The Boston Foundation has a rich history of lifting women up. Sarah Louise Arnold, President of Simmons College, was on the first board in 1915. She couldn’t vote for U.S. President—suffrage hadn’t passed yet—but she could vote on grants at the Boston Foundation. Over the years, a number of women of color have served on the Foundation’s board—including, among others, Elma Lewis, Muriel Snowden and Bennie Wiley. And in the 1990s, the Foundation was led by two women of color—President and CEO Anna Faith Jones and Board Chair Frieda Garcia.
On November 1st, hundreds attended a special reception at the Foundation honoring five outstanding women of color—all accomplished, effective leaders in their fields. The event was organized by the Foundation’s Senior Director of Grassroots Programs, Natanja Craig-Oquendo, who announced a new Women of Color Leadership Circle that will launch in 2019.
“Tonight is about those at the grassroots and those at the grass tops,” said Craig-Oquendo, opening the evening. “Tonight is about our sisters on the block and those in board rooms, our undocumented sisters who fight daily for the rights that many of us take for granted—and the leaders who boldly run for office and represent us at the State House, City Hall and now in Washington, D.C.” She ended to a round of rousing applause, “Make no mistake, tonight is not simply about moving the needle; it’s about changing the record!”
Five outstanding women leaders of color were honored at the event:
Grace Moreno, longtime nonprofit leader and Executive Director of the new Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce;
Elaine Ng, CEO of TSNE Missionworks and a veteran of the nonprofit and education sectors;
Rachel Skerritt, a talented educator, now Headmaster of Boston Latin School; and
Nnenna Ude, CEO of Match Education, who has devoted her career to helping students succeed.
A group of women of color grassroots leaders introduced those being honored and all of the honorees spoke movingly about their obstacles, triumphs and hope for the future.