MEET THE TEAM

Vy Higginsen

Executive Director

Vy Higginsen, noted author, playwright, radio and TV personality, has garnered an excellent reputation and won many awards for providing high quality products and services to African-American audiences. After a decade of being behind the microphone and on major New York stations (WBLS-FM, WWRL-AM, WRKS-FM), Vy published and edited Unique NY, a lifestyles magazine designed for African-Americans and tourists. 

In 1983, Vy co-wrote, produced and directed the classic black Gospel musical Mama I Want To Sing!, which ran for eight years and 2,200 performances at the Off-Broadway Heckscher Theater in East Harlem.  In March 1986, Mama began a national tour of the USA, playing two consecutive years throughout major cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles/San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington.  International tours include Austria, Japan, Germany, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, and Yugoslavia. Mama also played for six months on the West End of London.  In March 1988, Vy co-produced Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson on Broadway. In 2002, Vy was ordained as an Interfaith Minister. Led by her passion for the sounds and music she grew up hearing, Vy conceived and created Alive! which documents the sounds, music, and stories of our black American musical landscape.

 

Vy continues to write and produce original work as the Executive Director of the Emmy Award-winning Mama Foundation for the Arts in Harlem, New York.  

Ken Wydro

Creative Director

Ken Wydro is a published author, a produced playwright and lyricist, an experienced stage director, an active Broadway, off-Broadway and London producer, workshop and seminar leader, dream analyst and community leader in Harlem. He is the co-creator, director and producer of the acclaimed musical, Mama, I Want to Sing, and continues his writing, directing, and producing partnership with his wife, Vy Higginsen, at Mama Foundation for the Arts.

Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson

Director of Music and Arts Education

Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson grew up backstage and on tour across the USA, Japan and Europe with Mama, I Want to Sing. At seven years old, she performed in Sing: Mama 2 with Shirley Caesar at Madison Square Garden. Higginson attended the Professional Children's School, Professional Performing Arts High School, Manhattan School of Music, and the American Dramatic and Music Academy (AMDA). She has performed internationally and is featured on recordings for numerous productions including the next generation of Mama, I Want to Sing, in which she starred as Doris Winter.

 

At Mama Foundation for the Arts, she resides as Program Director of the Gospel for Teens program, as Music Master for workshops and private lessons, and as Music Director of The Sing Harlem Choir.

Ryan Baker

Director of Operations

A Houston native, Ryan Baker began choreographing musicals and dance groups at the age of 17 and went on to become a professional choreographer in and around the greater Houston area. He is the former production director at Art Park Players in Deer Park, Texas with more than 70 stage productions and events under his belt. After nearly a decade of directing and choreographing in the Houston area, Ryan relocated to New York to further his career in arts administration. Ryan is currently the Director of Operations at Mama Foundation for the Arts in Harlem and a contributing producer of independent stage and screen works for Typed Out and Ant & Dove.

Maggie Swahl

Executive Assistant

149 West 126th Street Harlem, New York 10027   212.280.1045

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