April 22, 2019
Mass. Nonprofit Leaders Urged to Advance Diversity, Inclusion

October 11, 2018 — Massachusetts nonprofits need to actively increase diversity at the board and executive management levels to help address growing inequality, for its own sake and in light of the certainty that people of color will outnumber whites in the larger community within 25 years, a statewide gathering of nonprofit leaders was told yesterday.

"If we do not address these problems now, we’ll become South Africa with a large number of people of color poor and uneducated. It's not who we are as a country," said Carol Fulp, present and CEO of The Partnership, Inc., a Boston nonprofit that helps develop multicultural leadership in corporations and institutions.

The solution lies, in part, in forging partnerships between nonprofits and businesses, she told about 600 attendees at an annual conference in Framingham convened by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN), the state's nonprofit trade association.

She and fellow panelists—Elaine Ng, chief executive officer of TSNE MissionWorks, a Boston-based nonprofit that provides management support and capacity building services to nonprofits in Massachusetts and across the country, and Deborah Re, president and CEO of Big Sister Association of Boston, a nonprofit that helps girls realize their full potential by providing them with positive mentoring relationships with women—agreed that nonprofit leaders need to take risks to bolster the level of diversity, equity, and inclusion within their organization.

"You have to be willing to make mistakes, learn, and grow," said Re, noting that "it absolutely takes time" for efforts to increase the level of diversity in management ranks and requires board support..

Bringing greater numbers of people of color into nonprofit governance and leaderships however, is not the ultimate goal, according to Ng.

"Diversity is the low hanging fruit," Ng said, adding that the challenge is changing the way decisions are made.

"The heavy lift is how you leverage diversity to build an organization with equity at its core," Ng said.

Fulp advised that nonprofit managers constantly interview potential job candidates whether or not they have any openings. If they find someone who they'd like to hire but have no budget for that slot, she suggested asking a corporate partner to fund the position, at least for a year.

The panel discussion launched what is one of the largest gatherings of nonprofit leaders held each year in Massachusetts. Yesterday's conference logged 650 registrations.

Two Mass. Nonprofit Leaders Receive Lifetime Achievement Awards

MNN conferred Lifetime Achievement Awards on two Massachusetts nonprofit leaders at the conference:

Carol Duncan for her extensive service to the Greater Lowell community in her roles at nonprofits, on boards of directors, and as an experienced educator. She served as executive director of Girls Inc. from 1991 to 2013. During her tenure, Duncan oversaw a $400,000 renovation to the organization’s office to expand program capacity, and significantly elevated its public profile, receiving the national Girls Inc.’s Outstanding Affiliate Award two consecutive years.

Duncan remains active on numerous boards of nonprofits in retirement, including at Challenge Unlimited at Ironstone Farm, the Whistley House Museum of Art, the Patient Care Board at Lowell General Hospital, and the advisory board of the Angkor Dance Troupe.

Hubie Jones for his contributions to the social justice movement in Boston, where he has held numerous positions in academia, founded several nonprofits, served on multiple nonprofit boards, and played a leadership role in the social development of the city and its people.

Jones is dean emeritus of the Boston University School of Social Work. Earlier, he was special assistant to the chancellor for urban affairs at the University of Massachusetts Boston, an associate professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was acting president of Roxbury Community College.

Jones played a key role in the formation, rebuilding, and leadership of at least 30 community organizations within the black community and across the city. In 20 of these organizations, he served as chairman of the board or executive director. His leadership roles include executive director of the Roxbury Multi-Service Center, board chairman of the Massachusetts Advocates for Children, and board president of Roxbury Youthworks, the Roxbury Community College Foundation, and the Citywide Educational Coalition.

He founded Higher Ground, modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone, and the Boston Children’s Chorus.

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