Women of Color Leadership Circle

In 2019, IISC answered a call from the Boston Foundation (tBf) to help co-create and facilitate the inaugural Anna Faith Jones & Frieda Garcia Women of Color Leadership Circle. Named after Anna Faith Jones & Frieda Garcia (the first women of color tBf CEO and board chair, respectively) this cohort was initiated to respond to the unique needs of women of color nonprofit leaders. Funded by tBf and the Angell Foundation, and now in collaboration with the Boston Women’s Fund, the program aimed to deepen connections, raise visibility, provide professional development, and nurture a sense of belonging, safety, and wellness among Circle members. 

Co-designed by and for women of color leaders in the community, the core curriculum covered topics of interest ranging from practical leadership skills to self-care to negotiating with employers. Supported by an IISC team that was diverse across race, culture, and executive leadership, the 15-member cohort participated in monthly group sessions and received nine hours of individual executive coaching over the course of six months. 

This cohort convened at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic—a time when support and connection was essential for these leaders. Together with committed Circle members and proper technology, we created an engaging online community that felt safe for our cohort members to learn and grow. Circle members report gaining confidence in navigating leadership challenges, initiating courageous conversations, setting boundaries, and prioritizing self-care. These women found their power, voice, confidence, self-worth, and righteous ability to support their own wellness while working for the wellness of their communities. They found a sisterhood that contradicted the isolation and helped them deal with challenges in real-time!

“As women of color we shoulder significant burdens and challenges. 2020 has brought even more of this stress than we experience in “normal” times. Self-care and boundary setting seems to be a struggle for me and many of my colleagues. The tools and insight we have gained from this experience have been powerful. I have taken them all to heart and am practicing all of them.” (Circle member)

Cohorts allow a unique opportunity for sharing of practical wisdom and time for self care, healing, and transformation in a supportive community setting that is culturally relevant to BIPOC leaders. We are honored to have had the opportunity to support the inaugural Women of Color Leadership Circle and look forward to the second Circle in 2022! 

“I work in an organization that is 95% white male. I have tried to emulate their leadership style in order to succeed in my role—an approach that felt inauthentic. With the support of the Circle, I’ve found that by harnessing my own feminine powers I have been able to accomplish more and lead in a more genuine way.” (Circle member)