January 25, 2022 | News Article

Institute for Nonprofit Practice Announces Recipients of 2021 Changemaker Awards

INSTITUTE FOR NONPROFIT PRACTICE ANNOUNCES RECIPIENTS OF 2021 CHANGEMAKER AWARDS

50 Individuals from Across the Country Honored for Service in Their Community Amidst Global Pandemic

January 25, 2022, Boston, MA — The Institute for Nonprofit Practice (INP), which works to transform the social impact sector to be more effective, equitable, diverse, and connected, announced recipients of its 2021 Changemaker Awards today. The 2021 Changemaker Awards shine a light on individuals who didn’t necessarily make headlines, but have been on the frontlines supporting their neighbors and communities, demonstrating remarkable service, courage, and generosity while confronting unprecedented adversity over the past two years.

With sites across the country, INP is a capacity building organization that offers a suite of resources and programming — including equity-focused management and leadership development, community convenings, an expansive network of leaders, and robust alumni programming — all designed to build upon the knowledge, financial, and social capital of leaders who want to lead transformative work effectively.

“We are humbled to announce INP’s 2021 Changemaker Awards recipients,” said INP President and CEO Yolanda Coentro. “Last year, the Institute for Nonprofit Practice put out a call for nominations and our community members went above and beyond to answer it. After thoughtful consideration of each submission, INP is honored to show its deep appreciation for these Changemakers by centering and amplifying their voices, insight, and social impact. These leaders have shown up for our communities in profound ways, sustaining others despite unrelenting circumstances. Now, it’s time that we show up to celebrate, uplift, and inspire them along their journeys of service.”

Recipients of the 2021 Changemaker Awards will be honored at INP’s upcoming Leadership Learning Series session The Art of Leading for Good: Shining a Light on Changemakers on February 10, 2022 from 6-7pm ET. Meghna Chakrabarti, host of On Point at Boston-based NPR affiliate WBUR, will lead a conversation with a few Changemaker Awards recipients, unpacking stories about resilient leadership, innovation in the face of challenges, and humanity. Sue and Bernie Pucker of the Pucker Gallery in Boston, MA, serve as funding partners for INP’s virtual event which is free and open to the public.

“When needed most, these Changemakers have taken service to a new level, fueling their communities through a multitude of pressing social issues in the midst of a global pandemic and the nation’s racial reckoning,” said Chakrabarti. “As we collectively begin to define the path forward, may we look to their models of leadership for inspiration.”

INP’s 2021 Changemakers include:

Chitra Aiyar Founder, nonprofitcovidrelief.net — New York, NY

Chitra Aiyar has been an amazing resource for the nonprofit sector in a period of extreme stress. Chitra was a key member of the team that developed BDO FMA’s PPP Toolbox and also launched the Paycheck Protection Program Forgiveness Racial Equity Initiative (PPP FREI) where she supported a cohort of 300+ organizations with free services over a six month period. She helped organizations understand the very complicated PPP and tax credit rules, and built a supportive community of nonprofit peers to help support each other through the pandemic. Chitra’s focus was on understanding administrative burdens faced by leaders of color and working intentionally to offset these barriers, as well as meeting the needs of administrators of color — the individuals often serving as the sole person balancing all HR/Operations/Finance matters. Chitra continues to support nonprofits to receive PPP forgiveness and access tax credits. Chitra was a featured presenter at INP’s Leadership Learning Series session Nonprofit Relief — Opportunities in the American Rescue Plan.

Galina Angarova Executive Director, Cultural Survival — Alameda, CA

Cultural Survival (CS) advocates for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and supports Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures, and political resilience. During the past two years of the pandemic, with Galina’s leadership, Cultural Survival sustained its fundraising efforts, allowing the organization to continue and even increase its support for Indigenous communities globally through its advocacy, capacity building, communications, and grantmaking. Cultural Survival supported COVID-19 relief grants to their partner communities, partner radio stations, and Indigenous artisans, and created and distributed over 600 PSAs on COVID-19 prevention through their extensive radio network of 1,600 radio stations in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and 140 Indigenous languages. Throughout the pandemic, CS provided group healing sessions, facilitated externally and internally for its team.

Laura Assade Family Engagement Manager, Salem Public Schools — Salem, MA

During the last two years, Laura has been on the frontlines informing Salem business owners, parents, and elderly residents of COVID-19 guidelines, ensuring messages were available in Spanish for Salem’s growing Latinx population. Laura hosted a weekly virtual series with timely updates on available resources and services to address the challenges of the pandemic. She takes calls, manages cases, and offers any support accessible to her for members of the community. Laura also established and ran the Youth Commission in the city of Salem and made strides in diversity and inclusion initiatives as the former Director of Constituent Services.

Ibn-Hashim Bakari Founder, Lights & Sirens International — Providence, RI

Ibn has been assisting and encouraging youth for over 20 years, starting as a Youth Correction Officer. The programs he has initiated allow kids to understand and develop discipline, leadership, and listening skills. He has been dedicated to making a positive change in his community through his nonprofit organization Lights & Sirens International. Last year, Ibn recognized the disconnect between the police and the community. As a result, he created “Badges & Bean Bags” — five sessions of bocce ball games between the police, teenagers, and adults in the community. Each two hour session allowed for playing while having conversations involving such topics as implicit bias, ego, and accountability. Relationships developed as well as an understanding of each other’s perspectives. In the midst of this ongoing pandemic, he organized food drives for Thanksgiving and toy donations during the Christmas holiday to bring joy to his community during a difficult time. Ibn is an INP Alum.

Guy Ben-Aharon Founder and Director, The Jar — Boston, MA

Guy is a cultural entrepreneur who created The Jar. Using an innovative “Convener Model” that leads to some of the most diverse, inclusive, and engaged audiences, The Jar is building a cultural community at the intersection of equity, relationships, and art. Guy has nurtured a Board that is 80% BIPOC, 50% Black, 30% foreign-born first-generation American, 50% under 45, and a majority under $150,000 household income. Since COVID-19 struck, Guy turned obstacles into opportunities with in-person and virtual gatherings, garnering praise in The Washington Post and NPR for fostering cross-cultural dialogue and connection. Prior to The Jar, Guy staged and produced over 50 plays in translation through Israeli Stage (which he founded in 2010), the Goethe-Institut, Austrian Cultural Forum, Alliance Française, and swissnex; presented in partnership with over 50 academic and community centers in the United States, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom.

Dolores (Dolly) Boogdanian President, Audubon Circle Neighborhood Association — Boston, MA

Dolly has been working unwaveringly since the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the volunteer collaborative “Fenway Cares,” connecting seniors and others who are isolated at home with a service that provides fresh produce, masks, and sanitizer to the Fenway community. It is Dolly’s commitment to the project that has made it a success. She is the key communicator with the food re-use organization called Fair Foods, as well as the roughly 20% of recipients who cannot leave their homes, calling them each week to make sure they know they can receive food and will be there when deliveries take place.

Michele Butler Director of Nursing, Charles River Community Health Center — Hampstead, NH

Michele started the COVID-19 vaccination and testing clinic at Charles River Community Health Center in Brighton. She was the Director of Nursing, and connected with the EMC of Eastern Massachusetts to find medical volunteers. Michele helped establish clinics and their protocols while demonstrating a calm demeanor and respect for both patients and volunteers. At times with lines out the door at the clinic, she ensured people who came to the clinic felt well taken care of.

Leslie Clapp Executive Director, Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living — Vineyard Haven, MA

The Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living (MVC4L) is committed to providing resources and services to Island seniors, families, and caregivers. Keeping MVC4L open and functioning through the pandemic was Leslie’s superpower. During a time when the Island Councils on Aging and Supportive Day Programs across Massachusetts were closed, MVC4L stayed engaged in the work and mission of providing service to its aging community. From starting on Zoom at first, five days a week with friendly calls, to socially distanced visits and then community outreach, not only did Leslie keep staff employed and engaged in the work of the center, but also provided a place to “gather.” Leslie’s fierce commitment to service for Island elders will only help the MVC4L grow and be agile as the needs in the aging community change and evolve with new demographics. Leslie is an INP alum.

Cyndy Cotton Executive Director, Osterville Village Library — Osterville, MA

The Osterville Village Library (OVL) was one of the only libraries on Cape Cod to offer public access throughout the pandemic, and was the first to re-open and remain open following a state mandated shutdown. Red Cross Blood Drives, AARP free tax prep for seniors, and used book giveaways all ensured that the community continued to be served. Library programming quickly adapted to remote access and a weekly newsletter kept the community informed with links to reliable sources of information. Cyndy and her staff did all this and more, allowing OVL to remain the heart of the community that did not skip a beat. Cyndy is a current INP student.

Avarisse (Avi) Crawford Chief of Staff, East Harlem Tutorial Program — New York NY

East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP) offers students an anti-racist and equitable learning collective to exercise their brilliance. There, scholars build the academic skills, strength of character, and emotional well-being to thrive in school and lead in their communities. As Chief of Staff at EHTP, Avi has held every part of the organization together over the past several months. She organized an emergency relief fund for families impacted by the pandemic. In the last two years, Avi has overseen the allocation of funds directly to East Harlem families and staff, approving and providing crucial support for over 400 families.

Dr. Anna Carollo Cross Executive Director, MetroWest Nonprofit Network — Framingham, MA

Dr. Anna Carollo Cross has been a resident and leader in the Framingham community for over 30 years. Within days of the start of the pandemic and lockdown, Anna and fellow community leader Margie Rosario jumped into action to provide added food security for families and individuals in Framingham most adversely impacted by COVID-19. They established the Emergency Phone Line project, which coordinated deliveries of food and toiletries made each day for over a year to Framingham residents who were homebound or disabled, or who could not get access to other resources or programs in the city. In just one year, the Food Line served 2,205 people, including 775 children, and over 1,000 deliveries were made. Anna has been a bridge between the city, food pantries, community agencies, and residents in need of services. This initiative would not have been possible without MWNN’s partners in the Emergency Food Line: Joanne Barry of A Place to Turn, Jeanne Sherlock of MetroWest YMCA, Margie Rosario of Voices of the Community, Alex DePalo of Framingham Health Department, and every driver, caller, packer, and supporter who helped feed families every day.

Sean K. Ellis Criminal Justice Advocate, Public Speaker & Co-Founder and Project Manager of Exoneree Network — Boston, MA

Sean is an advocate, public speaker, community fundraiser, and graduate of the Community Fellows program at INP. Sean was wrongfully incarcerated in 1993 for a murder he did not commit, and was finally exonerated in 2018. Featured in the Netflix docuseries Trial 4, Sean speaks frequently about his experiences in forums around Boston and nationally through the Innocence Network. In his role with the Exoneree Network, Sean facilitates and supports the practical, emotional, and spiritual reentry needs of exonerees and other long-term prisoners into Massachusetts communities.

Gianina (Gia) Enriquez Community Organizer, Queen’s Museum and Founder of Familias Unidas — Queens, NY

Gianina (Gia) Enriquez is the Queens Museum’s (QM) full-time Community Organizer. Gia organized and led efforts to increase food security to the QM’s most immediate neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Queens was at the epicenter of the first wave that hit New York in 2020, experiencing some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the city. As Black, Brown, and immigrant communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 across the country, the largely immigrant communities living in Queens continue to face devastating loss and food insecurity due to unemployment and unequal access to resources and government assistance. Gia worked extensively to ensure that La Jornada Food Pantry at the Queens Museum, which serves on average 600 families weekly, provided services to 47,000 families that have visited the pantry since June 2020. Gia is also the founder of Familias Unidas, a collective movement of families located in the heart of Corona Queens, united in search of better education, health, and resources for themselves and their children.

Luisa Fernandez Parent, Community Engagement Coordinator and President of Inform Fitchburg, Fitchburg Public Schools — Fitchburg, MA

Luisa is one of the founders of Inform Fitchburg, an information and support group for parents with children enrolled in the Fitchburg Public Schools. In collaboration with the Fitchburg Art Museum and Fitchburg Public Schools, Luisa organized food distribution events during the height of the pandemic. She created a resource directory for Fitchburg Public Schools parents. Luisa was promoted to Family and Community Coordinator for FPS from a paraprofessional position, and constantly creates videos to promote programs, health information, and community services.

Bior Guigni CEO, Beat the Streets New England — Boston, MA

Over the last two years, Bior came into a new role as the Chief Executive Officer of Beat the Streets New England. She was tasked with merging two organizations and stabilizing a failing infrastructure that has seen other direct service youth development organizations close down due to COVID-19. Bior decided to take this time to support the community and doubled down on supporting and developing her team. With limited resources and increasingly difficult opportunities to get much needed funding, Bior worked to provide 32,000 meals to kids and families in need, turned their Boston offices into a pantry for any dry goods and needed items, and engaged youth and families through virtual and hybrid programming that offered physical activity, health and wellness checks, and restorative justice circles. Bior is an INP alum.

Yari Helfeld Executive Director, Y no había luz — San Juan, Puerto Rico

Yari is a leader in building and maintaining the nonprofit theater company Y no había luz. Y no habia luz is a Puerto Rico theater company founded in 2005 that provides communities a firsthand experience with visual and scenic arts through workshops, theater, and other cultural offerings. Under Yari’s leadership, the company quickly mobilized to continue its offerings throughout the pandemic by transitioning its educational programs to virtual and developing strategic partnerships with foundations, arts groups, and local community organizers. The organization also expanded its reach into more communities where access to internet and the arts is more limited, and ran in-person, open-air programming.

Chris Hunt Executive Director, Professional Center for Child Development — Amesbury, MA

When the pandemic hit, Chris worked closely with his leadership team to set and achieve their pandemic goal of providing critical, timely, and high-quality intervention services to children with disabilities while keeping all Professional Center for Child Development (PCCD) employees safe, both physically and financially. This meant transforming and adapting multiple programs’ service delivery models. They created a tele-health service for the Early Intervention Program and a remote learning experience for students in the Anderson School. They sought to close the digital divide for families by distributing laptops and hot spots to families in need and created a first-of-its-kind tele-health kiosk that resides in the Lawrence Public Library. The kiosk provides a quiet, confidential space for individuals to receive a medical or therapeutic tele-health visit. The team worked countless hours and endless weekends to quickly pivot their services and re-invent themselves in a time of crisis. Tough decisions were made both quickly and strategically with the understanding that the pandemic would last years and not weeks. Thanks to the team’s dedication and hard work, PCCD was able to lead the way with their service to the community. Chris is an INP alum.

Allie Hunter Co-Founder and President, Addiction Response Resources — Boston MA

At the beginning of the pandemic, Allie established the first-of-its-kind Community Syringe Redemption Program, which creates a cash incentive for people to turn in used syringes. Through her organization, Allie has worked to reduce public safety concerns related to syringes, while also providing an income-earning opportunity for individuals, expanding access to lifesaving overdose prevention resources, and creating a new entry point for treatment and other services. During the last year, under the leadership of Allie and her co-founder Josh DeLisle, Addiction Response Resources has expanded their innovative program to three locations in Boston, enrolled 1,773 participants, and collected more than a million syringes. Allie is an INP alum.

Omar Jackson Director, Stand Against Violence — East Harlem, New York

Omar and his team at SAVE partner with people impacted by arrest and incarceration on a journey of education, employment, and emotional well-being and collaborate with NYC communities to support a culture of nonviolence. During the pandemic, Omar and his team worked throughout the East Harlem community. They handed out food, emotionally supported many essential workers and families who were impacted by the pandemic, and helped reduce violence in the community when many people were at home and in a challenging state of mind. His leadership and work impacted lives in many ways throughout the pandemic.

Yolanda F. Johnson Founder, Women of Color in Fundraising & Philanthropy and Allies in Action Membership Network — New York, NY

Yolanda F. Johnson is a phenomenal leader in mobilizing DEI efforts within the nonprofit fundraising and philanthropy fields. Yolanda founded Women of Color in Fundraising & Philanthropy (WOC) in 2020. WOC, pronounced “woke”, is a membership organization with the mission to celebrate, inspire, and champion women of color in fundraising, philanthropy, and related fields through building community and providing unparalleled personal and professional development resources. Allies in Action was created in response to the number of white allies who wanted to support the work of WOC and implement change through solidarity, offering DEI training, coaching, and community.

Marcia Kimm-Jackson Founder and Co-Director, West Fairmount Hill Community Group — Hyde Park, MA

Marcia is a racial equity practitioner, facilitator, and visionary who believes that everyone has the capacity to create change from wherever they are. She founded the West Fairmount Hill Community Group to build a connected, cohesive, and collaborative community where everyone can thrive and practice participation, partnership, and pride. As part of this group, Marcia started the Hyde Park Helps initiative which supports local efforts to address food insecurity and serve the global diaspora. Partnering with the community, Marcia collected thousands of dollars worth of goods to aid rural parts of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and collected PPE donations to send to rural Panama at the start of the pandemic. Locally, Marcia collected and distributed masks and COVID-19 rapid tests to residents. She leads a neighborhood collaborative to create change in Hyde Park through the Racial Equity and Justice Forum she founded — a tool to educate, connect, and lead the community’s vision of work together. Marcia envisioned, created, and led Hyde Park’s first Juneteenth celebration since becoming a national holiday, working with everyone from the Mayor and City Council to Congresswoman Pressley and local organizers. In an effort to address Hyde Park’s health inequity, Marcia sparked and seeded the vision for the community’s first health center. As Marcia grows her vision and achievements, she never loses sight of the purpose of the broader work: to connect with, work alongside, and serve those in the community — all to achieve Dr. King’s dream of the “Beloved Community”. Marcia is an INP alum.

Rita Lara Executive Director, Maverick Landing Community Services — East Boston, MA

​​Rita Lara is the Executive Director of Maverick Landing Community Services (MLCS), a core organizational member of Mutual Aid Eastie. During the pandemic, Rita stepped in and provided the capacity needed through MLCS so organizations could focus on getting direct financial support to neighbors who did not qualify for COVID-19 relief checks, unemployment insurance, or other public sources of financial support. Their housing lab helped 144 families complete applications for housing assistance and to date has helped them to access nearly $418,000 in rental aid. She has worked to couple food relief with environmental sustainability when the pandemic widened and deepened the longstanding problem of food insecurity. Rita partnered with Fair Foods, an organization that rescues surplus fresh food from supermarkets and other places for redistribution. In 2021, this partnership delivered over 140,771 pounds of food to over 632 families. Her organization has provided meaningful work opportunities for youth and young adults through one of four tracks – community building, food justice, design, and production. Rita is an INP alum.

Andy Marra Executive Director, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund — New York, NY

Andy has used her platform as Executive Director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) to advocate for transgender health accessibility during the deadliest year on record for transgender people, which also left them most isolated and largely unable to access affirmative care. She hired an all-star legal team to eliminate transgender health insurance exclusions and ensure that health advocates can successfully appeal denials of care coverage. Over the past two years, the critical importance of having a health care system that is accessible to the most marginalized among us has become impossible to ignore. Andy’s leadership in this area has saved lives and will go on to save many more.

Pilar McCloud CEO and Founder, A Sweet Creation Youth Organization — Providence, RI 

A Sweet Creation Youth Organization aims to educate and empower young people to achieve their greatest potential, its motto being “What can you DO for your community?” During COVID-19, Pilar went above and beyond with her organization to make sure those who were sick and shut in during the pandemic were able to get cooked meals, food delivered, as well as the supplies and medication that they needed. Pilar took money out of her own pocket to provide PPE. She established a phone tree that mobilized groups to deliver cooked meals to families, and worked with food banks and youth volunteers in Providence to feed families in various communities. Under Pilar’s leadership, the organization has served the community through various service programs such as Feeding Families for the Holidays and #LunchBag, and in facilitating local after-school programs. Her organization has partnered with DCYF/Juvenile Court in Providence to mentor low-level offenders as they are often required to do community service. Pilar is an INP alum.

Caroline McKinnon Founder, Felt NYC — New York, NY

Caroline has been helping refugees and low-income immigrants learn English and other useful skills for five years. She formed her own nonprofit and ran every aspect of it, growing a team of volunteers. When COVID-19 hit, she raised funds to take it online, including providing students with technology, language support, after-school classes for students’ kids, and expanding classes to welcome over 400 students across multiple continents. Caroline provided specialized classes to students in refugee camps, launched a junior board to help teens get involved, and raised funds to provide COVID-19 care packages and WiFi to students.

Kavita Mehra Executive Director, Sakhi for South Asian Women — New York, NY

Kavita continually leverages her platform as Sakhi’s Executive Director to promote and advocate for a more intersectional approach to violence prevention. Her tireless dedication to uplift survivors of gender-based community violence has never been more evident than during the pandemic. Kavita and her colleagues spearheaded efforts to shift Sakhi’s work to operate remotely within mere days of the March 2020 lockdown, via tele-therapy sessions and other remote direct services. She petitioned Sakhi’s board to significantly expand its existing Food Justice Program to address immediate food insecurity issues among South Asian survivors’ families, and to increase Emergency Assistance to mitigate safety and financial concerns. Through her advocacy work, Kavita has worked alongside peer organizations to secure $10 million in state funding for AAPI organizations in New York that are working to prevent violence. She is a co-founder and board member of South Asian SOAR, the national coalition for South Asian survivor organizations across the United States.

Ronnie Millar Executive Director, Rian Immigrant Center — Boston, MA

In the past two years since the onset of the pandemic, Ronnie co-founded the start of a network of 15 organizations — the Massachusetts Immigrant Collaborative — which has provided millions of dollars in support to immigrant families who need housing, food, and other life-giving support. Ronnie does this along with his regular role as Executive Director of Rian Immigrant Center. He is a tireless advocate for immigrants and steadfast in this work.

Darien Morisset Student, Alice M. Barrows Elementary School — Reading, MA

Darien Morisset, fourth grader at Alice M. Barrows Elementary School in Reading, MA, didn’t let the pandemic keep him from celebrating Black History Month! Darien took to Zoom, teaching live lessons on prominent Black figures every night for his neighbors and community members, including a couple of Boston Celtics players. The team then amplified Darien’s impact even more, posting a video of him explaining the significance of Juneteenth, how the holiday originated, and why it’s important to honor. “It’s not just a holiday for Black people to celebrate,” Morisset says. “It’s a holiday for all people to celebrate.” Darien’s profiles of influential Black athletes, entertainers, and more — from Serena Williams to Stevie Wonder — featured powerful poetic performances for his students along the way. With plans to change the world, Darien proves you’re never too young to teach.

Yahaira Objio Resident Service Director, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) — Boston, MA

Yahaira is IBA’s Director of Resident Services. Coming from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria’s aftermath, Yahaira knows firsthand what resilience and organizing work means to empower people and build community. At the beginning of the pandemic, Yahaira led resident well-being calls to ensure that they, especially those most vulnerable, had all the resources needed to cope with the effects of COVID-19. Yahaira coordinated three community-based vaccination clinics, creating an outreach plan for each household. From food access and medical care to rent assistance among other issues, she mobilized resources to keep every member of her community safe and stable. To ease stress and promote social interaction despite the distancing guidelines, Yahaira directed open space live music events to build community. At the first event, Yahaira announced through the megaphone: “Ustedes no estan solos, IBA esta aqui para ustedes”/”You’re not alone, IBA is here for you,” showing her deep commitment to the community. Yahaira is a current INP student.

Jenny Oliver Artistic Director and Creator, Modern Connections & Connections Dance Theater — East Boston, MA

Since 2005, Jenny has been a vibrant creative force in Greater Boston, bringing socially conscious dance performances and classes to the community. Informed by her Black Native heritage and training in Modern and Haitian Folkloric Dance, Jenny’s weekly community classes, which were accessible before the onset of the pandemic, were amplified even more during quarantine. Her work as an educator and arts advocate continues to center accessibility and empowerment of people moving their bodies. She continually adapts her practices and offerings between in-person and online, in response to the needs of the community, providing a safe haven for folks to engage with movement at their comfort level. Jenny also continues to share her gifts in the community as a lecturer at Tufts University, Emerson College, and Mount Holyoke College.

Matthew Parker Executive Director, Union of Minority Neighborhoods — Boston, MA

Matthew Parker is a visionary, innovator, community organizer, and advocate who has made it his life’s work to bridge the gap in social, economic, and health disparities within the Black community and other groups of color. As the Executive Director at Union of Minority Neighborhoods during the pandemic, Matthew and his organization rallied for equitable COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Matthew’s organization created and staffed a helpline for referrals to providers from community members without access to high speed internet in need of resources. Matthew personally used his own vehicle and time to see to it that many in his community, including seniors, had transportation to and from vaccine sites and adequate PPE, from handing out masks and sanitizer to now distributing COVID-19 at-home test kits. Over the last two years, Matthew has teamed up with Project Right, Inc. and other organizations to deliver fresh and cooked food to locations all over the city of Boston and beyond, as well as distributing grocery gift cards. Matthew is an INP alum.

Philmore Phillip II Founding Director, The Coalition of Us — Boston, MA

Philmore Phillip II is a graduate of Reading Memorial High School and a former METCO student who came back to make a difference in how Black students experience the Reading Public Schools and community. Philmore founded The Coalition of Us (CATO), an organization based out of Reading dedicated to representing and supporting people of color who face the same problems that have plagued our country. He is striving to achieve equity for marginalized people through building connections amongst all individuals, groups, creeds, religions, and identities, including speaking at the first Juneteenth celebration the town held. Philmore has also spearheaded several programs and events including CATO Conversations, Black History Month Bingo, and most known: the Reading Remembrance Tour — an integrated tour involving students, past and present teachers, and volunteers. What started as a tour for residents, grew to school and local officials, the superintendent, and a State Senator participating to build knowledge and awareness about the lives and locations of Black and enslaved residents and soldiers of Colonial-era Reading.

Samilla de Faria Quiroa Independent Consultant, Formerly of the Family Nurturing Center — Watertown, MA

During the pandemic, Samilla went above and beyond to support the families of Allston-Brighton. She worked tirelessly to acquire and distribute essential items like diapers, wipes, and masks. She created a “nurturing closet” where families can shop for free children’s clothing rather than receive a bag of donated clothes. Samilla led her team in executing virtual programming and community engagement despite a tumultuous 18 months. She provides informational sessions on early childhood development in three languages and never stops attending professional development to make herself an even more informed leader.

Maritza Raimundi-Petroski Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Prevention and Community Engagement, Children’s Home Society of New Jersey — Trenton, NJ

As the Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Community Engagement, and Prevention Programs at the Children’s Home Society of New Jersey, Maritza oversees many maternal child health programs spanning across multiple counties. As a native of Puerto Rico, Maritza is about supporting the Latinx community, especially those who are newer community members from other countries, pregnant, and with little to no social support. She oversees the AMAR Community Based Doulas Program along with a dedicated team of trusted community doulas which provides perinatal and postnatal services to over 70 underserved, Spanish-speaking women in Mercer County, New Jersey. Through her leadership and commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, she supports a continuum of maternal child health services, many she has developed and expanded upon in a period of 20 years. The AMAR Community Based Doulas Program builds the local workforce by training 10-12 women to become community doulas each year. She and her team are constantly thinking about ways to go above and beyond to highlight and celebrate the program’s participants while recognizing the role we all play in reducing health disparities, especially during the pandemic.

Danna Remen Director of Development, Ellie Fund — Brookline, MA

Danna understood that breast cancer patients were in crisis before COVID-19 and the pandemic only compounded those challenges of food insecurity, mounting medical bills, and transportation issues. When many funders shifted their typical philanthropic focuses to COVID-19 response grants, Danna refused to let these vulnerable patients be forgotten. Danna forged relationships with Community Foundations which were granted funding through the Baker Administration. In direct response to Danna’s efforts, Ellie Fund’s exceeded their fundraising goal by $100,000. Her work allowed patients to be able to feed themselves and their families nutritious foods, care for their children, and most importantly safely access their breast cancer treatment.

Elsabel Rincon Founder and Executive Director, The Welcome Immigrant Network — Salem & Peabody, MA

Elsabel Rincon has dedicated more than 15 years of service to the community including responding to the most underserved individuals experiencing distress, difficulty, and depression. She is the founder of The Welcome Immigrant Network (WIN), an all-volunteer grassroots organization that she has led as a volunteer Executive Director since 2013. During the past two years, under the initiative and leadership of Elsabel, the organization distributed basic needs to more than 300 of the most vulnerable immigrant families in the North Shore. She is an individual who is constantly concerned and committed to the well-being of the community. Elsabel is also an INP alum.

Salmah Rizvi Co-Founder and Board Director, American Muslim Bar Association — Washington D.C. 

Over the last two years, and during her tenure as Founding President of the American Muslim Bar Association (AMBA), Salmah meticulously built out a vision for the institution and created the scheme for AMBA’s national committees, collaborating across sectors to identify the greatest legal needs of the Muslim American community today. She has spent countless hours mentoring younger Muslim women of color, and has worked with scholars to identify the key principles that will guide AMBA for generations to come — love, compassion, mercy, and justice. Salmah is fearless in showing how Islamic values contribute to the fabric of our society and enhance our democracy, particularly in times of crisis.

Veronica Robles Founding Director, Veronica Robles Cultural Center — East Boston, MA

While we know Veronica for her leadership within the Latino/a/e/x arts and cultural space, so many are not aware of how she responded to the pandemic. The Veronica Robles Cultural Center mobilized to help people meet their greatest needs when there was nowhere they could turn to and no one they trusted. They trust her. She made her center and herself available 24/7 for community members — reflective of her unwavering commitment and dedication. Veronica is an INP alum.

Reginah Sanyu Founder, EarlyBird256 — New York, NY

Reginah is the founder of EarlyBird256, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping girls in Uganda find the power of their voices through art, movement, and wellness education. Over the past two years, Uganda’s schools were closed as a result of the pandemic. Following COVID-19 protocols, Reginah and her team have been providing workshops for more than 100 students while sending them off with homework and wellness packages. With a mantra of #doinglittlethingswithpassion, the impact of the EarlyBird256 workshops was seen through the student’s results and progress. Originally from Uganda, Reginah is on a mission to normalize safe spaces for girls and women in villages.

Nalini Saxena Founder and Executive Director, Connecting the Dots…to Justice; Founder and CEO, Elicit Consulting — New York, NY

Nalini created Connecting the Dots…to Justice, a free virtual space for people from all backgrounds and geographies to reflectively and constructively dialogue about social, economic, and environmental justice. Initially inspired by recent racially charged events in the United States and the context of the global battle with COVID-19, Connecting the Dots has spotlighted topics across all kinds of challenges facing humanity today, from systemic oppression to challenging the status quo when it doesn’t serve all peoples with equity and empathy. Every Friday for over 20 months, Connecting the Dots has been spotlighting a topic in such a way that allows attendees to listen to and interact with perspectives potentially outside their normal breadth of exposure, and similarly with participants from all different places and schools of thought with the charge to work together toward actions to “be the change” in the world. Despite being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nalini committed to using every resource she had from her business to facilitate social, economic, and environmental progress. She designed the space for participants to own it, infuse it with their energy, and craft a shared experience and community. As an extension of such work, most recently, Nalini was tapped to get involved in critical aspects of a volunteer project to assist US allies in Afghanistan with support of on-the-ground needs and plans for safe evacuation.

David Delmar Sentíes Founder and Executive Director, Resilient Coders — Cambridge, MA

David is the Founder and Executive Director of Resilient Coders, a highly competitive, free, and stipended coding bootcamp that trains people of color for high-growth careers as software engineers, and connects them with full-time jobs. Like millions of organizations, the bootcamp was impacted by COVID-19 and challenged to quickly pivot from a classroom setting. David worked with the Board and leadership team to develop the Economic Resiliency Fund. The fund allowed the organization to continue stipends for students and alumni who had been laid off, along with an enlarged emergency budget to be used ad hoc by students who were in need.

Dr. Jaykyri Simpson and Desmond (Des) Kennard

Executive Director, Young Man with a Plan — Boston, MA

Dr. Jaykyri Simpson leads Young Man with a Plan (YMWAP), a 4-year holistic mentoring program that helps young Black and Latino men make academic and SEL gains, and develop individualized success plans for sustainable futures. During the pandemic, the YMWAP team kept 160 young men in their hearts and on their minds, staying in daily contact through texts, mental wellness checks, FaceTime, Zoom, and drop-offs of food, gift cards, PPE, and personal care products. Knowing that disrupted high school learning can have disastrous consequences, Jaykyri used persistent, compassionate “intrusive coaching” to help young men stay engaged in their remote learning. A distraught mother asking him to help encourage her son to study online said, “You’re the only one he will listen to.” Jaykyri has dedicated his career to closing achievement and opportunity gaps; during the pandemic Jaykyri completed his doctoral research and successfully defended his dissertation on Black male college persistence.

Assistant Director, Young Man with a Plan — Boston, MA

Desmond Kennard, Assistant Director of YMWAP, a holistic mentoring program in Boston, is passionate about helping youth access sustainable futures. A certified career coach, Des focuses on understanding Boston’s job market, educating young men on their many options, and helping students create individualized success plans for college and career. During the pandemic, Des made sure young men’s basic needs were met through daily check-ins, sustained coaching, and delivery of food and essential supplies. Along with YMWAP’s Executive Director Jaykyri Simpson, Des continued the success planning process for every student, and many alums, using Zoom. Creating success plans in the midst of the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic gave young men hope, conveying to them that someone cared about their futures and the belief that there WAS a future to plan for.

Leon Smith, Esq. Executive Director, Citizens for Juvenile Justice — Boston, MA

Attorney Leon Smith was hired as Executive Director for Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CFJJ) exactly one year prior to the global pandemic. Leon brought his passion for juvenile justice and advocacy from his prior work in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and began an ambitious agenda of expanding CFJJ’s racial equity and social justice impact across Massachusetts before COVID-19 changed everything. Simultaneously to pivoting his team to fully remote operation, Leon led an immediate effort to ensure that critical information regarding the Commonwealth’s response to the crisis was provided to youth-serving agencies, community-based organizations working with youth and their families, and grassroots parent and youth organizers. Leon also led efforts to advocate for youth in state custody through the courts and the Department of Youth Services, affording the opportunity to leave congregate care settings and shelter at home if at all possible.

Cara Solomon Founder and Executive Director, Everyday Boston — Boston, MA

Cara is the Founder and Executive Director of Everyday Boston, a nonprofit that brings people from different backgrounds together through the sharing of life stories, including by training residents to interview their neighbors. During the pandemic, she focused this work on essential workers, amplifying the stories of people who kept the engine of the city running in the most difficult time most of us have ever lived through. She also connected teens with elders for conversations about life and its challenges. Using Zoom and social media, Cara was able to break the bonds of our isolation as neighbors to create real connection.

Olga Tacure Executive Director, Women Encouraging Empowerment — Revere, MA

Olga is the Executive Director of Women Encouraging Empowerment (WEE), a nonprofit based in Revere whose mission is to empower immigrant women and their families through adult basic education classes and advocacy training. In the last two years, Olga helped build the metaphorical plane while flying it at the same time, working with many stakeholders to address the needs of the city of Revere’s most vulnerable through the COVID-19 Rapid Response Network. At WEE, she has organized countless diaper drives, food distributions, and provided vaccine and housing support to people who feel either disconnected or unable to engage directly with municipal services. Olga is an INP alum.

Stacey L. Thompson Communications Co-Chair and Member, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consortium — Lowell, MA

Stacey was a founding member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consortium — Lowell, a grassroots community initiative founded in 2019, that works to dismantle racism across Lowell. Stacey has worked to spread awareness to people about the new voting systems as part of Lowell Lines, and has advocated for culturally and linguistically sustainable practices within Lowell Public Schools. She is an activist in the movement to get Lowell to declare racism is a public health crisis. Stacey made history this year as the first Black woman to be elected to the city of Lowell’s School Committee. She serves as a board member for the Lowell Telemedia Company in service of its mission to empower and connect all residents, businesses, and organizations across the city.

Morgan Wilson Director of the Legal Assistance to Victims Program and Legal Fellow, Northeastern Domestic Violence Institute — Boston, MA 

In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Domestic Violence Institute (DVI) — an organization that provides free legal services, support, and representation in restraining order cases to survivors of domestic and sexual violence — pivoted to remote operations. In conjunction with Northeastern Law School’s NuLawLab, Morgan and her colleague, Attorney Margo Lindauer, created DVILegal.org to expand the provision of legal and advocacy services to survivors across the Commonwealth. Further, for the past two years, Morgan has represented clients in abuse and harassment prevention order hearings, led training sessions and workshops for students and community-based organizations, created infographics outlining the restraining order process geared toward non-English speaking survivors, and developed partnerships with local law firms and clinical programs to take DVI overflow cases. Under Morgan’s supervision, Student Advocates in the Legal Assistance to Victims Program provide pro se support for clients in restraining order cases and offer advocacy and wrap-around services in immigration, housing, divorce, custody, parenting time, and other collateral matters. In response to rising housing insecurity and lack of available shelter space among survivors because of the pandemic, Morgan and Margo raised money to begin an anonymous, free shelter program for survivors fleeing violence.

Chanda Womack Executive Director, ARISE — Providence, RI

ARISE combines leadership training with community organizing to mobilize Southeast Asian and other Rhode Island youth of color for education justice. The intersection of her identity as a Cambodian Refugee woman and mom of two bi-racial (Black and Cambodian) children have shaped her ideologies, advocacy, and organizing. These identity markers fuel how she shows up, occupies, and shares space not just for education justice but for all issues that impact the historically excluded. With Chanda’s leadership, ARISE supported families and other organizations through the Rhode Island Solidarity Fund, a grassroots relief fund which ARISE became a founding member of when the pandemic first hit. The fund brought together six community-led efforts to offer a one-stop option for community members and foundations seeking to contribute directly to frontline relief efforts during the COVID-19 crisis. The fund has raised and redistributed over $160,000 to date since its launch in May 2020. Chanda went above and beyond joining in with fellow local community organizers to provide meals and financial assistance to families who were struggling during the pandemic.

Maggie Yuan, Ed.D., LMHC Program Director, Doc Wayne Youth Services — Boston, MA

Maggie Yuan, Ed.D., LMHC is the Program Director at Doc Wayne Youth Services, a mental health provider based in Boston with the mission of providing access to brighter futures for youth around the world and strengthening the field of mental health by using revolutionary sports-based therapy and clinical initiatives. Throughout the lockdown, Maggie helped her staff acclimate to new modes of therapy delivery and ensured that her constituents did not go without the mental health support they increasingly needed during the challenges of the lockdown. Maggie coordinated with schools and community centers in the Boston area to ensure that they provided culturally competent mental health services to youth as they transitioned back into school and continue to process the trauma of the pandemic along with the isolation of lockdown. She also trained and supported staff so they could better sustain themselves while supporting youth under their care. Maggie is a current INP student.

About the Institute for Nonprofit Practice

The Institute for Nonprofit Practice works to ensure that social impact leaders have the skills, knowledge, networks, resources, and confidence to lead effective, innovative, and sustainable organizations, advance justice, and build a more equitable future for all. Through award-winning programs, the Institute trains executives, managers, and emerging leaders across the country. Central to the Institute’s work is a focus on social justice and supporting women and people of color to step into leadership roles of greater influence; the majority of the Institute’s students and alumni identify as BIPOC, and over 60% are women. For more information, visit nonprofitpractice.org or follow @InstituteNP.

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