Introducing the Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards 20a22 Fellows

23 Leaders Selected for 2022 Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship

Team NLC News

In response to research that shows nearly 1 in 3 nonprofits lack any professionals of color on their boards (BoardSource) and to foster more inclusive and equitable communities, the Nonprofit Leadership Center launched the Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship in 2021. This transformational, 15-week program is designed to strengthen the board governance knowledge and skills of professionals of color while equipping nonprofit organizations to be genuinely ready to welcome these new members onto their boards. 

During the program’s first year, fellows reported a 40% increase in their board governance knowledge and skills after completing the program, and 95% of fellows were invited to serve on a nonprofit board or are in active conversations with at least one organization about board service. 

“If I could sum up my fellowship in just a few words, I’d describe it as intentional, exciting and 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.

Paula D., 2021 graduate
Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship

Today, we are thrilled to announce the 23 fellows selected for the 2022 program. After a competitive application process, these professionals of color will participate in intensive and engaging training 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.

Colorful image featuring all 23 fellows' headshots in gold, orange, red and blue.

Meet the 2022 Fellows

Alejandro Ortiz, vice president, commercial relationship manager, PNC Bank

“As a Latino and someone who was not born in this country, I recall the obstacles my family and I faced when we first moved to the United States. I have seen and experienced first-hand what it is like to be a minority in this country. Growing up in a small city in Rhode Island, it was difficult not seeing others of my color leading the community I lived in. Being able to help a nonprofit board understand what works and doesn’t work for the Latino community will help provide better results to the community they serve. I feel it is my duty if given the opportunity to share my story and insightful feedback in hopes of advancing racial equity.”

Andre Curry, registered nurse and certified health coach, Florida Blue

“As professionals of color, we have a crucial role to play in breaking the negative stereotypes that have been placed on our shoulders, and we must work diligently to promote, advance and advocate for the people and communities we serve. Expanding my reach into our communities by being active with nonprofit boards provides the opportunity to be an active participant so our voices will be heard, barriers will be broken and progress will be made.”

Ángela Fernandez, vice president private client manager, Bank of America

“We all need a helping hand and guidance at some point. Helping our community by volunteering, showing compassion, listening and sending out a strong message goes a long way.”

Dr. Angela A. Scott, co-founder and chief operating officer, Growing Human Capital with a S.M.I.L.E., LLC

“I believe when people know they belong, their performance and results are exponential. In participating in this fellowship, I will gain hands-on experience to function as a nonprofit board member and bridge my realities with the organization’s vision to create equitable opportunities to meet the mission.”

Brittainy Joyner, associate attorney, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP

“As a community leader, you use your tools and abilities to navigate situations and fix problems. Being a professional of color has shown me that, sometimes, when there is no person of color in any leadership position, our issues sometimes can be misconstrued or left out entirely. Because of this, I always try to look at all angles of a problem and analyze situations for all people who could be impacted. Nonprofit board service gives me a path to intentionally make space for positive outcomes for a nonprofit through diverse ideas and concepts.”

C.T. Harris, CEO, Entrepreneur

“I like to consider myself a devout advocate for the voiceless, underserved and overlooked. Serving on nonprofit boards enables me to not only advocate for others; it allows me to bring resources and ideas to the forefront of those citizens and communities typically forgotten. I strive to do the work that will make an impact and a difference in the lives of everyday people. This is my why.”

Carla Bourne, ophthalmologist — surgeon, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, teaching faculty, University of South Florida, and CEO, OCBRA Advantage, LLC

“As a surgeon in academic medicine, I have participated in admissions panels where minority students with competitive grades were overlooked because they did not graduate from the ‘right school’ or have the connections to have the ‘right person’ make a call on their behalf. This disparity is one of the reasons I feel passionate about mentorship and advocacy. By offering a fresh perspective as a minority female who was raised overseas and has overcome challenges to find her place in a male-dominated field, the vast experience gained through my time spent teaching, mentoring and providing medical care will be the foundation to develop a powerful voice for change.”

Chantel Evans, accounting supervisor, The Bank of Tampa

“I’m excited for the opportunity to be a part of an organization that amplifies BIPOC voices and includes them in spaces that there’s a need. I hope to gain the skills necessary to be an effective board member for a nonprofit. I look forward to contributing innovative ideas and additional insight on how nonprofits can better serve our communities.”

Christopher Butler, director of business strategy and operations, Vistra Communications

“Making sure there are multiple perspectives and voices in the room when ideas and decisions impacting our community are shared and implemented is necessary to have the most inclusive and comprehensive strategies for our community as a whole. I believe my perspective, along with others who are underrepresented, is important to have available and be shared on nonprofit boards, where many of these organizations function and impact those very voices that are underrepresented or not represented at all.”

Christopher Hackney, SVP, SBA regional sales manager, BayFirst National Bank (formerly known as First Home Bank)

“As a professional of color, I am often in spaces where I am the minority, which can be intimidating to some and make you feel not as valuable as the majority. As I grew into my career and as a community leader, my perspective evolved as I realized there is considerable value in being a person of color in these spaces through opening doors for other minorities and unrepresented groups. Community leaders should not look alike because communities are not homogeneous. They are diverse, fluid and ever-changing. Organizations must be open to diverse leadership, leveraging the pool of burgeoning talent of people of color ready to take the lead.”

Cliff Stanley, CEO, Coast to Coast Business Consulting

“Although nonprofits have the best intentions, leaders are often making decisions for problems they can’t personally relate to or have never experienced. To create life-changing impact in under-resourced communities, it is vital to have diversity amongst leadership. Through this fellowship, I hope to gain the opportunity to represent the change we need in these environments to learn and share my experience to benefit our communities.”

Cord McLean, director of leadership development and DEI, Bloomin’ Brands

“Being a professional of color, especially working in the DEI space, has made me acutely aware of the deep work that still needs to be done in our organizations and communities. As a Black man who has achieved success in education and my career, it is my duty to give back and continue pushing for equity across many aspects of difference. If we want to see more representation, we have to be willing to step up and be the representation when the opportunities emerge. I am interested in learning more about how my skills and experiences can be cultivated to be of service in this community.”

Corey Baker, financial center manager, Fifth Third Bank

“Being a professional of color has impacted my perspective on being a community leader because I believe in racial diversity and inclusion and being an example first to direct others in need of information that can guide lives and build those in poverty that their creativity matters “

Dr. Katrina Esau, CEO and president, KE3 Worldwide Enterprises

“Being a professional of color, I see first-hand how opportunities are not always equal. While diversity and inclusion come up often, it’s only in the past two to three years that we are finally seeing traction. We’ve moved from talking about it to taking action. It’s because of this experience I believe there is so much more I can do outside of my job. There is education and exposure that needs to occur in our communities before people even get into the corporate world. I want to be positioned to not only learn about those opportunities but determine how I can contribute to making a difference.”

Erica Sutherlin, director of community engagement, American Stage Theatre Company

“Being a community leader is highly important to me as a professional of color because I believe the community needs to see themselves reflected in leadership. Growing up, when I saw someone who looked like me in positions of leadership, I believed in myself enough that I could achieve those goals. And this act of modeling and reflection must continue to foster new leaders — a necessity for the cycle to continue to truly diversify leadership.”

Karen Lewis, VP of information technology, Franklin Templeton

“Being a professional of color not only requires dedication, knowledge and experience; it requires grit and resilience. We are often not the first selected for the next role, opportunity or the interesting work/stretch assignment. I have learned to never give up and to always find a way to achieve my and my firm’s goals. I’ve had to learn to become a leader and lead with empathy while empowering individual accountability. I believe these skills are critical in a community leader. And though we have many people of color who have these skills, the missing link is being involved in the community and focused on the community. I believe with support of this fellowship, I can leverage these skills to be an effective community leader.”

Kenneshia M. Martin, CEO/real estate consultant, Martin Mortgage Financial, LLC

“There are many great and noble causes and ideas within the nonprofit sector, but organizations must recognize and understand the issues of diversity and equity within our community. This fellowship will equip me with the proper professional tools to not only put me in the room but also allow me a seat at the table where diversity can have a voice for understanding and change. As a woman of color with a daughter who attends an HBCU, diversity and equality are not only a passion; this is my mission.”

Larry Jones, analyst, PNC Bank

“As I child, I was taught the more you give the more receive and to whom much is given, much is required. Being someone who has ‘made it out’ has placed an obligation on me I cannot ignore. It motivates me and is the passion that drives me to serve more, do more and help push the next generation forward, so they too, can experience life’s unlimited opportunities in abundance despite where you start or your current situation in life.”

Nikki Barfield, deputy director of supportive services for veteran families, Department of Veterans Affairs — Homeless Programs Office

“I would like to strengthen my community through nonprofit board service because I am a firm believer in being a part of solutions. Although nothing is perfect, maintaining a solution-focused approach toward dealing with challenges is the only way to bring about change.”

Ottesha Williams, owner/operator, The Harvest of Learning Tutoring Service

“As a professional of color, I know how important it is for all youth to see themselves represented. That representation should show up in community leadership positions. Today, there are still many positions that are not held by people of color and that has a huge effect on relationships in the community. I hope to be a part of the change that creates better and more productive relationships that will help build our local communities in this area.”

Patrick Arthur Jackson, associate artistic producer, American Stage Theatre Company

“As a Black, Queer identifying man, I know the power of visible representation and how it impacts those in the community to ignite their own voices as agents of change. I have always been called to opportunities to be an example and directly engage in my community.”

Raul Renderos, vice president, treasury sales officer, Bank of America

“Growing up, I did not have the same opportunities as everyone else. As a Hispanic professional, I realize the importance of helping advance racial equity and inclusion. I would like to ensure others in my previous situation do not feel that disadvantage.”

Tamika Powe, manager, community benefit and health education programs, Tampa General Hospital

“Leaders of color have the unique perspective to help individuals from communities of color acquire the knowledge and skills needed to lead change and development in their community. It is imperative for professionals of color to be involved as leaders in their communities to foster and direct change.”

READ NEXT: Fellowship Graduate Shares Her Journey to Nonprofit Board Service

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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, Bank of Tampa, Bloomin’ Brands, Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Florida Blue, Pinellas Community Foundation, PNC Bank, Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation 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.