UConn Faculty Developing Leadership Program for Nonprofit Leaders of Color

UConn researchers are working with community leaders to develop an educational program to support leaders of color working at non-profits


The UConn Department of Public Policy has received a $45,000 grant from The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to develop a training program for leaders of color at nonprofit organizations.

Dave Garvey, director of the department’s nonprofit leadership program, is the lead investigator on the grant. Garvey is working with Cynthia Rojas, a consultant at Fio Partners, to develop the program.

“Our team is thrilled to partner with The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven Foundation to support BIPOC nonprofit leaders,”  says Mohamad Alkadry, head of the Department of Public Policy. “This project builds on our current strengths in nonprofit leadership development and nonprofit management.”

The nine-month program will assist a cohort of 10 emerging leaders of color from the greater New Haven area in developing skills to support running a nonprofit successfully.

The UConn-led education program will cover essential nonprofit management topics such as finance and accounting, governance, fund development, human resources, strategic planning, program evaluation, stakeholder communications, and community engagement. Seasoned experts in their respective fields will lead each of these sessions.

Garvey and Rojas have assembled a racially and ethnically diverse teaching staff. The program will make the issues and ramifications of race, equity, and inclusion part of every topic it teaches. This approach emphasizes how these issues are integral to every part of nonprofit management and leadership.

“Leadership development intentionally designed for individuals of color must look different than traditional leadership development programs,” Rojas says. “The program intentionally centers race and equity throughout the curriculum. Our impressive lineup of presenters includes leaders of color who can speak to the intersectionality of leadership and inequity.”

The cohort will meet biweekly. Each session will include a lesson and a reflection period in which participants will share their reflections with their peers to develop a stronger dialogue around their learning experience.

The program will be co-designed with participants. While it will use a framework developed by Garvey and Rojas, the team will work with the cohort to incorporate their perspectives and priorities into the model. This will help ensure participants get the most out of the program and that it supports their specific needs and goals from participating.

“Creating change is aligned with creating opportunity,” Garvey says. “Our hope is that providing managerial education to emerging leaders of color already operating in the nonprofit field will be a strategic lever in their advancement into larger leadership roles, and thus increase the diversity of thought and talent in the leadership of the nonprofit sector.”

Participants will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the program and, if applicable, academic credit.

The learning program is one half of a two-year program. In the second year, participants will put the skills they learned in the first year to work directing a project that improves the impact and effectiveness of their nonprofit. The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven will also provide support funding for these strategic projects.

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