BBLI is a one-of-a-kind leadership training program, under the umbrella of Leadership Orlando, that brings together both nonprofit organizations and leaders with the goal to guide culture change and create an ideal environment of inclusion of diverse voices in service to boards.
Earlier this month, the Black Boardroom Leadership Institute (BBLI) welcomed 18 members from nine local nonprofit organizations for the second nonprofit cohort. The program is designed to ensure that Orlando’s nonprofit leadership reflects the diversity of our community, fosters an inclusive atmosphere where minority leaders have a voice at the table, not just a seat on the roster.
BBLI is a one-of-a-kind leadership training program, under the umbrella of Leadership Orlando, that brings together both nonprofit organizations and leaders with the goal to guide culture change and create an ideal environment of inclusion of diverse voices in service to boards. Each nonprofit organization will all be represented in the program by their senior leader and a senior board member.
“BBLI has really made a difference in the conversations that were had and how we are intentional about improving diversity, but most importantly equity for our community. Hearing from past BBLI graduates on how they have learned to address unconscious biases or how they are unapologetic about pursuing a seat at the table, is very gratifying. It is a testament to what we have built over the last few years,” Nisha Brice, Director, Strategic Investment & Impact for the Orlando Economic Partnership, said.
BBLI, said Deloria Nelson Streete, who oversees building the curriculum as well as facilitating the program’s activities which are divided into two, six-month programs: the nonprofit and the leadership track.
The nonprofit track, which recently started, is for organizations interested in creating an inclusive environment on their boards, while the leadership track is for individual Black leaders who desire to serve authentically on a local board.
Nelson Streete, whose coaching and consulting firm helps organizations navigate ways to increase or impact positive cultures through inclusion, said that “the power, the beauty and the innovation of BBLI is its intentionality. If you bring in more diversity, more Black people, more people of color to your boards and to the discussions being had daily, you will learn a lot. And it’ll be a lot more impactful to the communities that you live in and serve in.”
Advancing inclusion on nonprofit boards and growing Orlando’s talent pipeline is something that sometimes “is easier said than done, but we are here putting that mission and those words into action,” said Susan Vernon-Devlin, immediate past president of the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden and manager of marketing at UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management.
Vernon-Devlin heard about the program from other members of the community and past participants who were all singing praises of the program and how it really helped. She said that what really drew her to be part of it is the fact that they have been trying to diversify their board at the Polasek.
In her pursuit to keep pushing for that “color in the room” she tried to bring in new board members “but they did not feel comfortable. So, I felt like there needs to be some change, some movement, some transition in the room to make other people of color, feel comfortable in the room.”
It’s nice to see there are people that represent different areas of our community,” said Adrianna Sekula, Board Chair of Hope Partnership. As Hope Partnership’s board chair, Sekula says she is looking to “grow the board.”
BBLI’s 360 approach addresses both sides, Nelson Streete said. “We’re talking to the nonprofits about what can you do to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment. Then we’re talking to the Black leader saying, what is it that you can do when you get there, to not just take up space, not to just sit when you get the seat, but to advocate and to stand in your truth. And it’s simultaneously that’s different from any other program.”
This is something George Wallace, CEO of the LGBT+ Center Orlando who is participating in the program with Marc Espeso, secretary for the board of the LGBT+ Center Orlando, is looking forward to. They work daily with allies through advocacy, education, information, and support.
Espeso said that he wants to acquire the “best practices and learn and grow from what other organizations are doing because there are really powerful, great nonprofits in the room, and I think that collectively being able to work together and learn what organizations are doing is just a win-win for all.”
Chris Brown, the Executive Director of the Orlando Repertory Theater, said that he wanted to get into the first class and wasn’t able to. “I was just waiting for it to pop up again, and this time around, I got in.”
The 2023 BBLI Leadership Track, which begins on June 29, will open its application process on April 14. To learn more about the program and the application process, you can register for an Informational Zoom Session on April 18, 11 a.m.
For more information on how local nonprofits can get involved with the program, contact Nisha Brice firstname.lastname@example.org, Partnership director, strategic investment and impact. For more information on the program, visit the Black Boardroom Leadership Institute website.
2023 BBLI Nonprofit track:
About Leadership Orlando
With over 7,000 graduates, Leadership Orlando is Central Florida’s only community leadership program that spans across the entire seven-county region and is the largest program in America, offering multiple classes each year. For more, visit LeadershipOrlando.org
About Central Florida Foundation
Central Florida Foundation stewards philanthropic dollars on behalf of individuals, families, and nonprofits. We partner with people who are determined to make a difference in their community. Knowing that true change demands more than dollars and cents, we foster collaboration, fuel ideas, and spearhead the innovation that will transform our region for good. Learn more at www.cffound.org.