Tag Archives: Community

Women in Nonprofits: Why More aren’t in Positions of Power

Traveling to far-flung places and helping people with their basic needs was Julie Chase-Morefield‘s dream in high school. Her mother grew up impoverished and shared stories of standing in line to get federal food commodities. Now Chase-Morefield is president and CEO of the Lorain-based Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.

Diana Natalicio‘s high school set low expectations for students simply because they were from low-income families. Girls were taught home economics or secretarial skills, while boys learned woodworking and machine shop skills. As the first female president of the University of Texas at El Paso, Natalicio provided new opportunities for both low-income and Latino students.

Anita Bradley dropped out of college and struggled with drugs after both her father and uncle died in a boating accident. Bradley endured one crisis after another, including a miscarriage, until she finally sought treatment. Years later, Bradley founded the Northern Ohio Recovery Association in Cleveland.

Yet, driven and successful women like Natalicio, Bradley and Chase-Morefield are habitually demeaned on the job.

While studies show that 45% of nonprofit CEOs are women, the illusion of gender parity dissipates with closer examination, said Patricia Deyton, a senior adviser for the Council of Women World Leaders, an adjunct professor at the Simmons University School of Business and the Harvard Extension School in Boston and former CEO of the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay.

“When you look at the nonprofits with power—the ones with voice and the nationwide nonprofits—that’s where you see disparity in leadership,” Deyton said.

Women nonprofit CEOs earn 34% less than their male counterparts, said Deyton, who is also a senior associate at the Center for Gender in Organizations, a research group at Simmons University. And, she said, women hold just 18% of CEO roles at nonprofits with budgets over $50 million.

Such disparities make it difficult for women to lead, Chase-Morefield said.

“Women are collaborators who just want to make things happen without worrying about who gets the credit,” she said. “But that’s not the way the rest of the world is.”

As a result, Chase-Morefield thought she couldn’t have flaws.

“I felt I had to be much more serious and much more prepared than men because I was being judged on a much higher standard,” she said. “My predecessor had been male, and there was a little bit of a ‘good ol’ boys’ thing with the men in the community. It was frustrating. They wouldn’t take me seriously.

“People would even say, ‘You went into nonprofits because you couldn’t make it in the business world.'”

Women’s work? No, women’s values

Nearly 75% of nonprofit employees are women—not because they can’t make it in business but because the sector reflects women’s values to a greater degree, Deyton said.

Indeed, most staff and board members at Humble Design in Pontiac, Mich., are women—though not intentionally. Founder and co-CEO Treger Strasberg said the work resonates with more women.

Strasberg understands Chase-Morefield’s frustration.

“I’ve seen directly how being a woman has impacted my business,” she said. “Small meetings tend to be run by women-driven organizations. But when we get to the large organizations seeking large dollars, serious money, it’s a male-centric room.”

Strasberg has been studying homelessness for 11 years and even talked about affordable housing at the White House with Ben Carson, the U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development. “But I’ve been to meetings where there were 16 people, and I was the only woman,” she said. “And they turn to my husband, who is not an expert, for answers.”

Likewise, Diana Sieger finds she’s not always taken seriously or included in networking opportunities even after being appointed president of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation more than 30 years ago.

“I don’t play golf,” she said, “But I survive.”

Sieger credits the respect she gets in boardrooms to her outspoken nature.

“I would be the only woman sitting around the table, and I wanted so desperately to be taken seriously,” she said. “But I was never shy about advisedly expressing my opinion, and that worked in my favor.

“I remember sitting in a meeting, and the men were denigrating Hillary Clinton in pretty unsavory terms. I said, ‘I want you to go home and say that to your wife, your daughter and your granddaughter and see how they react.’

“From that time forward, I didn’t hear those kinds of comments.”

The takeaway, Sieger said, was not to allow herself to be minimized, to address it then and there and to learn how to sit down with a business leader and hold her own.

“I take the attitude that you may not like me, but you’re going to respect me,” she said.

Nonetheless, Sieger acknowledged that being a white woman in leadership is a truly different experience from being a minority female leader.

“Women say men treat us as if we’re invisible,” she said, “but African American women and Latinx women are truly invisible people.”

Case in point: Helene Gayle, M.D., noticed throughout her career that she could be the only leader in the room and still be discounted by male colleagues.

“Luckily, I came into my roles in the times when being the first woman was not the uphill battle that it was 20 or 30 years ago.

“Still, I have had male counterparts that were my direct reports, and reports of my direct reports, who got more attention in meetings than I did,” said Gayle, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, former president and CEO of CARE and a physician who worked with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on HIV/AIDS and other health issues.

As a minority leader, NORA’s Anita Bradley finds she must do more than her male counterparts to get the outcomes for the people she’s serving.

“I have brought in more than 20 million federal dollars,” Bradley said, “but it’s not easy.”

It’s what you know—and who, too

The ability to acquire essential funding, Bradley said, comes down having access to a larger social network. That’s something that men and white people in general tend to have because they are invited to serve on more boards of directors.

“Clearly, being on boards provides connections, knowledge and experience,” Deyton said.

Likewise, Cassie Nielsen, president of Talent for VMG Partners, recently told Yahoo! Finance it “makes economic sense” for women to serve on boards as they make 70-80% of consumer purchasing decisions.

“Yet, because women are underrepresented on boards of directors, those boards lack a diversity of decision-makers, which allows unconscious bias to play out,” Deyton said.

Sieger of the Grand Rapids Foundation said boards of trustees also help build a good network of female leaders and other support and are easier to get on than boards of directors.

It took a while to get her foot in the door, but Eva Garza Dewaelsche, president and CEO of SER Metro-Detroit Jobs for Progress Inc., said sitting on several boards has allowed her to penetrate a normally all-male group of leaders. Dewaelsche sits on the advisory board of Comerica Bank, is a member of the New Detroit board of directors and is a Detroit police commissioner.

Unfortunately, she said, she has received more help from men than women.

“I would like to be able to say that women have opened doors to opportunity for me, Dewaelsche said. “But that hasn’t been the case for most of my life because they are not in leadership roles or were not when I started 25 years ago.

“Women have to place themselves in situations where they can have that opportunity—where they can be leaders. I take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way to learn how to be a leader.”

Whatever the reasons for the inequality, women’s work should not be diminished, Deyton said. “Women at work in this country’s more than 900,000 charitable organizations are making huge contributions to the fabric of our society.”

This story was originally published at FordFund.org/our-stories. Read more about these incredible women:

Compassion Becomes a Career for Women in Nonprofits
http://FordFund.org/our-stories.Bringing Dignity to the Struggles of Others
From Roots in ’60s and ’70s Grow 3 Advocates for Social Change 

Successful neighborhood investment starts with listening

Detroit continues to justify its moniker as a Comeback City with new restaurants, brand-name retail, residential development and a new hockey arena.

Much of the initial revitalization has been concentrated in the urban core of Midtown and downtown, where people and businesses are concentrated, but it has taken more time for growth to reach the neighborhoods.

While JPMorgan Chase & Co. is investing significantly in those areas — along with investments in TechTown and in Eastern Market — the company also is investing in struggling neighborhoods. Chase invested more than $100 million in Detroit between 2014 and 2017 and now expects to reach $150 million by 2019.

“We’re very focused on developing a robust, small business community, like what’s developing here in the Live6 area,” said John Carter, Michigan Market Leader at JPMorgan Chase, which has been doing business in Detroit for more than 80 years.

Live6, the Livernois–McNichols (Six Mile) corridor in Northwest Detroit, once had thriving residential neighborhoods and shopping districts. But as the economy waned and population loss soared, stores shuttered and jobs disappeared.

Tosha Tabron, Vice President for Global Philanthropy with the firm, said JPMorgan Chase made investments based on conversations that occurred over long periods of time with multiple partners and stakeholders. Now, area businesses are opening and thriving, jobs are being created and homes rehabbed and developed.

Still, she recognized, more work and more conversations are needed.

Beyond the gate

A fence lines Livernois Avenue outside University of Detroit Mercy. “We want, eventually, that there is no boundary, there is no edge between the university as an island and the neighborhood,” said Will Wittig, Dean of University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture. Darrel Ellis for Crain Content Studio

A fence lines Livernois Avenue outside University of Detroit Mercy. “We want, eventually, that there is no boundary, there is no edge between the university as an island and the neighborhood,” said Will Wittig, Dean of University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture.

“Part of creating a great community is having amenities — bars, restaurants, coffee shops — as well as everyday business services like dry cleaners, banks and pharmacies. But the commercial corridor is just one part of the strategy,” said Michael Forsyth, co-director of Live6 Alliance, a nonprofit working to activate vacant spaces and enhance public safety. “It really starts with the people and anything we can do to provide economic opportunities.”

It starts with dreamers like Jevona Watson.

By day, Watson works as an attorney. In whatever downtime she has, and with funding from Motor City Match, the northwest Detroit native is working to open Detroit Sip, a coffee shop on McNichols Road just west of Livernois.

Watson envisions Detroit Sip as a place where students at nearby colleges can study or hang out.

“University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College students could live here for four years and never really venture outside of the gate,” she said.

The gate around Detroit Mercy has been a source of contention for area residents since it was built in the early 1980s. For some, it implied the university was closing itself off from the surrounding community. Will Wittig, dean of the School of Architecture at Detroit Mercy, acknowledged the community and “many” on campus hate the fence, though some parents view it as necessary.

Nevertheless, Wittig said, the university wants its students to be active in the neighborhood.

“We want, eventually, that there is no boundary, there is no edge between the university as an island and the neighborhood as its surrounding context,” he added. “Our dream is to be a true urban university — to be integrated into a thriving neighborhood.”

In 1994, Detroit Mercy founded the Detroit Collaborative Design Center to “create sustainable spaces and communities.” Its neighborhood revitalization strategies beautify vacant spaces, turn auto-centric streets into walkable spaces with bike lanes, and create common areas such as Lollo Park on Puritan Avenue in the Live6 corridor and The Alley Project on Detroit’s Southwest side.

Although Marygrove College recently announced plans to discontinue its undergraduate program, it will continue its graduate teaching program and, administrators hope, also boost interaction with the community.

“It is my dream … to have the vibrant population of people on campus that were there when I was a student at Marygrove (in the 1970s),” said Marygrove President Beth Burns. She pointed to the Charles McGee sculpture gifted last year to the Community Commons, a placemaking space created to unite the community.

Public-private cooperation

Leveraging partnerships is essential, said Michael Smith.

The director of strategic neighborhoods for Invest Detroit said his organization partners with stakeholders involved with community leaders who can guide them to the opportunities and around inevitable obstacles. Invest Detroit is working with JPMorgan Chase and Detroit-based commercial real estate developer The Platform on commercial and residential investment.

The hope is that success in these neighborhoods leads to them being models for future neighborhood development and encourages future investment.

“Unless this work produces results that are sustainable, it won’t be replicable,” said The Platform founder Peter Cummings, known for his development of Orchestra Place in Midtown and for his recent purchase of the Fisher Building in New Center.

Cummings said he sees Detroit as “the great urban lab of America.” One test is in redeveloping the large Fitzgerald neighborhood — bounded by Livernois Avenue and Wyoming Street and Fenkell Avenue and West McNichols Road — which requires rehabbing more than 100 homes and 230 vacant lots in the 10 blocks between Detroit Mercy and Marygrove. Cummings said once residents see money being successfully invested in their neighborhoods, they’re going to want to invest in their own homes.

“We need to work with people like Tosha and John (at JPMorgan Chase) to figure out how we can come up with an affordable, sort of small loan program to help those people, who I think are the real heroes in the city of Detroit. Those people who have hung on and who’ve made their payments and who’ve kept the fabric of community alive.”

Neighborhood needs

Live6, the Livernois–McNichols (Six Mile) corridor in Northwest Detroit, once had thriving residential neighborhoods and shopping districts. But as the economy waned and population loss soared, stores shuttered and jobs disappeared.

Many residents in the Live6 corridor cannot afford to attend Marygrove or Detroit Mercy, both private schools, said resident Raymond Ware.

Ware, who turned his barbershop into Metro Detroit Barber College in 2009, said the area needs more trade and vocational schools to give residents education options.

Detroiters also could use education on how to assess, invest in and develop their own neighborhoods, said Chase Cantrell, founder of Building Community Value, which works with community leaders, entrepreneurs and investors to re-imagine and rehabilitate communities.

“We use the term placemaking, … being able to give people the vision and the understanding that they have power to actually determine their own futures, determine how their communities can look,” Cantrell said. He said community educators would be able to direct people to the resources they need to get through the process.

Cantrell and Smith also agreed it’s important that developers and investors ask residents what they actually want and what role they want to play in the redevelopment of their neighborhoods.

“It starts with listening. When you ask any member of the community — it doesn’t matter if they’re 3 years old or 98 — ‘What’s your dream for the community?’ people have an answer,” Smith said. “It could be education. It could be opening a small business.

“So the goal is to ask and then the goal is to plug them in and connect them to the resources. Build that bridge.”


This story was originally published by Crain Content Studio for JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Wayne State University reaches out

M. Roy Wilson, who over his career worked as dean, vice president, president and chancellor at four different universities, had what he called a “plum job” at the National Institutes of Health when he contemplated returning to academia as a university president. If he were going to make the move, the school had to meet his requirements.

It needed to be a public, urban, research university. It needed a large medical school.

And it needed an intimate connection with its community.

Wilson found all of that at Wayne State University. Programs like Street Medicine Detroit, TeachDETROIT, Math Corps, the Free Legal Aid Clinic and the Center for Urban Studies serve the city’s neighborhoods while providing hands-on learning opportunities for Wayne State’s more than 27,000 students.

This story was originally published by Crain Content Studio.  Read the full story here.

Read our series on how Wayne State University connects with Detroit neighborhoods:

Foreign exchange: A global view

Read your daily newspaper or turn on the nightly news and you’ll be hard-pressed not to come across a mention of community.

The intensification of racism and partisan volatility consistently spurs talk of divided and united communities. An upswing in urbanism has city leaders creating walkable communities, and millennials’ attention to volunteerism has that age group spending considerable time giving back to the community.

While discussing an upcoming excursion to BookExpo America in New York and then to Europe with my Ford Motor Company Fund editor, he asked, “How do people define community?” Wheels turning, he added, “What if, while you are traveling, you ask people what community means to them and who makes up their community?”

I could see why he was curious. Community is an integral part of the Ford Fund, which contributed $33 million to community life last year alone.

For my part, community was an easily definable term: It was family, friends, neighbors and fellow church congregants. Intrigued that I would learn more, I agreed to the story concept.

The plan was simple: After my short trip to the BookExpo, my 23-year-old niece, Dannielle, and I would travel to London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin and Prague, among other cities, and come back with fascinating stories to tell.

And that’s what happened. However, conversations with strangers and friends along with a terror attack, travel delays and theft taught me more about community than I imagined.

For the full story, visit FordBetterWorld.org.