DiverseForce on Boards, the board governance program that has been training and matching professionals of color since 2017, will welcome its sixth cohort this September.
Its fourth and fifth cohorts are currently engaged in the seven-month curriculum that includes nonprofit marketing, fundraising, and strategic planning all with a DEI lens during monthly day-long sessions at Pennovation as well as in online modules.
In the course of three years, the program has expanded its reach to over 200 nonprofit partners in which participants can be placed, and over 80% of participants were matched within a year of program completion.
While the statistics related to the program outputs are solid, what is equally impressive is the sense of community and connection the program has created.
“My niche over the years has really been building these networks and communities so that was a really important piece of the puzzle, the social capital development, ” said Sulaiman Rahman, who founded the DFoB program as part of his DiverseForce workforce diversity consulting firm and is also the founder of the Urban Philly Professional Network (UPPN).
The program provides leadership development via executive coaching and opportunities for creative collaboration via active alumni engagement.
Up next for Rahman is the opening of a workforce development facility in Germantown this summer. The Public, Private, and Philanthropic Partnership (P4) Hub will continue the work of expanding and strengthening the pipeline of POC professional talent in Philly that has become synonymous with the DiverseForce brand.
I briefly spoke with three past participants of DiverseForce on Boards about their experiences.
Scientific director, research and development for Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, Johnson & Johnson
Current Boards: Vetri Community Partnership, PAFA, The Junior League of Philadelphia
“I do credit the program with helping me with being promoted into a role in research and development because I was able to show business acumen, I was able to show the ability to connect folks across the organization as well. With my team now, they laugh at me because I’m always pushing the idea of networking and community engagement down their throats.
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“I think [DiverseForce] not only enabled me to have a greater community impact, I think it’s helped me to be a better businesswoman and to think more strategically. And it’s helped me connect with the community in a larger way, but also more within J&J as well.
“The connections and relationships I was able to gain and glean out of going through this program are almost like my friends from college that you still keep in touch with many years down the line. It’s really that type of relationship, even though we haven’t known each other for very long, we’ve gone on vacation together, we talk about business and doing some things together later this year. It’s been a really great support system.”
Mental health consultant and practitioner; associate dean of health and wellness, Bryn Mawr College
Board Experience: Ivy Legacy Foundation, Gestalt Training Institute of Philadelphia, Mental Health Partnerships
“Organizational effectiveness is another important component that you learn about during the board governance program. Thinking about structure, responsibilities, effective communication, what leadership should look like has helped me here [at Bryn Mawr].
“There’s this constant back-and-forth in terms of sharing resources and accessing resources, which I think is really powerful particularly for folks of color in positions where you may be able to influence some change or even create a crack in the door so that other folks can come in.”
Principal, Envoy Growth
Current Boards: Youth Sentencing and Reentry Project (YSRP), Committee of Seventy, and the Eastern Steering Committee for Draw the Lines.
“The cohort model is particularly valuable because it provides participants with a network of passionate and engaged professionals of color who become long-lasting thought leaders and partners.
“ [DFOB] has been a thoughtful and inspiring journey to better understand the mechanics of nonprofit operations and has equipped me with the skills needed to immediately become an effective board member.”-30-
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