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INsights Discusses Advancing People of Color at Nonprofits

Ali Hogan and Leslie Gill (speaking) lead session on advancing people of color in nonprofit leadership at the Delmar DivINe on October 19, 2023.

Last month, the Berges Family Foundation Conference Center at Delmar DivINe hosted the latest iteration of INsights. Co-sponsored by the Clark-Fox Policy Institute, Center for Human Service Leadership (CHSL), and Delmar DivINe, the session was titled “From Ally to Co-Conspirator: Advancing People of Color in Nonprofit Leadership.” Leslie Gill, president of Rung For Women, and the agency’s founder, Ali Hogan, were featured speakers. 

Together, Leslie and Ali engaged in a wide-ranging and interactive discussion, moderated by the director of the CHSL, Barry Rosenberg, about the very real barriers to success for People of Color trying to be accepted in leadership positions, including challenges like fundraising among white donors, winning the confidence of the staff and the board, and building trust with stakeholders.

Leslie made a point of singling out trust as the key component.  At Rung for Women, “We invite uncomfortable conversations based on trust and the assumption of good intent. That helps us move forward. That’s how we get grounded in our work.”

The discussion, including the questions and comments from the engaged attendees, made it clear that the value of having People of Color in leadership roles cannot be understated. It’s not just about representation; it’s about infusing organizations with a richness of perspective, experience, and innovation.  When agency leadership truly reflects the diverse communities that most nonprofits serve, we not only foster equity and inclusion but also fortify the foundation of mission-driven work.

The seminar was based on a briefing paper created by CHSL.  In addition, the participants worked to identify strategies and/or tools they felt were most needed or would be most effective for both their own organizations and the St. Louis nonprofit sector as whole to elevate more People of Color to nonprofit leadership. The results help us consider how we might move from ally to co-conspirator.

Please save the date for the next edition of INsights on Thursday, February 22, 2024 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for this important discussion.

This story was written by Jorge Riopedre, Executive Director of the Delmar DivINe.