Over the past year, Washington Nonprofits has been working with a collaborative of capacity building organizations to improve access to quality leadership development opportunities for nonprofit and community leaders. This Leadership Development Partnership has designed a “Learning Connections” searchable online catalog that will be hosted by 501 Commons and will launch in mid-September. Washington Nonprofits coordinated an effort to hear the voices of some community leaders from underrepresented communities, and we have now published a report summarizing what we heard from 40 participants from across Washington. Here are the key findings:
- Current leadership development programs are not reflective of the diversity of community and nonprofit leaders in the field.
- Racism, ageism, and geography impact people’s access to leadership learning opportunities.
- Underrepresented community members are ready to lead but are held back from formal leadership positions by a number of barriers.
- Mentoring and learning by doing are preferred ways to gain leadership knowledge and experience among the priority users we interviewed.
- A range of solutions, from informal network building and mentoring to formal leadership programs, is needed to develop leadership in Washington state.
- The new Learning Connections online catalog will be used more by underrepresented communities if the roll-out includes targeted outreach and relationship building with these communities.
At Washington Nonprofits, we believe nonprofits are stronger with leadership that reflects the communities being served. We also know that formal leadership training alone is not sufficient—people want opportunities to work side-by-side to learn how to lead. We will work to incorporate these learnings into our work, and we invite you to do the same.