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Meet the 25 leaders of color graduating from Fels’ first board governance cohort

The inaugural cohort outside Fels, with guest speakers. March 5, 2018 Category: FeaturedMediumPeople
Fels Institute of Government’s board governance program is graduating its first cohort this month.

Now called DiverseForce on Boards for its programming partnership with Sulaiman Rahman’s workforce diversity consulting company, DiverseForce, the program specifically trains mid- to senior-level professionals of color on the ins and outs of nonprofit board leadership over seven months.

“We really want to build a pipeline for more diverse leadership of boards in the city,” said Fels’ director of executive education, Claire Robertson-Kraft, about the program last fall.

BMe and The Philadelphia Foundation both provided seed funding to build the program. Knight Foundation contributed support after the program was announced. Most participants paid the $5,000 tuition personally, though some were paid for by corporate and philanthropic sponsors.

About two-thirds of the program’s participants have met with nonprofits for prospective board placement, Rahman said, and some are already going through the board appointment process.

Applications for the second cohort will open at the end of May, and the program will start again in September. Nonprofits in need of board members can indicate their interest here.

Meet the 25 members of the inaugural cohort:

  • Yusuf Abdul-Kareem, assistant director for diversity initiatives, Law School Admission Council
  • Dr. Deleah Archer, founder and CEO, Education Services for All
  • Kimberley Brown, U.S. medical director, The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
  • Melinda Brown, site director of higher education programs, YearUp Philadelphia
  • Danielle Burnett, counseling director and mental health therapist, Ellis Elementary School
  • Cynthony Dench, manager of AP employee programs, Comcast
  • Lori A. Dumas, judge in the Court of Common Pleas — Trial Division, First Judicial District of Pennsylvania
  • Kimberly Fields, manager of oncology sales and learning and development, The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
  • Lisette González, community benefits advisor, UPMC Health Plan
  • Deona Hatley, house dean, College House of Academic Services at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Joseph Hill, deputy campaign manager and political director, Tom Wolf for Governor
  • Jhona Ireland, admissions service manager, The Franklin Institute
  • Darryl Irizarry, senior development officer, Community College Of Philadelphia
  • Regina Jones, psychotherapist and educator, University of Pennsylvania
  • Janea Jordon, executive VP, Office of Audit and Compliance at the Philadelphia Housing Authority
  • Lisa Lewis, assistant federal public defender, District of New Jersey
  • Jessica Lili, director of operations and talent community manager, DiverseForce
  • Veniece Newton, founder, Community Angel Foundation
  • Dr. Brian Peterson, director, Makuu: The Black Cultural Center at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Shahid Rana, VP of business development, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership
  • Andrea Ranton, business initiatives consultant, Wells Fargo
  • Sarah Robbins, project lead for STE(A)M Scholars, Diversity in Healthcare Pipeline, District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund
  • Melissa Sims, senior marketing manager, Vanguard
  • Jonathon Soussa, director of operations, Active Case Management
  • Kimberly Talley, VP, Patient Care Services at Christiana Care Health System

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