Photo of Paula Dang with the quote: "Growing up, I wished there were more people who looked like me. Now, I can be that representation."

Being the Change I Wish to See: Nonprofit Board Governance Through a New Lens

Paula Dang, Metropolitan Ministries Stories

I’ve always been passionate about being a voice for individuals and communities that need support. Life was challenging for me growing up as a Vietnamese and Asian American woman because I felt like I had to conform to societal and cultural norms. In middle school, I decided to lean into who I was. I honed in on my communication and professional skills and began advocating for more opportunities, causes and equity for everyone.

Over time, my purpose in life became clear: serving others. Today, I am the associate director of community donations for Metropolitan Ministries — a nonprofit that cares for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless.

When I heard about the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship, I knew this was the next chapter in my journey. Even though fellows are typically from the corporate sector, I saw this as a chance to make a difference beyond my day-to-day role as a nonprofit professional.

Becoming Who I Wished to See

When I applied for the Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship, I never anticipated how much I would learn about myself.

The fellowship is designed to help professionals of color like me learn how to be effective nonprofit board members while equipping nonprofits with training to create more diverse and equitable boards.

The fellowship consisted of six evening sessions that were extremely deep and highly engaging. There was a different set of speakers at each session who focused on various aspects of board governance. We often had assignments before or after the sessions and broke out into small groups for extended discussion.

The conversations hit me deep and made me think back on different moments in my life when I wished there was more representation — more people who looked like me. Now, I can be that representation.

A Better Understanding of Board Governance

Before this fellowship, I had no idea that serving on a board was so intensive or involved. It requires leaders to make sacrifices, steer a nonprofit and hold it accountable. Today, I have a much deeper understanding of what it means to serve on a nonprofit board and the community change you can create when you accept a board position.

I was paired with a fantastic mentor who poured into me throughout the process. I could share what I was learning and feeling with her and get her perspective on so many things. She shared a lot of wisdom about her journey, which continues to help me today.

READ NEXT: How to Be an Effective Mentor in the Workplace

The Nonprofit Leadership Center asked each fellow to develop a list of the top three nonprofits for which we’d like to serve. They scheduled meetings between those nonprofit CEOs and us to meet and discuss what it looks like to be part of their board. The process helped me immensely to understand expectations and the questions to ask as part of the process.

A Life-Changing Journey

If I could sum up my participation in the Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship in just a few words, I’d describe it as intentional, exciting and life-changing. Yes, life-changing.

This fellowship was not just about going through a program and remembering information; it was about living the experience. I will never forget this opportunity and what I learned, and I’m excited about what it has prepared me to take on next.

And speaking of what’s next, I’ve been in active conversations with several nonprofits about the potential of joining their boards.

Additionally, I’m actively working to advance racial equity every day in any way I can. Beyond diversity council meetings within my organization, I’m having and promoting open, even difficult, conversations and ensuring people feel comfortable discussing this work. For there to be effective change, we all must work together.

About Paula Dang

Photo of Paula Dang, associate director of community donations at Metropolitan Ministries wearing a blue top

Paula Dang is the associate director of community donations at Metropolitan Ministries, where she works with community partners and builds relationships with donors to help meet families’ needs. She is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a degree in public health. She holds her Certificate in Nonprofit Financial Management and Certificate in Fund Development Fundamentals from the Nonprofit Leadership Center. She is also a graduate of NLC’s inaugural Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship.

Image of a Black woman at her desk honing her mental fitness

How to Build Mental Fitness: 5 Tools to Increase Your Leadership Resilience

Charlie Imbergamo | Director of Strategic Programs Resources

What if you could see every challenge as an opportunity to enhance your leadership, team and organization? It’s possible, but it requires mental fitness and leadership resilience. What is mental fitness? How do you increase mental fitness? What are the fundamentals of mental fitness and resilience? In this video, you’ll learn how to build mental fitness with five powerful tools to start using today.

After watching this video, you will:

  • Understand how to tap into your personal power to convert negative situations into positive solutions
  • Have five tools to lead with a more positive mindset
  • Feel empowered and confident to navigate challenges and be present in the now

See all our free on-demand webinars.

Resources Shared in the Webinar

About the Presenter

Kristen Lessig-Schenerlein is an Internationally Certified Leadership and Positive Intelligence Coach, as well as a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Instructor with additional training in Energy Medicine. As a nonprofit founder and executive director with nearly two decades of building, growing and turning around nonprofits, Kristen continues to be the change she wishes to see in the world. Her current passion is guiding powerful, mission-driven leaders and teams through the inner work of linking their power with their passions.

More Tools to Build Your Mental Fitness

How to Calculate the Value of Volunteer Time

Sara Leonard, MBA, CFRE Tips

Some things in life are hard to put a value on — love, passion, dedication, selflessness. These are all attributes volunteers embody, but how can nonprofits determine the value of a volunteer hour?

Each year, Independent Sector gathers data and conducts research on volunteerism in the nonprofit sector. The results of that research provide nonprofits a way to calculate the value of volunteer time. As of April 2022, their estimated national value of each volunteer hour is currently $29.95, up $1.41 since last year.

The hourly value of volunteer time

Why does knowing the value of volunteer time matter?

Understanding the value of volunteers to nonprofit organizations is important because it helps leaders and organizations make a case for volunteer programs, appropriately budget and understand the financial value of what is often perceived as “free” labor.

Additionally, volunteer work varies widely across organizations and functional areas. Some volunteers provide the lowest skilled work while others require extensive training. Recently, my teenage daughter waved a sign outside a food distribution event. Conversely, my nephew is a doctor and volunteers regularly by providing medical support. Is there a difference in the value of volunteer time if a nonprofit had to pay for it? Certainly. Independent Sector does extensive research to factor in those variations, and their estimated national value is a figure your organization can use with confidence when determining the value of volunteer time. 

“Volunteers in the United States are 63 million strong and hold up the foundation of civil society. They help their neighbors, serve their communities and provide their expertise. No matter what kind of volunteer work they do, they are contributing in invaluable ways.”

— Independent Sector

Volunteer work strengthens nonprofit organizations and our communities. Volunteers change lives, and this volunteer hour calculator will help you show the strong business case for volunteers within your organization.

READ NEXT: 5 Creative Ways to Recognize Volunteers

Get Your Certificate in Volunteer Management

The Certificate in Volunteer Management from the Nonprofit Leadership Center prepares nonprofit leaders and volunteer managers to better recruit, retain and reward their volunteers in light of today’s challenges and ever-changing environment. The curriculum is designed by Hands On Network and facilitated by NLC Trainer Sara Leonard, MBA, CFREThrough three interactive, high-energy virtual workshops, you’ll learn comprehensive strategies and techniques to use immediately at your organization in the following areas:

  • Understanding volunteering: Current trends and motivations
  • Planning your volunteer program
  • Recruiting and placing volunteers
  • Orienting and training volunteers
  • Supervising volunteers
  • Evaluating your volunteer program

Upon completion of this program, you will receive the Florida Association for Volunteer Resource Management Certificate. Attendance at all three sessions, completion of assignments and passing module tests are required to earn the certificate.

Sara Leonard, MBA, CFRE, is a solutions-oriented advancement professional with more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit development and administration. Her company, the Sara Leonard Group, provides consulting, coaching and training to fundraisers, CEOs and nonprofit board members. Prior to launching her consultancy in 2015, Sara worked in the nonprofit sector raising funds for health care, educational and cultural organizations. She is also a former employee of the Nonprofit Leadership Center and continues to facilitate classes in fund development for NLC. Sara is widely considered an expert in crisis fundraising and has guided organizations through capital campaigns, both large and small. She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Tampa and an MBA from the University of South Florida. She’s a Certified Fundraising Executive and has been named as a Master Trainer by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Sara serves on the board of directors of the Suncoast Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and New Tampa Young Life. She lives in Tampa with her husband and two children.

Want to be the first to hear about the latest nonprofit tips, resources and training classes at NLC? Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter to help you thrive personally and professionally. 

Image of five nonprofit leaders who share tips for how to ask your boss for training

How to Request Training from Your Boss

Team NLC Tips

You’re ready to grow your skills and career. You’ve found the perfect professional development opportunity. But you’re not sure how to request training from your boss. What if they think it is too expensive? What if they say no?

Most managers want team members who proactively seek personal and professional development, but asking your manager for training can feel awkward or intimidating. Nonprofit leaders who champion a culture of learning within their organizations share their top tips for how to request training from your boss and take the fear out of the process.

How to Request Training: Tips to Ask Your Manager

1. Raise your hand.

Headshot of Freddy Williams, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast

Freddy Williams, President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast

Talent development is a business imperative, and most managers are typically looking for employees who are eager to grow. But knowing which employees are motivated to pursue such growth isn’t always apparent. Raise your hand to show your manager you want to grow personally and professionally.

As a CEO, I am consistently looking for the next generation of leaders to develop because with strong leaders comes a more effective, productive, efficient and motivated workforce that will drive business results and program impact. It is not a matter of resources to cover talent development costs; there is an opportunity cost to not investing in staff development.

2. Be mindful of your organization’s process and budget cycle.

Headshot of Lisa Suprenand, CEO, Ronald McDonald House Charities Tampa Bay

Lisa Suprenand, CEO, Ronald McDonald House Charities Tampa Bay

When you make a training request, first ensure you meet with the decision-maker. While your direct supervisor should be an important part of that conversation, your HR department may be responsible for coordinating or approving training requests. Understanding how your organization plans for training and the process will help you succeed.

Be mindful of your organization’s budget cycle and plan to ensure your training request can be included in the budget, especially if there’s a substantial cost.

Finally, when making a training request, share how your personal goals and the organization’s goals intersect and how the training will be mutually beneficial.

If your training request is denied, clarify the process for requesting professional development, state your interest to be considered for upcoming opportunities and keep the conversation open.

3. Elevate the ROI of your training request.

Headshot of Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj

Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, Producing Artistic Director and Resident Playwright, American Stage Theatre Company

When asking your manager for training, be sure to present the benefit of the training to both you and your organization.

Headshot of Kim Jowell, CEO, Hillsborough Education Foundation

Kim Jowell, CEO, Hillsborough Education Foundation

I always appreciate when a team member has done their research on a training opportunity and comes prepared to share why it is important to them and how it will benefit them and the organization.

4. Make a clear case.

Headshot of Jennifer Yeagley, CEO, St. Petersburg Free Clinic

Jennifer Yeagley, CEO, St. Petersburg Free Clinic

Be specific about the details of your training request, such as the cost, location and timing, so your manager does not have to do any research on their own. Frame your training request, so it’s clear how the opportunity will enhance your performance and benefit your organization.

Here’s a sample of how to request training from your boss:

There’s a week-long grant writing training coming up. It costs $X and is remote. I’ve looked at my schedule, and I can meet all deadlines and participate in this opportunity with some advance planning. This training will help me strengthen my skills in grant research, grant budgeting and post-award support, all goals we identified for me this year. Investing in this development opportunity for me personally will also translate into a more efficient grant development process for our organization, allowing me to better support my colleagues while identifying new grant opportunities. This can all mean reduced costs and increased revenue for our organization.

As a supervisor, this would be a hard request to turn down, assuming your organization has a culture of employee development and a budget set aside for training.

Find Nonprofit Training

Now that you have the confidence to ask your manager for training, explore upcoming nonprofit training classes and certificate programs designed to strengthen your skills, organization and community.

Three volunteers with a nonprofit staff member talking about a project

Volunteer Resources for Nonprofits

Team NLC Tips

According to the most recent report from the U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 62.6 million Americans — about 1 in 4 U.S. adults — volunteer. LinkedIn reported that its users added more than 110,000 volunteer activities per month during the pandemic, double the rate of 2017. Given the significant, and often critical, role volunteers play, nonprofits must be armed with volunteer resources to better manage, support and recognize their volunteers.

In addition to helping strengthen our communities, volunteers bring numerous benefits:

  • An hour of volunteer time is worth an average of $28.54 to the nonprofit they support (Independent Sector).
  • Volunteers are almost twice as likely to donate to a charity than those who don’t volunteer (The Corporation for National & Community Service).
  • 92% of human resource executives agree that volunteering for a nonprofit can improve an employee’s leadership skills (Deloitte).
  • Volunteers are 66% more likely to donate financially to the nonprofit they support than those who do not volunteer their time (Volunteer Hub).
  • Volunteering decreases the likelihood of high blood pressure development by 40% (WebMD).

To help you maximize your volunteer relationships and program, Nonprofit Leadership Center Trainer, Sara Leonard, curated this list of volunteer resources for nonprofit leaders.

Volunteer Resources

How to Find Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Match

United Way

Volunteer Research & Reports

Volunteer Value and Statistics by State | Independent Sector

Civic Engagement Research | Points of Light

Volunteering in America | Americorps

Volunteer Recognition Days

MLK Day of Service (January 17)

National Volunteer Week (Third week in April)

9/11 Day of Service

Giving Tuesday (Tuesday after Thanksgiving)

Cause Awareness Days

Other Volunteer Resources

Florida Volunteer Protection Act

Volunteer Management Software Comparison (2020)

Get Your Certificate in Volunteer Management

The Certificate in Volunteer Management from the Nonprofit Leadership Center prepares nonprofit leaders and volunteer managers to better recruit, retain and reward their volunteers in light of today’s challenges and ever-changing environment. The curriculum is designed by Hands On Network and facilitated by NLC Trainer Sara Leonard, MBA, CFREThrough three interactive, high-energy virtual workshops, you’ll learn comprehensive strategies and techniques to use immediately at your organization in the following areas:

  • Understanding volunteering: Current trends and motivations
  • Planning your volunteer program
  • Recruiting and placing volunteers
  • Orienting and training volunteers
  • Supervising volunteers
  • Evaluating your volunteer program

Upon completion of this program, you will receive the Florida Association for Volunteer Resource Management Certificate. Attendance at all three sessions, completion of assignments and passing module tests are required to earn the certificate.

Brian Butler, featured alongside NLC staff and board members, receiving the Lightning Community Hero Award

And the Lightning Community Hero Award Goes to…

Team NLC News

Brian Butler was a board member for several nonprofits when he started receiving two to three requests a week from organizations suddenly looking to diversify their boards after George Floyd’s murder in 2020.

“Brian, will you serve on my board?”

“Brian, will you introduce me to someone of color to serve on my board?”

It was overwhelming. But it was also the spark that ignited a transformative idea to bring much-needed change to the Tampa Bay community and beyond.

A Perfect Storm Inspires Action

Brian Butler is president and CEO of Vistra Communications, a native Floridian and an engaged leader in the Tampa Bay community. He and his wife Maureen have been part of the Nonprofit Leadership Center for years, serving as trainers, mentors and advisors and volunteering their services to strengthen the nonprofit sector.

After the deluge of requests to serve on nonprofit boards, Brian’s good friend, Ernest Hooper, former Tampa Bay Times reporter and columnist and vice president of communications for United Way Suncoast, reached out to him. He, too, had received a flood of invitations to serve on more boards.

Brian and Ernest were tired of people asking for lists of Black friends for board service. Research from BoardSource shows 1 in 4 nonprofit boards lack any members of color, and only 38% of nonprofit executives say their boards reflect the communities they serve. Brian and Ernest committed to doing something to create a pipeline of minority talent in Tampa Bay and to prevent great local talent from being overlooked.

They met with their friend, Bill Goede, Bank of America Tampa Bay market president. Together, the three of them talked about possibilities to solve this challenge in our community.

That’s when Brian reached out to Emily Benham, CEO of the Nonprofit Leadership Center, to gauge our interest in developing a program to prepare and place more professionals to serve on nonprofit boards and equip nonprofit organizations with knowledge and skills to advance their commitment to DEI.

Lasting Change Starts with the First Step

After six months of research, planning, funder outreach and preparation, the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship was born. In October 2021, 22 fellows graduated from NLC’s inaugural program and now have the tools to be effective board members. Twenty of those graduates are currently serving on nonprofit boards or actively engaged in the board discovery process.

Image featuring the 2021 Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellows

Fellows reported a 40% increase in their knowledge and skills after completing the program.

National board governance expert Vernetta Walker says NLC’s Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship is precisely what the nonprofit sector needs and a unique model in the nation with its training for both professionals of color and nonprofit organizations as well as its mentoring and mutual accountability components.

“The Nonprofit Leadership Center is identifying and preparing exceptionally diverse leaders for nonprofit board service and addressing the often-cited excuse that it is difficult to find qualified, diverse leaders. No more excuses. This program is leveling the playing field.”

Vernetta Walker, national board governance expert

READ NEXT: 8 Things Leaders Who Authentically Embrace Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Believe

It Only Takes a Spark to Ignite a Lightning Bolt of Change

Brian’s mother was at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. She believed that every child should have access to good books and a quality education.

On March 19, 2022, Brian was honored as a Lightning Community Hero at the Tampa Bay Lightning home game against the New York Rangers, alongside the Nonprofit Leadership Center, for their collective work to create the Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards program. Brian’s mother passed down a spark, and that fire continues to burn bright as he champions this program and community to make a lasting difference.

Watch the video played in the arena when Brian received the Lightning Community Hero award:

In 2011, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife, Penny, launched the Lightning Community Hero program, a collaboration of the Vinik Family Foundation and the Lightning Foundation to celebrate deserving Heroes and distribute funding to nonprofits throughout the Tampa Bay community. At each of the Lightning’s regular season and playoff home games, a local Hero is honored, and a nonprofit of their choice receives a $50,000 grant.

As part of this prestigious recognition, the Nonprofit Leadership Center received a $50,000 grant to:

  • Grow the Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards program by adding two annual fellowship classes to educate, train and prepare 50-75 new racially and ethnically diverse board members each year.
  • Successfully match all fellows with mentors — professionals of color who serve as engaged and effective board members today.
  • Increase the board governance knowledge and skills of participating fellows by a minimum of 40%, as measured by pre-and post-evaluations.
  • Achieve 90% of fellows joining nonprofit boards or actively seeking board service within six months of graduation.
  • Add scholarships for both professionals of color and nonprofits needing financial support to enable their participation.

We estimate that thousands of individuals in the Tampa Bay community will benefit indirectly from this program through increased diversity and community representation on many nonprofit boards.

And it’s all because Brian not only believed there had to be a better way; he chose to do something about it.

Introducing the Certificate in Leadership Class of 2022

28 Nonprofit Leaders Selected for 2022 Certificate in Leadership Program

Team NLC News

Leadership is paramount to succeed in today’s ever-changing world, but there is often a deficit in training and preparation for nonprofit professionals moving into leadership roles. To prepare the next generation of nonprofit professionals to lead our dynamically changing sector, the Nonprofit Leadership Center created the Certificate in Leadership program. This unique, 10-week learning experience brings together nonprofit leaders who are new to managing people or programs in an inclusive, collaborative environment to develop the qualities and skills necessary to lead with authenticity and impact. The program is made possible with generous support from Florida Blue.

We’re thrilled to introduce the 28 outstanding nonprofit leaders who will be part of the Class of 2022. Participants were nominated to apply by leaders in their organization or community, and then their applications were reviewed as part of a rigorous selection process.

Certificate in Leadership Class of 2022

Meet the Certificate in Leadership Class of 2022

  • Avery Anderson, Director of Marketing and Communications, American Stage Theatre Company

  • Christine Bond, Executive Director, St. Vincent de Paul Community Kitchen and Resource Center

  • Sarah Bou Zeidan, Finance & Admin Manager, Glazer Children’s Museum

  • Jessica Buckley-Lewis, Shelter Manager, The Haven of Hope Villages of America

  • Tammi Casagni, VP of Programs and Operations, Dawning Family Services

  • Taisha Edwin-Williams, Program Director — Layla’s House, Champions for Children

  • Marcia Hall, CEO, Mrbubblez, Inc.

  • LaShondria Hart, Founder, Let’s Go Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead, Inc.

  • Scott Hinckley, Account Director, Allegiance Group

  • Candace Hulcher, Vice President of Business Development, St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce

  • Frances Luna, Program Manager, Hispanic Services Council

  • Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, Producing Artistic Director and Resident Playwright, American Stage Theatre Company

  • Andrew Maurin, Executive Director, Suncoast Voices for Children

  • Molly May, Learning Services Manager, Goodwill Industries Manasota, Inc.

  • Erica Moody (Nelson), Director of Operations, University Area Community Development Corporation, Inc.

  • Heather Navratil, Director of Governance & Strategic Initiatives, United Way Suncoast

  • Genevieve O’Donoghue, Director of Children & Parenting Services, Operation PAR, Inc.

  • Xavier Oliver, Volunteer Program Manager, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas & West Pasco Counties

  • Alyssa Potter, Program Director, Gulf Coast JFCS

  • Rosaida Rolon, Senior Services and Compliance Manager, Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay, Inc.

  • BJ Santiago IV, Volunteer Operations Manager, Feeding Tampa Bay

  • Meagan Smithyman, Associate Executive Director, Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA

  • Alejandra Sosa, Prescription Health Program Manager, St. Pete Free Clinic

  • Alexandra Srsic, Team Leader — Veterans Team, Bay Area Legal Services

  • Carolyn Taylor, Program Manager, Cove Behavioral Health (Formerly DACCO)

  • Michael Thomas, Community Collaborations Coordinator, Juvenile Welfare Board

  • MaryBeth Williams, Executive Director, Friends of the Riverwalk

  • Dr. La’ Toya Worlds-Bell, Director of Residential Programs, St. Petersburg Free Clinic

Powered Through Partnership

NLC’s Certificate in Leadership program is possible thanks to generous support from Florida Blue.

NLC and Florida Blue logos: A partnership to develop emerging nonprofit leaders in Tampa Bay

Florida Blue’s Market Leader of West Florida, David Pizzo, shares why it is so important to Florida Blue to support nonprofit leaders through the Certificate in Leadership:

Making a Career and Community Impact

Graduates from the Certificate in Leadership report measurable increases in skills that are critical for long-term success and impact:

  • After the program, 100% of participants agreed they could respond authentically to the changes and challenges facing today’s nonprofit leaders, up from 59% before the program began.
  • Participants’ ability to understand themselves and manage their organizational responsibilities increased from 88% to 100% from the beginning to the end of the program.
  • 100% of participants agreed they understood their leadership style and could develop a plan to enhance their skills after the program, up from 77% before the program began.

Learn more about NLC’s Certificate in Leadership program here. For questions and more information about the new Certificate in Leadership, contact us at or 813-287-8779.

Be the first to know about new events and news for nonprofit leaders by signing up for our email list and following us on FacebookLinkedInInstagram and Twitter.

Save the date for the 2022 Nonprofit Leadership Conference: September 28, 2022

Announcing the 2022 Nonprofit Leadership Conference

Team NLC News

Do you remember what called you to a life of purpose and service?

What continues to call you to keep showing up for your community no matter the adversity?

At the 2022 Nonprofit Leadership Conference on September 28, 2022, you’ll rediscover what drives you and how to harness it to effect lasting change.

2022 Nonprofit Leadership Conference Logo: Save the Date

Called to Action

The theme for this year’s Nonprofit Leadership Conference is Called to Action.

For nonprofit leaders and organizations, the past few years have challenged and changed us. We’ve dug deeper and pushed boundaries. We’ve reinvented how to fundraise and engage. We’ve experienced immense energy and intense exhaustion.

But leaders like you were called to nonprofit work for times like this.

At the 2022 Nonprofit Leadership Conference, you will reflect on what called you to a life of purpose and renew your commitment to strengthening your nonprofit and community. Equal parts motivation, conversation and education, nonprofit leaders will come together — yes, actually come together in person at the Tampa Marriott Water Street — as champions for change to move our sector and communities forward. 

In the coming weeks and months, we’ll reveal the impressive line-up of speakers, breakout sessions and activities — all focused on our shared calling and how to move it forward with clarity, courage, and conviction. 

In the meantime, get excited to meet your 2022 conference keynote speaker.

Meet Your 2022 Keynote Speaker

Image of Nataly Kogan

Burnout has become one of the most talked-about workplace and life topics, and its impact is far-reaching. But too much of the conversation is focused on the problem rather than what we can do to break free from burnout. 

In her best-selling book, “THE AWESOME HUMAN PROJECT,” Nataly Kogan offers proven science-backed and engaging methods to help us break through the cycle of daily burnout and make emotional fitness a number one priority. 

Nataly immigrated to the US as a refugee from the former Soviet Union when she was 13 years old. Starting her American life in the projects and on welfare, she went on to reach the highest levels of corporate success at companies like McKinsey & Company and Microsoft, as a managing director at a capital firm, and as a member of the founding team of five startups and tech companies. But after years of chasing a non-existent state of nirvana, Nataly was not only unfulfilled; she suffered a debilitating burnout that led her to find a new way to live and work. Today, Nataly helps Awesome Humans live and work with more connection, joy and meaning. Nataly is a sought-after keynote speaker and has appeared in hundreds of media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, TEDx Boston, SXSW, The Harvard Women’s Leadership Conference, and The Dr. Oz Show. Nataly is also a self-taught abstract artist.

Secure Your Spot

The Nonprofit Leadership Center’s Leadership Conference is the premier event for anyone who works for a nonprofit, wants to work for a nonprofit, serves as a nonprofit board leader or partners with nonprofits. Join hundreds of nonprofit and business leaders to learn from and connect with each other as we work to strengthen our skills, organizations and communities.

Ticket options are available for individuals and teams.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

This year’s Leadership Conference would not be possible without the generous support of our passionate partners that believe in our nonprofit community’s importance and impact. We’d like to extend a special thank-you to our presenting sponsor, Bank of America, our lead conference supporter since 2011.

If you’re interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities, contact

Be the first to hear about 2021 Leadership Conference announcements and other upcoming events for nonprofit leaders by signing up for our email list. Be sure to follow the Nonprofit Leadership Center on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

Why have a DEI committee: DEI roles and responsibilities

Why a DEI Committee is Essential for Your Nonprofit: How to Get Started

Chris Johnson, Board Member & DEI Committee Chair Tips

Why is it important to have a DEI committee? What does a DEI committee do, and what are the DEI committee roles and responsibilities? Nonprofit Leadership Center Board Member and DEI Committee Chair Christopher Johnson answers these questions and more.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and concepts like DEI committees and DEI statements have become common topics on social media and inside boardrooms across America. But to truly embrace an authentic culture of DEI, organizations must understand why having a DEI committee is important and what it exists to authentically achieve.

In 2020, the Nonprofit Leadership Center (NLC) established a DEI committee to ensure all its work is viewed through a DEI lens. The committee evaluates everything from employee policies and program development to hiring and decision-making. This article offers advice based on what NLC’s DEI committee has learned to assist more nonprofits in moving their DEI commitments forward.

Why Have a DEI Committee?

Addressing social issues in the communities we serve is the heart of nonprofit work. Our communities are diverse, composed of many unique humans with different cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, races and experiences. Having a DEI committee helps ensure the diversity and reality of our communities are reflected in every aspect of our missions. While DEI committees will be different at every organization, the central purpose is the same — to serve as an authentic and proactive filter to assess policies, procedures and programs.  

For example, the NLC DEI committee recently served as a filter in reviewing the employee handbook. We assessed the paid holiday policy and provided Juneteenth as a new paid holiday while adding two floating holidays so staff can celebrate the occasions important to their cultures and beliefs. 

Successful organizations understand that the spirit of DEI doesn’t live with the DEI committee. The committee ultimately serves to help all staff and stakeholders become true DEI champions

Why have a DEI committee? Quote from Christopher Johnson that says: "Successful organizations understand that the spirit of DEI doesn't live with the DEI committee. The committee ultimately serves to help all staff and stakeholders become true DEI champions." 

Who Should Be on Your DEI Committee?

As you structure your DEI committee, start by keeping these three things in mind:

  1. Bigger is not better: Keep your DEI committee small and manageable, especially at first, so you can be intentional about the work. At NLC, we started our committee with four board members and one staff member. Having an odd number of members is helpful when voting or decision-making may be required. While a smaller DEI committee is ideal, be sure to create a clear path in which other board members and staff can communicate with the committee, raise topics and provide feedback to ensure all voices are heard.
  2. Think beyond your board: Look for leaders with diverse backgrounds and a genuine interest and passion for DEI work. Because 84% of nonprofit boards don’t have any leaders of color (BoardSource), it may be important to think beyond your board. If your organization lacks a diverse leadership team, consider inviting a partner or close stakeholder to join or contribute to the group to ensure all the voices you want and need are reflected.
  3. Look for long-haulers: A DEI committee is called a committee for a reason. It is not a task force with a beginning, middle and end to a project. DEI is an enduring value system that doesn’t have a finish line. The work must be intentional, continuous and ever-evolving. Look for members who are committed to long-term, significant engagement.

Roles and Responsibilities: What Does a DEI Committee Do? 

A DEI committee will look different at every organization, but there are several common DEI committee roles and responsibilities:

  • Identify what the committee wants to achieve and why: Being intentional about your purpose and progress is essential. Based on your nonprofit’s mission, how does or should the presence of a DEI committee impact or improve your work? Why are you creating this committee?
  • Assess your organization’s current DEI efforts: To help your committee set goals and objectives, conduct an organizational assessment. At NLC, our assessment included analyzing our board’s composition, available programs, employee policies and more. An assessment offers a strong starting point from which to set priorities.
  • Create your nonprofit’s DEI statement: This is a set of beliefs that guides everything your organization does. It should include both your convictions and commitments and come to life not just as words but as actions. You can see NLC’s diversity statement here.
  • Set goals, objectives and key milestones for the committee and your nonprofit. Based on your assessment, begin prioritizing your commitments and get to work. But start small — don’t try to do 10 things at once. Remember, this work doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it have a finish line.
  • Meet regularly. Your DEI committee should meet regularly to ensure this work remains a top priority for the organization. At NLC, our DEI committee meets once between every board meeting, typically monthly. Additionally, stay connected via email to share information and educate each other. Provide reports at each board meeting on your progress, and bring new learnings to the larger group of leaders. 

READ NEXT: Addressing Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

How to Measure Your DEI Committee’s Impact

There are many ways to benchmark your DEI committee’s progress.

First, in your internal and external surveys, be sure to capture if your audience identifies you as a DEI champion. To what extent do they agree or disagree with statements related to your DEI commitments? 

Another way to benchmark and measure progress is through an assessment like the Intercultural Development Inventory® (IDI®). It assesses an organization’s intercultural competence — its capability to shift cultural perspective and appropriately adapt behavior to cultural differences and commonalities. The IDI consists of a 50-item online questionnaire that can be completed in 15–20 minutes and identifies individual and organizational gaps to create a plan for your organization. 

The Nonprofit Leadership Center’s Program Director, Meriel Martínez, is a certified IDI facilitator. To learn more about how to schedule an IDI assessment for your organization, contact Meriel at

The key is to move with intent. It’s not just enough to define your commitment; you must carry it forward with authenticity and action. 

About the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s DEI Committee and DEI Statement

The Nonprofit Leadership Center established its DEI committee in 2020, chaired by Christopher Johnson, senior social responsibility specialist at Mosaic. Additional members include NLC board members Cheryl Brown, Michelle Hamilton and Luis R. Visot. NLC approved its current DEI statement in September 2021, which is as follows:

The Nonprofit Leadership Center is fully committed to leading by example in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion principles in the nonprofit sector. We are taking intentional steps, guided by these convictions:

  1. We believe nonprofit leaders should reflect the communities they serve and that DEI practices make meaningful representation possible.
  2. We believe knowledge and talent are foundational to developing a mindset that infuses DEI principles in an organization’s culture.
  3. We believe NLC is well-positioned to partner with and support nonprofits in their DEI efforts.

As a reflection of our commitment to foundational and evolving DEI practices, NLC will:

  • Make DEI part of its DNA.
  • Be a champion to advance diverse leadership and encourage the nonprofit community to do the same for more effective representation of the communities they serve.
  • Be an advocate for embracing uniqueness with the expectation of fair and equitable treatment while ensuring a sense of value and belonging for all.
  • Be aware of both the internal resources NLC can harness and the spaces where it will need to bring in external knowledge and expertise.
  • Commit to a plan of continuous learning to advance its understanding and the manifestation of the principles of DEI.
  • Using data, include feedback from sources such as NLC students, the community, and stakeholders to inform its course of action annually.

Learn How to Craft Your DEI Statement & Put It Into Action

How should your nonprofit explore and articulate its commitment to DEI? [HINT: It’s more than just having a DEI statement]

During our upcoming course on June 7, Going Beyond a DEI Statement: Strengthening Your Organization’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, you will answer this question, assess your organization’s DEI practices and leave with an understanding of how to begin articulating your nonprofit’s commitment.

Image of a woman writing in her notebook next to the words 2021 Year in Review

The Year of the Growth Mindset: 4 Impact Headlines from 2021

Team NLC News

The past year was both painful and extraordinary. While we witnessed workforce challenges, decision fatigue and organizations working to address diversity, equity and inclusion, we also saw nonprofits respond with speed, greater mission focus and grace. It’s no question that 2021 was another challenging year for nonprofits and communities, but it also brought growth, new learnings, innovation and progress.

As your partner in developing and connecting nonprofit leaders to strengthen organizations and communities, the Nonprofit Leadership Center (NLC) is proud to share four results from 2021 that directly reflect our shared success.

READ NEXT: 2021 State of the Nonprofit Sector: Where We Are and Where We Go Next

Four Reasons to Celebrate from 2021

1. More nonprofits are creating learning cultures.

According to the Association for Talent Development, a culture of learning is one in which employees continuously seek, share and apply new knowledge and skills to improve individual and organizational performance. The importance and pursuit of learning are organizational values and permeate all aspects of organizational life. But research has shown that just 1 in 10 companies have an authentic learning culture (Corporate Executive Board).

At the Nonprofit Leadership Center, we believe learning happens continuously and in many ways, from training classes and events to small-group learning circles, one-on-one coaching and professional mentorship. In 2021, the number of nonprofit organizations participating with NLC in three or more different learning experiences increased 10% from 2020 and is up 43% since 2019. The number of unique organizations committed to learning is also up 10% from the previous year.

This means that nonprofit leaders are moving beyond attending single training events or webinars when budgets allow to investing in lifelong learning cultures where teams and organizations adopt a growth mindset to thrive.

2. Leaders are craving longer-term, more transformational learning experiences.

In 2021, we saw nonprofit leaders gravitate toward multiple-session series and learning experiences with more peer and trainer interaction over longer periods. While single training attendance was still up from pre-pandemic norms, nonprofit leaders increased their engagement in NLC programs like the Certificate in Grant Writing and Certificate in Volunteer Management. Knowledge gained and shared fosters leadership and fuels change. Nonprofit leaders are craving more human connection and smaller-group settings to interact, exchange ideas and grow.

3. We’re advancing racial equity on nonprofit boards.

National research shows that 1 in 4 nonprofits lack representation from professionals of color on their boards (BoardSource). In July 2021, we launched our inaugural Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship. This transformative experience brought outstanding professionals of color together to learn how to serve as effective nonprofit board members. It also equipped local nonprofit organizations to be genuinely ready to welcome these new members onto their boards. 

Twenty-two fellows graduated from the program. At the time of their graduation, eight fellows had already been invited to apply for and join a board or committee, and 12 were in active conversations with at least one nonprofit of their choice, with a visible path toward future board/committee service.

Image featuring the 2021 Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellows

This transformational program will help create more diverse, equitable and inclusive nonprofit organizations and was made possible thanks to the vision and generous support of Allegany Franciscan Ministries, Bank of America, Citi, Community Foundation Tampa Bay, Duke Energy Corporation, Florida Blue, Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, United Way Suncoast, and Vistra.

4. We expanded our team to better support yours.

As a nonprofit that exists to support other nonprofits, the Nonprofit Leadership Center expanded our team and strategic focus areas to bring you even better programming and connections. We welcomed two new staff members, Tess Plotkin and Meriel Martínez, and three new board members. Three staff members also received advanced certificates to expand our learning opportunities for nonprofit leaders, including a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Governance, Certified Facilitator of the Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP) and Certified Facilitator for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI).

Lead for Impact in 2022

Move your nonprofit and community forward with courage and conviction in 2022 by joining the Nonprofit Leadership Center for an upcoming professional training workshop, virtual course, certificate program or customized training for your organization.