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This Affinity Group Confronts Racism in Westchester’s Nonprofit Sector

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Nonprofit Westchester makes history against racism in the nonprofit sector with the formation of a bimonthly Peer-to-Peer meeting, the first-ever affinity group for nonprofit personnel of color in the county.

The group first met on May 19, 2022, at the Westchester Library System with the goal of progressing racial equity in the nonprofit sector of Westchester County.

“Research, data, and lived experiences clearly demonstrate that existing injustices in other parts of our society also exist in nonprofit agencies,” explains NPW Executive Director Jan Fisher. “Yet, it is within the nonprofit sector that we find the wealth of resources, expertise, and leadership that is essential to building a more just and equitable Westchester across nonprofit, business, and government sectors.”

The initiative from Nonprofit Westchester (NPW) was ignited by the increasing disparity gap between white individuals and people of color in several major categories throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“When NPW engaged in this important action, we did so intentionally,” said Michelle A. Nicholas, Board Member of Nonprofit Westchester. “This Peer-to-Peer Affinity Group is a safe and brave space for people of color to express, heal and support each other with the aim of promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion across nonprofits in Westchester County.”

Affinity group in Westchester

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A result of the April 7 forum, entitled “Taking Action: Charting an Anti-Racist Path Forward in Westchester’s Nonprofit Sector,” the group is addressing four key issue systems essential to building anti-racist systems including “supporting people of color to lead.”

“As a member of the NPW Board, I am so encouraged by its focus on supporting nonprofit leaders of color,” adds Lucria Ortiz, President and CEO of Yonkers Family YMCA. “An affinity group dedicated to the development of our leaders is imperative and I am honored to be a part of its formation. We are creating a pathway for leaders of color in the nonprofit sector to see themselves in higher positions, to bring the language of equity to the right tables and push for organizational policy change.”

Ortiz and Nicholas will lead the next Peer-to-Peer meeting scheduled for July 29, along with NPW Racial Equity Consultant Dr. Alexandra Connally, CEO of Culturally Responsive Environments and Disciplines. More information on the meetings can be found on the NPW website at npwestchester.org.

Related: Westchester’s Women in Business in 2021 Are Making an Impact

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