It’s Time to See Change

On September 15, 2017, the headline of the Austin Business Journal read, “This is Austin and this is a problem.” The picture was a predominately white group of individuals. I often say it is hard to live in Austin as an African-American despite it being considered a world-class city. The quality of life is top notch, the people are friendly, and those who don’t live here envy the culture. But there are days when I can go an entire day without seeing someone that looks like me. I won’t get into the breakdown of the city’s demographics, but if you’re interested you can read this for a deep dive.

Ausitn is Weird, but Not Diverse

The lack of diversity is something Austin is taking seriously because its ability to recruit business is at risk. If you’re like me, you’ve been watching our country’s top cities court Amazon for its second headquarter. And the lack of diversity in Austin came up as something Amazon was looking at during the selection process.

I digress, so I’ll get to the point of today’s post. This trend touches every part of our city, and the non-profit community is no exception. Many of Austin’s nonprofit boards are not diverse, and the pipeline of talent isn’t what it could be. It’s also a trend that you’ll find across the country. BoardSource’s 2017 report Leading with Intent talks about how board diversity has declined, and it is a trend not likely to change. They say it’s because many boards are not prioritizing demographics when recruiting and not focusing on retaining talent. This is despite stating their intent of improving diversity.

When I wrote my first post on November 21st, I talked about being spread thin. I get asked to sit on a lot of boards, chair a lot of events, and recruit diverse candidates to boards. This is a side effect of everything BoardSource and other organizations are working to change. Instead of saying YES to all or keeping these opportunities to myself, I’ve decided to connect organizations to potential candidates for their boards. It’s what I call making a way for others and part of my noble purpose.

The Time is Now

There’s good news for Austin. There are people who want to create change. Tonight, I’ll be participating in a program of The New Philanthropists, led by Monica Williams and Mando Rayo, two persons focused on bringing new faces to the table and opportunities to those who might not know about them.

I also see this conversation occurring in many Junior Leagues across the country. As a board member of the Association of Junior Leagues International, I know this is most important to my colleagues. AJLI has invested in a new diversity and inclusion curriculum to ensure their leaders have resources to help them lead in a conscious manner in this area.

Here’s my #ASK for you: what is happening in your community? How are you contributing to creating a diverse pipeline of leaders? When you advocate, who are you bringing to the table? Are you using the voice of all to tell your stories? Are you a League Leader and using the new AJLI resource? If so, how is it going? Have you signed the new AJLI diversity pledge? Let me know!

#GIVE: I’ll be sure to share any resources made available tonight by The New Philanthropists. If you’re in Austin and interested in serving on a board, email me and I’ll connect you with some organizations. If you’re in Junior League and are interested in AJLI service, let me know. Let’s do our part to create a way for those who are ready to serve!

I’ll start posting some information in this area on LinkedIn and my Twitter Feed. Follow me @TerriBWilliams and

*Note: Author originally posted on Facebook on December 6, 2017. Thanks to The New Philanthropists for the cool photos from their event.

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