Vy Higginsen

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22

Founder and CEO
Mama Foundation for the Arts
New York City

Vy Higginsen, a writer, producer and publisher with an impressive list of firsts, believes that what you do with your day determines what will happen to you. “We all have the same twenty-four hours. The first eight hours are for survival and anything over that is for success,” she declares.

Born and raised in Harlem, New York City, Higginsen was the first Black female radio personality in the prime-time New York City market on WBLS; the first woman in advertising sales at Ebony magazine; the first Black woman to produce a drama on Broadway with her rendition of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson; and the first Black female writer, producer and director of the longest-running off-Broadway musical Mama, I Want to Sing. Today, she is busy managing the Mama Foundation for the Arts, a nonprofit organization she established in 1998 to preserve the legacy of gospel, jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues through musical theater, recordings, concerts and education. As the foundation’s CEO and executive director, she oversees the School of Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts, which the foundation launched in 2000 to present, preserve and promote the history and culture of African-American music, and to identify, train and employ talented individuals in the arts. 

Managing a not-for-profit organization has its challenges, and Higginsen faces her share with the eye and mind of an optimist. “Every thing, person or disappointment offers an opportunity to practice being a better self,” she says. Her goal is to see the foundation grow and her students perform on world stages.

Higginsen holds an associate degree in buying and marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology. In the past, she has worked for Snelling and Snelling employment agency, NBC-TV, KISS-FM and Metro-TV. When she disappears from Harlem, she’s likely walking on a beach in New Jersey or Mexico.