Project LEAD: Preparing People of Color for Nonprofit Boards
This guest post is by Yuri Kim, a Project LEAD graduate who works at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He spent 5 and a half years at United Way of King County.
Project LEAD prepares highly qualified people of color to serve on nonprofit boards. It was extremely helpful and influential on my professional development, and I’m thrilled for this opportunity to tell you about it.
I had always been looking for ways to meaningfully give back to the community and felt strongly that serving on a Board of Directors for a nonprofit was the best way for me to do this. However, despite having had experience working in multiple nonprofits organizations, I did not feel prepared to serve on a Board. I was excited, then, when I had the opportunity to take part in Project LEAD (Leadership Effectiveness And Diversity).
What I found to be so unique and powerful about Project LEAD was that it not only provided me with tools and resources needed to be an effective board member, but it did so with a racial equity lens. The program is designed to empower people of color to take leadership roles in their community. During the month of training, we not only discussed about governance and important logistics of serving on a Board (make sure your board provides its members with Director’s insurance!), but we also talked about how being a person of color would impact our experience and how we could advocate for racial equity in the agencies that we served in.
I gained so much beyond the training, too. One of the most important benefits was meeting a diverse group community leaders who shared my passion to serve the community. I have stayed connected with a number of my cohort members since graduating — spending multiple Saturdays in a conference room together will do that to you!
Project LEAD was also my connection to the board I currently sit on. During the Project LEAD graduation, there is always a nonprofit fair where local agencies share about their work and recruit board members. It was at the fair where I chatted with staff from the Hunger Intervention Program, a low-income meals program based in North Seattle/King County. After learning more about the organization, I followed up about joining their board and have been on their board ever since.
My Project LEAD experience at was inspiring, informative, and helped shape the way I serve my community. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who may be interested!