Bringing Black People to Boards and Commissions

 Photo by IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock / Getty Images

From Durrel's Facebook Post:

We discussed launching a project aimed at placing more Black people on government/NGO Boards and Commissions at our last meeting.  Some of you were involved in the discussion, others just got added because you came to mind.  


Working on a Board/Commission is a great first step that allows individuals to understand how entities actually operate.  


Though these initiatives exist in some form today, the organizations running them don't reach our community/age cohort the way we can, nor are the curricula designed through a Black/Millennial-centered lens... it's usually more "Friends" than "Livin' Single" if you get my drift.  Further, I believe that the effectiveness of projects like these is lost when top-heavy organizations attempt to take them on.  


I'm looping in Tarsha Jackson who runs the Criminal Justice campaign for TOP since they were doing something similar, and she might be able to provide pointers as we lay our foundation.


To make this happen, we plan to:

  1. Develop a Black/Millennial-centered curriculum outlining the necessary tools to being a successful board/commission member. This would include, but not limited to Robert's Rules of Order.  It would also include assignments like watching the episode of Insecure where the main character had to maneuver her non-profit employers leadership to get the right tools to the students they were serving.  
  2. Plan the inaugural two-day workshop that our first cohort would have to attend to become "Fellows" or whatever designation we'll give to those who have the HJC stamp of approval.  This will include a panel discussion or two from those currently/formerly serving on Boards/Commissions discussing what they learned, and what they wished they'd known.  Further, how they used their seat to make concrete advancements.  Lastly, we'd have a couple non-profit executives and/or elected officials to keynote.  We want our Fellows to leave not only knowing how to apply for these positions, but be prepared to be thought leaders at the table.
  3. Develop an online clearinghouse for those ready to serve.  Once completing the workshop and gathering a better idea of HOW they want to serve, they'll walk away with a spot in our online clearinghouse.  You'd be surprised how many Boards and Commissions are looking for Black Millennials, but don't know where to find us.  We'll fix that.  THIS IS THE STRONGEST PART OF OUR PROJECT.  There's nowhere one can go to flip through a book of US, with bios where selections could be made.
  4. Research the local government entities that use Boards and Commissions.  We need to know what the terms of service are, when the deadlines to apply roll by, and to whom we need to be working with directly at each of these entities over the next 6 months.  Additionally, the same can be done for non-profits.

I'm looking forward to the magic that we'll make, evidenced through the changes made to decision-making tables.  I've served in every capacity from volunteer, to executive, to Board member on both government and non-profit boards.  There's a HUGE gap when it comes to people who look like me in rooms where decisions are made and checks are cut.

For starters, I'd like to get your initial thoughts, and what seems like a realistic next step.  Further, reply to me if you're still on board with pulling this together.  If your plate is too full, or you don't see the vision, no hard feelings.

In my head, we start with a Google doc that serves as an "Idea Garden" for now, then plan to link up specifically about this in a few weeks before it's stale.