Twenty-four nonprofit leaders of color have been named to the third and latest cohort of the Oishei Fellowship for Leaders of Color by The John R. Oishei Foundation. Those chosen as Fellows will attend the Rockwood Leadership Institute’s rigorous Art of Leadership program in October and join a growing community of more than 70 outstanding leaders of color in the WNY region.
The Oishei Foundation began the program in 2019 as part of its focus on racial equity and in response to a compelling need for nonprofit leadership cultivation, particularly among people of color in the WNY region.
As was the case in late 2020, the leadership training program will be conducted virtually due to the pandemic rather than as a five-day, in-person retreat. It is still planned to be an intensive program with day-long sessions over five days at no cost to the participants. Interest in the program continues to be strong, indicating a significant need in the Buffalo Niagara region for leadership development and due to the enthusiastic experiences of those in earlier cohorts. Past participants have called the program “transformational” and “life-changing.”
The cohort was thoughtfully vetted and chosen by the Rockwood Leadership Institute with a focus on creating a cohort of 24 fellows that represent a broad cross-section of self-identified nonprofit professionals of color. The cohort includes a diversity of gender, age, spiritual practice, types of organization, and professional experience. The 24 will join the current community of 47 Fellows, who share close bonds of friendship and collegiality, and who continue to strengthen their leadership practice together through ongoing professional development opportunities.
According to Karen Lee Spaulding, Vice President of Philanthropic Support who spearheads the program at The John R. Oishei Foundation, “As the Fellows program begins to mature, we are seeing the significant impact it has had in strengthening the leadership practice of nonprofit leaders of color. We regularly hear from our Fellows about the shifts they have experienced in perspective, the bonds they have forged with their peer Fellows, and the clarity they have gained on their personal and professional purpose. We believe that focus on and investment in these individuals will help our region develop a strong pool of formidable leadership who can offer their lived experience, expertise, and perspective in all levels of nonprofit organizations.”
Those chosen as Oishei Fellows include
Natasha Almonte, Pinnacle Community Services
Brian Archie, Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative
Brandi Barrett, Fruit Belt Community Land Trust
Thomas Beauford, Jr., Buffalo Urban League
Kimberly Brown, Evergreen Health
Timothy Chen, Grassroots Gardens of WNY
LaShawn Chinn, Hope Bound Ministries/Felician Services Inc.
Sigourney Cook, King Urban Life Center, Inc.
Alessandra Paola Duarte, West Side Youth Development Coalition, Buffalo State College
Wil Green, Canisius College
Dejia James, The New York Immigration Coalition
Nekia Kemp, Police Athletic League of Buffalo
Kimberley LaVare, Community Access Services of WNY, Inc.
Stephani Miranda, Community Access Services of WNY, Inc.
Marie Moy, Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition
Kenya Peoples, Buffalo Promise Neighborhood
Rene Petties-Jones, National Federation of Just Communities of WNY, Inc.
Simone Ragland, WNY STEM Hub, Inc.
Cassandra L. Salter-Smith, Niagara Falls Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative
Melissa Schindler, Native American Community Services of Erie & Niagara Counties
Melissa Somerville, Catholic Charities of Buffalo
Maiko Tanaka, Squeaky Wheel
Dionne Williamson, Upward Design for Life Corp.
Deirdre Wright, Heart of the City Neighborhoods, Inc.
The Art of Leadership teaches critical personal and organizational leadership skills necessary for successful and sustainable leadership including powerful visioning, listening, speaking, presentation, coaching, collaboration, and feedback skills. In addition to participating in the retreat, each participant will undergo a 360-degree leadership assessment and will receive a comprehensive workbook and electronic resource filled with tools and processes to use within their own organizations. They will be also part of the 8000+ national and international member Rockwood Community of Practice, which provides post-training learning opportunities through alumni gatherings and social media tools.
Selection criteria for the program included possessing personal and professional readiness to learn new leadership skills; an interest in participating in a rigorous learning experience; demonstrated commitment to improving the wellbeing of all people in the Buffalo Niagara region; representing a meaningful cross-section of nonprofit professional backgrounds, experiences and sectors; and representing a diversity of racial/ethnic communities.
The John R. Oishei Foundation is the most comprehensive private foundation in Western New York focusing on a broad range of interrelated issues and offering philanthropic support that goes far beyond funding. Our mission is to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life for the Buffalo Niagara region through grantmaking, leadership, and network building. The Foundation was established in 1940 by John R. Oishei, founder of Trico Products Corporation.