Leaders in Giving: Ten African-American Women Who Are Making An Impact At Nonprofits

December 12, 2012  |  

Women make up only 21 percent of leadership roles at nonprofit organizations with more than $25 million budgets, according to the “Benchmarking Women’s Leadership” study from the Women’s College of the University of Denver and The White House Project.

And minority women, including African Americans, make up an even smaller percentage. Here are some amazing African-American women who are leading cool nonprofit organizations across the country.

Beverly Bond, CEO of Black Girls Rock!
Launched in 2006, Black Girls Rock! is a youth enrichment and empowerment program based in New York that encourages young black women to get involved in music, culture, and the arts. Founder Beverly Bond has grown the organization to include a leadership camp and an annual awards show, which took place for the seventh time in 2012 and aired on BET on November 4.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President & CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey has her MD from Harvard Medical School and her MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. She brings both of those together as president and CEO of the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation, a philanthropic organization devoted to improving public health with programs addressing childhood obesity, health coverage, and vulnerable populations.

Connie Lindsey, National President of the Girl Scouts of the USA
It makes sense that the Girl Scouts of the USA has women in leadership roles, led by CEO Anna Maria Chavez. But national board member and African-American Connie Lindsey currently serves as the national president of the Girl Scouts and also works full-time as the executive vice president and head of corporate social responsibility at Northern Trust in Chicago.

Chymeka Olfonse, Executive Director of Minds Matter
Founded in 1991 in New York City, Minds Matter connects underserved, high-performing high school students with professionals to mentor them. Chymeka Olfonse started as executive director at Minds Matter National Inc., which is now in 10 cities, and specifically for Minds Matter of NYC. Her previous positions gave her experience in education, at the New York City Department of Education and The After-School Corporation (TASC).

Daniella Gibbs Léger, Vice President, American Values & New Communities at the Center for American Progress
The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan educational institute, and it also includes a diverse group of leaders, including Daniella Gibbs Léger, who serves as vice president of American Values and New Communities for the Center. Her past has been in politics, serving as special assistant to the president and director of message events in the Obama administration.

Laysha Ward, President of Community Relations & Target Foundation

Technically, Laysha Ward works for a corporation: Target. But in her role as president of community relations for the company, she also serves as the head of the Target Foundation, which supports social services and the arts around the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN area, where Target in based. Ward is also active in other philanthropic and nonprofit organizations, including serving on the board for the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Executive Leadership Council for African-American executives, as well as being a member of The Links, an international woman’s service organization.

Imani Walker and Malika Saada Saar, Founders of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights
The duo of Imani Walker and Malika Saada Saar founded The Rebecca Project for Human Rights in 2001 to advocate for vulnerable women and girls in the US and Africa. The organization has fought against sex trafficking, gendered violence, poverty, and exploitation, and provided programs for leadership, advocacy, and family treatment. Walker currently serves as executive director for the Rebecca Project, while Saar serves as the executive director of a new organization, Human Rights for Girls.

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green for All
California-based Green for All works to bring together environmental protection and improving the economy. CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is a well-known figure, speaking on behalf of the organization to promote green programs, which also bring about new “green” jobs. Here’s a video with some of her appearances.

Trish Tchume, Director of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network
Hired in September 2011 as the first national director for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, Trish Tchume was a long-time member of the organization, which promotes the development of young professionals working in the nonprofit sector. YNPN currently has 34 chapters with more than 40,000 members across the country.

Johnnie Savoy, President and CEO of College Bound California
Johnnie Savoy, along with her husband Andy, were struggling with how to prepare their son for college, when the idea for College Bound California was born. Since its founding in 1990, the organization has helped more than 750 students prepare for admission into and success during college, through programs and services including test prep, academic reviews, summer enrichment opportunities, and career awareness programs.

 

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