Gina Rodríguez-Drix Awarded American Express Emerging Leader Award for Community Impact

Americans for the Arts announced today that Gina Rodríguez-Drix, Cultural Affairs Manager for the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, multi-genre writer, and practicing birth doula has been awarded the 2020 American Express Emerging Leader Award at Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention and Public Art & Civic Design Conference. The award recognizes an exceptional new and/or young arts professional for their exemplary leadership, deep engagement with community, and strong commitment to advancing the arts.

At the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism Rodríguez-Drix manages the ACT Public Art program, develops cultural policy, and facilitates creative placemaking projects. Most recently she managed the planning process for the Art in City Life Plan, the City’s first master plan for public art, and currently stewards the planning process for Creative Providence 2020, the City’s second cultural plan for the creative sector. Rodríguez-Drix’s professional and creative practices are rooted in her passion for social, environmental, and reproductive justice, and a commitment to her hometown. Her work in creative placemaking has centered artists in conversations around community safety (Illuminated Trinity, funded by ArtPlace America) and has integrated artists with gardeners and food-based organizations to support a strong, vibrant, inclusive, and diverse local cultural economy and a more resilient local food system (Sowing Place, funded by Kresge FreshLo).

A multi-genre writer, Rodríguez-Drix writes performance pieces to include poems, plays, prose, and fiction meant for any place where there is a community. Her first play, Ariel, was produced at Rites and Reason Theater and won a 2008 Potpourri Women of Color Playwright Award, which resulted in a production as a staged reading at the Drama Bookshop in New York City. Her play Free at Last (?) was produced at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth in 2013. Rodríguez-Drix’s personal narrative, Birth as Battle Cry: A Doula’s Journey from Home to Hospital was published in Black Women Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth. Her creative nonfiction piece, Burial and Diaspora, was published in Out of Many: Multiplicity and Divisions in America Today in 2018.

Rodríguez-Drix serves on the board of the International Charter School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies from Brown University and raises her young family in Providence.

“I am pleased to recognize Gina Rodríguez-Drix for her dedicated commitment to ensuring the arts and culture in Providence continue to thrive,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “I applaud the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to excellence that Gina brings to her work – she is an effective leader who understands the importance of community vision in partnership with the arts.”

“Arts and culture are essential for community building and contributing to economic opportunity,” said Timothy J. McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation. I applaud Gina for her vital work to empower and support her community through the arts. We are committed to developing the next generation of social purpose leaders who continue to move the world forward.”

Through its Emerging Leaders Network, Americans for the Arts works to identify and cultivate the next generation of leaders in the arts and arts education. Currently, Americans for the Arts serves a network of approximately 6,000 members in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.


Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of 60 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at

About American Express’ Leadership Initiatives
One of American Express’ three philanthropic platforms is Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow. Under this giving initiative, which recognizes the significance of strong leadership in the nonprofit and social purpose sectors, American Express makes grants focused on training high potential emerging leaders to tackle important issues in the 21st century. More than 125,000 emerging nonprofit and social sector leaders worldwide have benefitted from American Express leadership programs, including the American Express Leadership Academy among others. For leadership journey stories and additional resources, visit

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