Calling All Future Board Members of Color for Project LEAD

By United Way of King County, on November 22, 2022 | In News

The lack of diversity on nonprofit (and corporate) boards has been a long-standing concern. According to a recent study by BoardSource, only 6% of nonprofit board chairs identified as Black, 5% as Latino and 2% as Asian or Pacific Islander. This lack of representation on boards and board leadership presents challenges to the work that nonprofits do and their influence in the communities they serve. United Way’s Project LEAD program was started more than 30 years specifically to address this gap in board diversity.

Project LEAD stands for Leadership Effectiveness and Diversity and is an intensive training program to prepare people of color to further develop their leadership and management potential. The program is intended for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) professionals, getting them ready to join nonprofit boards, and have their voices heard in these important decision-making spaces. 

Here is what Esther Yang-Duquez, Project LEAD’s Program Manager has to say to any prospective applicants:

Esther Yang-Duquez, Project LEAD’s Program Manager

“Increasing BIPOC leadership visibility is a strong value of mine, and I am honored to be a part of raising the next generation of BIPOC leaders. Having had a diverse upbringing, I have seen first-hand the gifts and talents that BIPOC communities contribute to the larger picture, and my career has always brought me back to empowering my communityyou all. If you are thinking of applying, I hope you don’t hesitate to join us! I am looking forward to developing relationships with Project LEAD’s Class of 2023 and witnessing each participant’s growth.”

During a month-long training, participants learn about board operations, fiscal management, collaboration and conflict resolution, strategic fundraising with a racial equity lens, and so much more. More than 1,200 graduates have completed this program, with many of them now serving on boards of local community organizations, putting into practice what they learned through the program and the connections and relationships they built with their cohort.

Here is what a recent graduate, Poornima Dani of Microsoft, shared about their experience in the program: 

Poornima Dani, recent graduate, Microsoft

“Project LEAD gave me the opportunity to understand how I can best get involved in a cause I’m passionate about. I had never known much about what it meant to serve on a board before, and this United Way program gave me a lot of basic groundwork and understanding in the governance and fiduciary responsibilities involved. The different guest speakers and the interactive group activities made the course extremely engaging, despite it being virtual. Because of this program, I was able to reconnect with ROOTS Young Adult Shelter, a nonprofit I have volunteered at in the past, and now serve on their board! I’ve found the experience extremely rewarding and feel equipped for it thanks to the information I gained from Project LEAD.”

Project LEAD returns to in-person programming this year after a gap during the pandemic. This year, the program will be held in March 2023 at K&L Gates. Applications are due on November 30, 2022, and people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply. We are anticipating lots of exciting energy as we adjust to gathering and learning as a collective. Learn more at

Shoutout to Project LEAD 2023 sponsors, Brighton Jones and K&L Gates, for their ongoing support and partnership.


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