Philly pilot program seeks to train next generation of LGBTQ board members

Executive Director of the Office of LGBT Affairs Amber Hikes (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Executive Director of the Office of LGBT Affairs Amber Hikes (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

After a study released in early 2017 from the Philadelphia Commission for Human Relations found that the majority of LGBTQ organizations in the city are run by gay white men, the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs is accepting applications the LGBTQ Community Leadership Pipeline pilot program. The program is specifically focused on increasing board membership to LGBTQ people of color, transgender people, youth, and elders.

“We haven’t seen a coordinated push for change on a level like this that has been so intentional about diversity and inclusion really ever in this particular community with this initiative,” said Executive Director of the Office of LGBT Affairs Amber Hikes. “But, I do think it has a lot to do with some pretty systemic issues that we have here in the city and in the community as a whole.”

According to Hikes, leadership is especially important in order to provide innovative solutions to the communities that local LGBT organizations work to serve.

“When you have low-income folks or people of different socioeconomic groups around the table, then they are able to see these issues within our community from a completely different perspective and also be able offer diverse solutions,” she said.

The six-month program beginning October 22 will include monthly nonprofit leadership and skill-building training sessions, a stipend, and the opportunity to serve on a participating organization’s board. Perhaps the most important component is those joining boards through the program will not be expected to generate financial support for the organization right away. Hikes says this requirement is often a big barrier to being more inclusive. The practice is sometimes derided as “give-to-get.” It can serve to keep the most important decisions in programming and community services in the hands of a moneyed few.

”We’re eliminating those calls, we’re paying people for their participation, we are waving ‘give-get’ for all organizations, so that’s important,” Hikes said. “If they have a financial contribution expected of board members than it will be waived for the first year.”

The program intends to build skills in fundraising, development, donor relations, and fiscal sponsorship.

“The idea is that after going through this program, after serving on a board for a year, those folks, if we’ve done our job right, those folks should be able to fundraise for that ‘give-get’ on their own,” she said.

Applications for the LGBTQ Community Leadership Pipeline are open until October 1.

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