Equity in Transformation

3 minute read

“Our policies and practices in the nonprofit sector must change to promote and reflect the leadership diversity of our communities, and to ensure these leaders are supported and not pushed out from systemic inequities.” –Jeanne Tedrow, North Carolina Center for Nonprofits

We’re so proud of the 64 nonprofit leaders that participated in our inaugural EDI Roundtables for Nonprofit Executives: Practical Strategies for Dismantling Racism within North Carolina Nonprofits. Over the course of five sessions from August-December, these executive directors, operations managers, event coordinators, education assistants, program directors, human resources officers, development directors, and board chairs (among many other staff and board roles) stepped into a sensitive and vulnerable space to address race equity within their organizations and make the commitment to begin infusing it throughout every function, practice, policy, and organizational culture.

The Center first acknowledged the widespread need for more resources, training, and space to address race equity in the sector with our Walking the Talk initiative. While nonprofits responded to the workshops, webinars, and resource sharing, it became evident that equity work should be more than a stand-alone project or just the fundamentals.

Research and data, especially from Building Movement Project’s Race to Lead Series, pointed to the need for a transformation - that equity work should be infused into all aspects of nonprofit management and functions to break down the systemic barriers and practices for people of color. And while leaders are on various parts of the learning continuum, there’s been a more recent current of boldness and willingness among the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors to address race and equity.

This research laid the groundwork for the five priority functions on which this fall’s EDI Roundtables focused.

  • The board governance session delved into diversifying board leadership and organizations’ social network in meaningful, untokenized ways.
  • The partnerships and collaboration session delved into leveraging partnerships and fostering conditions with intentional diversity that address racial biases and power dynamics.
  • The advocacy and civic engagement session delved into creating intentional systems of support and working with influencers and decision makers to address structural inequities and injustices.
  • The fundraising session delved into building a network of support and how to advocate for more equitable philanthropy and financial support.
  • The human resources session delved into developing equitable hiring practices and recruitment and personnel policies.

During the Roundtables, it was interesting that discussions kept drifting back to HR because that’s how organizations traditionally approach equity work. But the facilitators were expert in refocusing back on the main topics while recognizing the drift and coaxing discussion about why this mindset may be holding us back from progress. This mindset seems to be shifting because many participants have already begun the transformation at their organizations.

“Our staff has begun to track diversity (race, age, sexual orientation, religion) and to create more programs led by people of color.”

“We initiated the concept of creating a matrix for our board to help us be intentional about recruiting new board members who more closely represent those we serve.”

“We committed to hiring a consultant to engage in a pay equity audit for our organization.”

“We opened dialogue with BIPOC staff and expanded the board’s engagement on DEI.”

“We created a DEI staff committee that’s been meeting monthly to plan activities and learning for staff.”

As their work continues, so do the relationships and sense of community fostered by the Roundtables. The group continues to be a cohort for each other.

While the Center’s equity work continues to shift and flex with what’s most needed in the current moment, we acknowledge we also can’t be (and don’t want to be) a stand-alone. Partnerships and collaborations we’ve been building with capacity-building organizations, funders, and equity practitioners across the state allows us to adopt, adapt, and promote equity work, share experiences, and share resources. In this way, the work will continue and we’ll all be a cohort for each other. Race equity work is and will be a slow evolution.


Start or continue your organization’s equity transformation with a few resources shared during the EDI Roundtables:


Special thanks to the EDI Roundtable facilitators and equity practitioners.

Dawn Chávez, Asheville GreenWorks
Tracey Greene-Washington, Indigo Innovation Group
Barbara Jessie-Black, CommunityWorx
Gracie Johnson-Lopez, Diversity & HR Solutions
Darryl Lester, Institute for Emerging Issues, NC State University
Antoinetta McKay Mosley, I Follow the Leader LLC
Abdul Rasheed, NC Community Development Initiative
Robert T. Stephens, Justice Through Police Reform
Dr. Forrest Toms, One Step at a Time LLC


Additional thanks to our Capacity Building Partners who served as session moderators.

Natasha Davis, QENO
Amy Lytle, HandsOn Northwest North Carolina
Dr. Pamela Palmer, Palmer & Associates
John Parker, Institute for Emerging Issues, NC State University


Equity, Diversity, Inclusion