The Office of LGBT affairs launched an inaugural leadership-training program aimed at developing the diversity of local LGBTQ nonprofit boards.
Applications are now being accepted for the Community Leadership Pipeline Initiative, the Office of LGBT Affairs’ pilot program that will train LGBTQ people of color, youth, seniors and trans people for leadership positions in the city’s LGBTQ nonprofit organizations.
The program is being developed in partnership with William Way LGBT Community Center, Independence Business Alliance and Delaware Valley Legacy Fund. The six-month program will include hands-on training sessions on subjects such as ethics, finances and development, personal branding and nonprofit bylaws. Applicants will sit in on monthly three-hour training sessions led by LGBTQ community members.
Amber Hikes, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, said the program is a continuation of the conversations on racism and discrimination within Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community over the last several years.
“These conversations are part of a larger discussions on inclusion not just for racial minorities but also for trans folks, for young people, elders, low-income individuals and those with accessibility issues. We’re extending the conversation on discrimination to include all marginalized groups,” she said. “The purpose is to bring new faces and new perspectives to the table to dismantle injustice.”
Hikes added that the selection committee is looking for candidates who have “a strong and sophisticated understanding of diversity and cultural issues specifically within the LGBTQ community, strong involvement in not only the LGBT community but adjacent communities,” and that the greatest priority is finding a candidate who can bring “innovative ways to tackle old issues within the community.”
The application process is free — an intentional move that Hikes said will help eliminate accessibility barriers. The application has a question pertaining to personal barriers that provides applicants an opportunity to speak transparently about the obstacles they overcome on a daily basis.
“This is a progressive way of looking at what our leadership looks like and aspirationally what it can look like down the road,” Hikes said.
A week after the program was announced, more than 60 hopeful participants had already applied. The applicant pool will be narrowed down to around 20 participants. Upon completion of the program, participants will receive a stipend.
The program has been in development for more than a year and is now ready to launch. Chris Bartlett, executive director of William Way, and Zach Wilcha, executive director of IBA, were champions of the CLPI program before Hikes made it a top priority when she joined the Office of LGBT Affairs last year.
"I believe the Community Leadership Pipeline will be a two-way street — leaders of all generations sharing ideas and strategies for building our communities and their institutions. The curriculum will provide non-profit and leadership best practices, but we're also eager to hear from these leaders about what they see working on the ground," Bartlett said. "As a young leader, numerous diverse mentors taught me how to participate in community leadership. Thirty years later, I am eager to participate in a process that pays back that investment from my elders."
Juan Franco, executive director of DVLF, said the program is “a step in the right direction for LGBTQ nonprofits to better serve diverse communities.”
“Our boardrooms need to reflect the communities that we serve. CLPI is providing individuals who may not have the means, access or education to step into these leadership roles,” Franco said. “The DVLF board is making great efforts to bring on new members to have it reflect the diversity of our community. We have brought on more people of color and younger professionals. This program will help us to bring even more diverse faces in.”
Applications will be accepted until Oct. 1 and the program is expected to begin at the end of that month.