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23 Leaders Selected for New Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship

Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship
Nonprofit Leadership Center

National research shows 84% of nonprofit board members are white, with 1 in 4 nonprofits lacking representation from any professionals of color on their boards (BoardSource, 2017). To address this disparity and foster more inclusive and equitable communities, the Nonprofit Leadership Center recently launched our new Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship. The program is designed to strengthen the board governance knowledge and skills of participating fellows while equipping local nonprofit organizations to be genuinely ready to welcome these new members onto their boards. 

“In working with hundreds of nonprofit leaders each year to provide board governance training, we consistently hear from nonprofit CEOs that they struggle with how to identify and recruit professionals of color to serve on their boards, with many admitting they don’t know where to start. Our new Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship is an important first step to help create more diverse, equitable and inclusive nonprofit organizations that are better prepared to serve and strengthen our communities.”

Today, we are thrilled to announce the 23 professionals of color who have been selected to participate in this inaugural fellowship after a competitive application process. Fellows will take part in six interactive virtual training sessions to learn how to serve as effective nonprofit board members. They will receive mentorship between sessions by other professionals of color who are experienced board members.

Meet the 2021 Fellows

As the first-ever Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship kicks off today, get to know the 23 outstanding professionals of color in the program. Learn a little bit about their perspectives on leadership and the lived experiences that motivate them. 

Image featuring the 2021 Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellows

1. Junior Ambeau, Associate, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP

“Every action I take can have a broader impact on my community, including how people of color are perceived.”

2. Roxanne Bartley, CEO & Founder, Bartley Ventures, LLC

“By engaging expert stakeholders to provide diversity of thought and experience, brave and bold leaders create a wonderfully dynamic and inclusive environment, where failing fast and forward is our modus operandi.”

3. Maria Carrizosa, Medicare Community Event Manager, Florida Blue

“The racial imbalance within nonprofit boards is an opportunity to bring new, innovative ideas from other cultures and backgrounds to create a more holistic and broad perspective when addressing issues. I am excited to be part of that change.” 

4. Chiquita Clark, Engineering Design Associate — Outage Auditor, Duke Energy

“Being a professional of color has impacted my perspective on being a community leader by allowing me to meet and create opportunities for other people of color, to help identify disparities that may exist in community organizations, and build a legacy that others may follow.”

5. Paula Dang, Associate Director of Community Donations, Metropolitan Ministries

“As a Vietnamese and Asian American woman, life was challenging growing up because I was forced to conform to societal and cultural norms that came with many limitations. At a young age, I decided to take charge of my life and not be who everyone else labeled me to be. I immersed myself in growing my communications and professional skills. As I developed and grew in my career, I became a servant leader dedicated to using my skills, time and voice to fight for more opportunities, causes and equity for everyone. Today, I want to use my experiences to develop and empower others so everyone around me can have a better tomorrow.”

6. Treva Davis, Project Manager at Planned Systems International

“There are many minority women in our community who have a wealth of talent and resources to contribute to the nonprofit sector if given the tools. I would like to use what I learn from this fellowship to assist other African American women in serving on nonprofit boards and leading nonprofits while ensuring we have sustainable health equity in our community.”

7. Emily Diaz, Assistant Vice President, Citi

“Growing up, I saw almost no Hispanic women of color in positions of leadership. Today, I am often the only woman — let alone a Hispanic woman of color — in many business meetings. To change that reality, we must increase our presence as community leaders. As a young professional Hispanic woman of color, it is my duty and privilege to continue learning and using my knowledge to be the leader who can inspire young girls of diverse backgrounds while advancing the success of women and children who have been historically underserved.”

8. Huey Dunomes, Senior Director of Community-Based Programs, Metropolitan Ministries

“Being a professional of color has always made me proud. It has also made me question why there aren’t more like me. Becoming a part of this fellowship program allows me to set an example for the next generation of leaders and enact transformational change.”

9. Deonte Echols, Consumer and Small Business Market Leader, Bank of America

“It is still shocking to some young people to see a young Black man like myself representing my organization. I want to show them what’s possible and that they can do it in their own lives if they believe and work hard for it. I hope to add my voice to ensure diversity and inclusion continue to grow within major companies and that we unify in our efforts to make a difference across many communities and organizations.”

10. Demmeri Gallon, Community Relations Manager; VP, Bank of America

“Diversity of thought and experience is important for any group or organization to succeed. In many leadership circles I’ve been part of, there are very few people of color leading these groups, and even fewer who identify as Black. That can lead to feeling like we don’t have a voice or seat at the table. On the flip side, I’ve also seen how leaders who don’t reflect my background advocate and champion for me, while ensuring my voice can be heard. As an emerging leader, it is my responsibility to now use my voice and skills to uplift those around me who may feel silenced.”

11. LaTora Heath, Research Analyst, Vistra Communications

“A good leader is always learning and does not allow fear to guide their path, even when effecting change might be the unpopular opinion. Doing the right thing is not always easy, and change can indeed be intimidating. However, as one of my favorite quotes by Marianne Williamson goes, ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.’ This is the type of leader I strive to be.”

12. Kieva Kazek, Director of Insurance Sales and Service, USAA

“Being a professional of color has awakened my perspective on barriers that many people of color face, both directly and indirectly. It has motivated me to do the work to inspire change.”

13. Sheena Lofton-Huggins, Executive Director, Pasco Agents for Change

“There have been times I have not been able to access resources that would benefit the students and families my company serves. Through this fellowship, I hope to gain more experience serving and volunteering in the nonprofit sector.”

14. Reneé Long, Legislative Aid, City of St. Petersburg

Being a professional of color has impacted my perspective as a community leader by stressing values of inclusivity. A recent equity profile report of Pinellas County based on 2016 data estimated that without racial gaps in income, the county would be $3.6 billion stronger (Policy Link, 2019). The report notes that the county’s success and prosperity will rely on dismantling unjust barriers. As a community leader, it is vital to be aware and work to break down these barriers.”

15. Stephany Musino, Vice President, Relationship Manager, PNC Bank

“Without having people of color with a voice at the table, there are important needs that could be overlooked. I believe there is much more nonprofits could accomplish by including more professionals of color on their boards. I hope to gain an understanding of how I can prepare myself to be a successful board member and provide different insight as a Latin female.”

16. Esteban Orte, Lead Engineer, Duke Energy

“There is a need for more diverse representation in our professional environment at all levels. My experience has sparked my interest in helping create change for younger generations.”

17. Kiana Romeo, Government Affairs Manager, SHI International Corporation

“Inclusive representation positions nonprofit boards to engage the voices of the community stakeholders we seek to empower. Harnessing the power of diversity of thought and lived experience leads to a deeper understanding of the issues communities are facing and leads to stronger decisions and more effective outcomes.”

18. Julie Sills Molock, Chief Development Officer, EdFarm and The Propel Center

“Being a professional of color has enabled me to share a unique perspective and represent my community to others who may not be as familiar with the strengths and opportunities in these communities. I hope to contribute thought leadership in the areas of digital engagement, marketing, major giving strategies and donor retention for partner nonprofits.”

19. Gerald Thomas, Sales Manager — West Region, Florida Blue

“In some of my experiences, even though I worked incredibly hard for opportunities, I sometimes felt that others thought my presence was not legitimate. I’ve found myself having to prove why I was selected or ‘win over’ teams or clients with my industry knowledge and work ethic. This opportunity will allow people of color to further develop the necessary skills and knowledge to provide their guidance and diverse perspective that is often missing from important organizational decisions and situations.”

20. Jessica Vega-Eugene, Strategic Communications Specialist, Vistra Communications 

“Women of color like me often stand at the intersection of multiple barriers, experiencing the combined effects of racial, gender, ethnic and other forms of bias while navigating systems and institutional structures in which entrenched disparities remain the status quo. As a professional of color impacted every day by racial disparity, I must help reimagine a new way to support everyone. That is the only way a community leader can forge ahead, inspire others and shift perspectives to make way for change.”

21. Reginald Wallace, Development Manager, DeBartolo Development, LLC

“Leadership and bravery go hand in hand. I believe we all have the ability to lead bravely and take bold action for important goals that are worth pursuing.”

22. Andrea Williams, Communications Research Fellow, Diversity Action Alliance

“Leading bravely and acting boldly to me means standing in the gap for those who are oppressed. To utilize your platform, position and voice for change. Being a catalyst or an advocate is not for the faint of heart. Walking in bravery does not mean you don’t have fear; it means that fear has not been granted permission to stop your stance.”

23. Taylor Williams, Financial Center Manager, Officer, Fifth Third Bank

“I feel I have a duty to redefine the view of what it means to be a leader. As a professional of color, I’ve learned there are mounds of competitive advantages that come with diverse perspectives. A leader’s objective should be to allow this to continuously pour over and completely cultivate a community, bringing empowerment to the people.”

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

Powered by Partnership

The Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship is possible thanks to the collective support and unwavering commitment of Allegany Franciscan Ministries, Bank of America, Citi, Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Duke Energy, Florida Blue, the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, United Way Suncoast and Vistra Communications.

Learn More About the Fellowship

Diversity among board members is crucial to ensuring nonprofit organizations have the broad perspectives necessary to be more effective, understand those they serve, meet strategic goals, and engage meaningful donors. The Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship will:

    • Advance racial and ethnic diversity, equity and inclusion on nonprofit boards throughout Tampa Bay
    • Deepen the board governance knowledge and skills of professionals of color
    • Equip select nonprofits to genuinely welcome participating board fellows and ensure their organizations are ready and committed to fostering more inclusive and equitable boards and cultures

    Learn more about the program and how your organization can get involved.

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