WeThrive: Meet the Leaders from Cohort 1




Earlier this year we piloted a new program, WeThrive, a coaching cohort focused on power-building and peer support for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) nonprofit EDs and CEOs. Intended as a space where nonprofits leaders come to grow, collaborate, and change the world together, this coaching circle is co-led by Meme Styles and Madge Vásquez.

This program came to fruition after Mission Capital and other partners commissioned the 2020 Race to Lead (R2L) Central Texas research project, conducted by our national collaborator the Building Movement Project.

The R2L Central Texas project explored why there are so few leaders of colors in the nonprofit sector, the challenges they face to attain senior leadership roles, the consequences of this gap in exacerbating historic community inequities, and potential recommendations for creating intentional supports for BIPOC leaders.

While most nonprofit executive coaching cohorts are designed and normed on dominant culture strategies and structures, and do not address needs specific to people of color, WeThrive centers on BIPOC peer support, healing, and shared wisdom.

The first cohort, which ended in mid-June, provided space for learning on individual and organizational resilience, created community through connection, garnered investment for nonprofit leaders of color and activated their collective power.

Meet four of the leaders from this inaugural WeThrive cohort, as they share their experience and what they would say to their BIPOC peers.

Richard Tagle

CEO, Andy Roddick Foundation

Richard is the CEO of the Andy Roddick Foundation (ARF) and has led youth-focused organizations for over three decades. His passion for helping build children-centered communities has been the focus of his professional work. By centering community efforts, policies and resources on what children need to learn, develop and thrive, ARF creates a community that is respectful, inclusive and civic-minded. Because children who grow up feeling that their community has their back give back and re-create that kind of environment.

What has your experience been like with WeThrive?

Being part of the first cohort of WeThrive allowed me to be with peers who experience the same opportunities, challenges and fulfillment of both living up to our professional goals and at the same time being of service to our community. It was great to hear their stories which resonate with mine. In a sector largely grounded on scarcity-based consciousness, it is great to know these generous, collaborative, giving, and inspiring people.

What would you like other BIPOC EDs/CEOs to know about WeThrive?

Join the next cohort. Share your insights. Be heard. Because it is only through using your voice that we get to become a choir.

Maria P. Hernandez

ED, VELA

Maria P. Hernandez is the Founder & Executive Director of VELA. Maria launched the organization in 2011 to ensure that all families of children with disabilities could access knowledge, empowerment, resilience and community to create the best and brightest life for their family.

What has your experience been like with WeThrive?

So grateful to have had a safe and powerful space to connect with other BIPOC leaders. I loved getting to listen, learn and share about our hardships, joys and aspirations. Just a beautiful reminder of the power we hold and the possibilities on the horizon to change our communities so that all can benefit.

What would you like other BIPOC EDs/CEOs to know about WeThrive?

Do it! Give yourself this time to get out of your to-do lists and into yourself as a leader. It will not only serve you, but your organization and the community you represent.

Antony Jackson

Founder/CEO, We Can Now, Inc.

I am an Original East Austinknight who grew up through the many challenges that poverty brings forth. Faced with these challenges everyday, I asked myself what were my powers? what could I do to help myself, people and community? And God led me to create and bring forth We Can Now a community based nonprofit geared towards creating solutions and providing resources that would be beneficial for us all in Austin, TX. (Philippians 4:14 We Can!!!)

What has your experience been like with WeThrive?

My experience with WeThrive was a blessing, A cohort where I could thrive, learn, connect with other great people, listen to others who have accomplished things I am trying, too. A space for leaders to sharpen skills and connect to empower one another and our communities! WeThrive is certainly necessary and I highly recommend it to all leaders, business owners and people trying to build!

What would you like other BIPOC EDs/CEOs to know about WeThrive?

That WeThrive is very necessary in its purpose, the hosts Meme and Madge are great at what they do and truly have the people’s best interest. The space is fun, informative, and peaceful!

Brenda Sanchez Ortiz

ED, Austin Health Commons

My passion is to make measurable impact by fostering connection at all levels and supporting opportunities to advance health equity, for all people to heal and thrive. Born in South Texas to immigrant parents, I have experienced poverty, institutional racism, inter-generational trauma and all the impacts. However, I have also experienced the power of connection, partnership, and innovation in over 25 years of working with local, statewide, and regional nonprofits, federal and state-funded initiatives, and through partnership with under-resourced communities.

What has your experience been like with WeThrive?

I absolutely loved participating in the WeThrive cohort! I learned so much from my peers and understanding that I am not alone in facing doubts and challenges as a BIPOC leader. We received tools and new perspectives on how to enhance our leadership and communication. I am now part of a great network of colleagues that all deal with the joys and challenges of leadership!

What would you like other BIPOC EDs/CEOs to know about WeThrive?

As a BIPOC leader, you may experience fears and doubts about yourself and your leadership, without being able to confide in others in your organization. As part of WeThrive, you will be able to join a network of organizational leaders that are faced with similar challenges, to learn together and share experiences that will enhance your leadership skills and approach.

Other nonprofit CEO/EDs in our inaugural WeThrive cohort included: Barbra Boeta, ED of Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI), Patsy Harris, ED of PHI National, Jacquelyn Thomas, ED of Kids in Technology, Inc and Amina Haji, ED of Karisha Community Center for Wellness.  We are grateful for their leadership. 

Interested in participating in a future WeThrive cohort? Cohorts 2 and 3 are sold out. Join our WeThrive waitlist to be the first to learn about future dates.

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