Mayes Wilson & Associates

Use your leadership skills to be part of the Tipping Point

Sara Wilson, CPCC |

Since the brutal murder of George Floyd by police I have experienced many emotions–shock, anger, sadness and a sense of being at loss. Loss of what to do, loss at how I, a white person of privilege, can use my leadership skills to make a difference. 

Eighteen years ago, I was leading a board retreat and presenting the results of an assessment where I evaluated the organization’s practices relative to accepted nonprofit standards.  The organization worked in a community that was majority African American.  

But the board room was empty of  black faces. It was full of white people of a narrow age range.  

I called it out.  There was a tangible level of discomfort among the board members.  The statement was made “they aren’t interested in our mission.” What an excuse.  The board hadn’t bothered to ask any community members. 

I now know that was structural racism.

Racism is real in the nonprofit sector. We ALL know it. Yes, there are a few examples of inclusion: funders who require diversity for grant eligibility, the occasional board that truly reflects its community.  

And while I have spoken up for diversity in the board room and in staffing,  I realize I have not always addressed the issue of racism forthrightly. I have not pushed hard to explore the resistance I witnessed or for accountability. 

Today, I commit to the following: 

1. Continue to point out structural racism, even when it’s uncomfortable for me and my clients. 

2. Continue to be a voice for diversity, inclusion and fairness in the nonprofit sector. 

3. Explore my own white privilege and learn about structural racism.

We can help accelerate the tipping point.  We can cause a Ripple Effect by our individual actions and leadership skills.  It’s time to step out of our comfort zones and be instruments of positive change. 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Margaret Mead