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(SAVANNAH, Ga.) United Way of the Coastal Empire is pleased to announce the graduates of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Nonprofit Leadership Symposium. The graduation took place on Thursday, November 9, 2023, at the United Way of the Coastal Empire office during the Closing Ceremony. The leadership and career development program was conceived in early 2021 in partnership with local Black nonprofit leaders to advance racial equity throughout the region.

“Through my participation in the United Way – Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Nonprofit Leadership Symposium, I have undergone a transformative journey as a leader, harnessing newfound strategies and accountability,” says Lynetta Smith, Executive Director and Co-founder of Combat Boots 2 The Boardroom. “Empowered by a wealth of knowledge, invaluable resources, and a supportive network of peers, I am now equipped to navigate complexities with resilience and purpose within my community and organization.”

The program framework was designed by the BIPOC Leadership Council: Alicia Johnson, Executive Director of Step Up Savannah; Cheri Dean, Vice President of Direct Services and Impact at United Way of the Coastal Empire; Destiny Bradshaw, Founder and Executive Director of Ready2Connect; Doris Williams, Executive Director of The Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire Inc.; Moncello Stewart, Founder and Executive Director of OneSeed, Inc.; and Zelonia Williams, Founder and Executive Director of Future Minds Literacy and Adult Education, Inc., along with United Way Community Investments staff.

“The overall experience of BIPOC Nonprofit Leadership Symposium has been very valuable. The workshop that stood out the most was the Organization Assessment. I never thought a nonprofit organization needs to be assessed but it made total sense once the instructor broke it down. I am grateful to be surrounded by so many other organizations that want to better the world,” said Ariel Brown, Chief of Operations and Program Director of Ash Tree Organization Inc. and one of the BIPOC Nonprofit Leadership Symposium participants.

The program officially kicked off in September when the BIPOC Nonprofit Leadership Symposium cohort met for the first time collectively for the Orientation. The cohort then met to discuss strategies to secure corporate partnerships, the first in a series of free workshops over three months. The program also included sessions on organizational assessment, budgeting, program evaluation, grant writing, marketing, and communications. During the Closing Ceremony, participants had the opportunity to bring their loved ones to join in the celebration of their hard work and many accomplishments—followed by networking with local changemakers.

To date, United Way of the Costal Empire has graduated over 55 BIPOC Nonprofit Leadership Symposium participants. United Way will be extending additional development programs to graduates of the BIPOC Leadership Symposium and other community members in 2024. The launch of the fourth annual BIPOC Leadership Symposium will begin in fall 2024.


Congratulations to our 2023 BIPOC Nonprofit Leadership Symposium Graduates:


Ariel Brown, Ash Tree Organization, Inc.

Carliss Bates, Keep Savannah Beautiful

Dr. Deron E. Davis, Beta Phi Lambda Foundation

Donna Williams, S2S Facts, Inc.

Garrick Duckery, Cater to the Homeless

Jessica Knight, Earl T. Shinhoster Youth Leadership Institute

Judith Feliciano, Touching Hands Cancer Outreach, Inc.

Julius Campbell, Offender Alumni Association

Dr. Kurtis D. Watkins, South University

Labeeb Abdullah, Cater to the Homeless

LaShai Campbell, Restoring the Breach, Inc.

LaToya Scott, Tharros Place

Leslie Reaves, Journeys Is LLC

Lynetta Smith, Combat Boots 2 The Boardroom

Marie Jones, Offenders Alumni Association

Nisha Giustino, Operation Kid Forward

Olivia Nadine, Earl T. Shinhoster Youth Leadership Institute

Shemika Simmons, Ladder Strategies and Solutions

Tommie R. Jones, Union Mission

Yvette McCrea, Unlimited Dimensions, LLC.



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