The John R. Oishei Foundation is pleased to announce the second cohort of its Oishei Fellowship for Leaders of Color that includes 24 nonprofit leaders from the Buffalo-Niagara region. Those chosen as Fellows will attend the Rockwood Leadership Institute’s rigorous Art of Leadership program, this year held virtually, comprising intensive day-long sessions over five days at no cost to the participants.
The Oishei Foundation began the program in 2019 as part of its focus on racial equity and in response to a growing need for nonprofit leadership cultivation, particularly among people of color in the WNY region. Despite a change from the traditional five-day, in-person retreat to a virtual setting due to the pandemic, there was strong interest in the program.
Like the first cohort, the new group represents a broad cross-section of outstanding self-identified nonprofit professionals of color that represent a diversity of gender, age, spiritual practice, types of organization, and professional experience.
Those chosen as Oishei Fellows include (link to bios and photos here):
- Durgham Alyasiri, Community Schools Zone Leader, Say Yes Buffalo
- Tia Brown, Community Engagement Coordinator, Preservation Buffalo Niagara
- Danielle Burruss, Communications Coordinator, Neighborhood Health Center of WNY
- Terrell Chambers, Financial Empowerment Advisor/Housing Intake Specialist, Catholic Charities of Western New York
- Stephanie Drzymala, Staff and Volunteer Coordinator, Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences
- Kelly Dumas, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, BestSelf Behavioral Health
- Collin Gehl, Talent Acquisition & Development Manager, Child & Family Services of Erie County
- Jillian Hanesworth, Director of Leadership Development, Open Buffalo
- Jalonda Hill, Paralegal/Community Organizer, Western New York Law Center
- Pete Hill, "All Our Relations" Special Initiatives Coordinator, Native American Community Services of Erie & Niagara Counties, Inc.
- Pamela Jackson, HUD Certified Housing Counselor and Financial Coach, Belmont Housing Resources for WNY
- Sarah Johnson, People and Operations Manager, City Year Buffalo
- Erika Kastel, Director of Development, Literacy Buffalo Niagara
- Brandy Loveland, Coalition Director of Community Engagement, Erie County Restorative Justice
- Robin Mann, Executive Director, Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Inc.
- Sherrell McLean, Care Coordinator, Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network
- Seeta Persaud, Director of Development and Communications, Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo
- Elhanna Porter, Employment and Training Manager, Visually Impaired Advancement
- Yanush Sanmugaraja, Economic Development Director, Westminster Economic Development Initiative, Inc.
- Maiko Tanaka, Executive Director, Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center
- Renata Toney, Communications Manager, Burchfield Penney Art Center
- India Walton, Executive Director, Fruit Belt Community Land Trust
- Richie Wills, Program Assistant and Teaching Artist, Just Buffalo Literary Center
- Travis Wood, Administrative Coordinator Safety Net Association of Primary Care Affiliated Providers
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 7000+ national and international member Rockwood Community of Practice, which provides post-training learning opportunities through alumni gatherings and social media tools.
According to Karen Lee Spaulding, Vice President of Philanthropic Support at The John R. Oishei Foundation, “We saw tremendous enthusiasm for the program in our first group of Oishei Fellows and we are delighted that their experience has encouraged others to apply for this year’s program. Our region can only be strengthened by having more people of color in positions of leadership in every corner of an organization, offering their lived experience as well as their expertise and perspective. Our focus at the Oishei Foundation is to invest in these professionals and to provide more tools for them to strengthen their leadership practice, both personally and professionally.”
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 applicants were vetted and chosen by Rockwood Leadership Institute.
The Oishei Fellowship for Leaders of Color is part of the Oishei Foundation’s commitment to racial equity and is strategically aligned with the Foundation’s focus on providing resources and support to local nonprofits beyond grantmaking in the areas of leadership development and network building.
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.