga's Group
Entertainment: 1031 Productions

Music by:  DJ Spaceman & DJ Fire
Photographer: Anthony Abu and Archie Johnson

Event Sponsors

Thank you to our outstanding and supportive sponsors!

The Wise Elders

Mayor Jorge Elorza Logo.png

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:

Gina Raimondo- Governor of RI

David Cicilline-Congressman ofRI

Henrietta White-Holder, Exec. Dir.HGI

Host Committee: 

Sabina Matos: Acting President/Providence City Council,Rep Grace Diaz,Sharon Conard-wells: Exec Dir West Elmwood Housing,Council Woman Mary Kay Harris,Taino Palomo,Andres Bramson: President& CEO of the college crusade,Cliff Wood,Catherine Taylor,Kobi Dennis,Martha Siddiqu,Michelle Rego,Julia Noguchi,Barbara Silvis,Kathy Dellison,Tohib Giwa,Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies,Cheryl Burrell,Geraldine Barclay-King,Trinki Anderson Brueckner, Angie Bannerman Ankoma, Raymond l. Watson


Fund- A-Need

Angie Bannerman Ankoma

Raymond l. Watson

Live Action

Cliff Wood