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Dare to lead with Amal Elmi and Bailey Greenspon

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What is the one thing we can do today to build an equitable future for the nonprofit sector?

The answer is very simple: put young and diverse voices at the decision making table.

On today’s episode, we hear from the people who are doing just that.

Launched in 2017 by G(irls)20, Girls on Boards program places community-minded, motivated and trained young women aged 18-25 on non-profit governance boards in their communities across Canada. After completing online training and several months of coaching with a G(irls)20 approved coach, Young Directors begin their 1-year term on the board.

Bailey Greenspon, acting Co-CEO of G(irls)20 and Amal Elmi, a Young Director of the Girls on Board program talk to us about their insights and experience of advocating for young and diverse leaders in the sector.

3 myths Bailey and Amal want us to leave behind:

  1. Younger people can’t contribute to the board fundraising initiative. Young people are resourceful, community-driven, and innovative. The perceived notion that they can't fundraise or be philanthropic is a prejudice that prevents organizations to tap into the potential of young leaders.

  2. Having diverse representation on your board automatically means your board is equipped to support diverse voices. Tokenism does more harm than good. We need to pay close attention to how our boards actually support these voices and make important decisions based on them.

  3. In times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, boards should just focus on fundraising and operation and temporarily put aside issues of diversity and inclusion. In times of crisis, boards need to lead with equity. Only when a board is community and equity driven that the organization

Bailey and Amal’s tips for young women participating on board

  1. Find a mentor. Having someone who’s experienced on nonprofit boards will help guide your journey, especially when you’re starting to sit on your first board.

  2. Look for training and resources on board governance. Board governance includes a very specific set of best practices. Often, even the people who are very experienced sitting on boards have not done enough training on governance. The right kind of courses and programs can go a long way to support your board work.

  3. Stay true to your voice and have a champion on your board to support you. Know that your voice is important and should be heard, and build friendship with fellow board members that aligned with your values to champion you.

My favourite quotes from today’s episode

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“We don't just need one diverse candidate [on boards], we need a slate of diverse candidates, because really, having one young black woman on a board isn't going to be enough to do that advocacy or to have that system change. You need many young women and many young racialized women to be part of that systemic change, because oftentimes, a lot of us have that lived experience that can shape a lot of the advocacy and a lot of the policies that are talked about at these decision making tables.” - Amal

Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership


Girls On Board Program

The Small Nonprofit is produced by Eloisa Jane Mariano