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Women of Color Leadership Circle

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” —Maya Angelou

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As part of an ongoing effort to uplift the leadership and voices of women of color leaders in Greater Boston, we are recruiting for the 2022 Anna Faith Jones & Frieda Garcia Women of Color Leadership Circle.

This program, originally conceived by Natanja Craig Oquendo of the Boston Women’s Fund, and Andrea Madu and Stephanie Guidry of the Boston Foundation, is inspired by two groundbreaking women of color leaders: Anna Faith Jones and Frieda Garcia. In the 1990s, they led the Boston Foundation as the CEO and Board Chair and were the first women of color to occupy those roles in our foundation’s history. The Women of Color Leadership Circle is inspired by the close partnership, vision, friendship, and legacy of these two incredible leaders. We stand on the shoulders of giants and these trailblazing women have paved the way for women of color within our sector.

About the Program

The WOC Leadership Circle is a six-month cohort program that aims to support women of color leaders to advance their professional development and leadership goals. Through the program, up to 15 women of color leaders participate in six monthly facilitated sessions focused around topics of interest and areas of professional development and leadership. The program aims to honor the leadership, strength, and resilience of women of color who do incredible work within their communities and provide them with a cherished space to share challenges and opportunities.

 Program Information

Applications are now closed.

Interviews: October and November 2021

Cohort finalized: December 2021

Sessions begin: January 20th, 2021

For any questions, please email Talissa Lahaliyed, Associate, Programs

 Blog Posts

Read Talissa Lahaliyed and Natanja Craig Oquendo’s blogpost on WOCLC reflections and relaunch

Read Andrea Madu's posts on the WOCLC launch and announcing the first cohort


Program Goals

The Women of Color Leadership Circle aims to:

  • Deepen connections, nurture leaders and communities, and foster collaboration
  • Provide professional development support that is responsive to the experiences of women of color leaders in the nonprofit sector
  • Raise visibility of women of color leaders who are often overlooked
  • Support women of color leaders to further develop their leadership and professional goals
  • Create a safe space for fellowship, belonging, learning, and self-care

Program Offerings

  • Six monthly day-long sessions for women of color leaders to develop professionally, unleash their potential, learn new skills and approaches through peer learning, and build strong relationships with one another. Sessions will be customized to shared topics of leaders’ interest.
  • Four hours of executive coaching for each participant by women of color coaches.

Participant Criteria

Must identify as a woman* of color in a leadership position** at a nonprofit organization, coalition, or network within Greater Boston.

Priority will be given to women of color leaders from organizations with budgets below $2 million; Priority will also be given to women of color leaders in organizations without a professional development budget.

Must be able to attend all six day-long sessions***:

  • January 20th, 2022
  • February 17th, 2022
  • March 17th, 2022
  • April 14th, 2022
  • May 19th, 2022
  • June 16th, 2022

*We are committed to supporting communities and individuals historically excluded from institutional philanthropy – including, but not limited to LGBTQIA people, immigrants and refugees, and people with disabilities. As such, we strongly encourage applications from individuals who identify with these groups and/or other marginalized communities.

**We define “leadership position” as a role where an individual has decision-making power to establish and influence organizational strategy, vision, and direction, and manages staff/volunteers, budget in collaboration with a governance body.

*** We are planning for in-person sessions in 2022. However, this is subject to change as we continue to assess the COVID-19 pandemic. We are committed to ensuring the safety of program participants and will follow CDC guidelines.

Sample 2020 Curriculum

In this session, participants have an opportunity to form deep bonds of connection through storytelling and to create agreements and principles for developing and transforming their relationships through trust-building and a heart-centered mindset. They share their leadership journeys and generate goals for their participation in the cohort with the support of guided meditation and other inner awareness practices.

In this session, participants learn practical wisdom for leadership through an equity and transformational lens, using peer sharing and cases to support the evolution of their approaches to leadership.

In this session, participants explore how to create a regenerative work environment that is supportive of their leadership and gifts. They learn how to set healthy boundaries in their work and negotiate terms that support their leadership in areas such as salary, time off, benefits, and other needs.

Participants learn to prioritize their spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional health and growth. They are introduced to various forms of inner awareness, self-care, and healing practices to create joy, peace, resiliency, and connection in their lives. 

Participants learn ways to find and honor their true identity and strengths as women, to transform their shame into power, and to firmly own their unique experiences and narrative unapologetically.

In this last session, participants each share their leadership visions going forward and support and celebrate their journey in the cohort together.


We envision the Women of Color Leadership Circle as a safe space for belonging, fellowship, learning, unlearning, self-care, and restoration, where participants can share their challenges and frustrations and learn and grow from each other’s experiences. While the experiences of women of color differ across race, class, and gender identity, we believe leaders within the cohort can support each other to navigate the individual and collective challenges they may face. Through this program, we also hope to develop more effective ways to support women of color leaders within the nonprofit sector.

The program was designed by a team of brilliant women of color leaders who enjoy laughing, dancing, singing, and dreaming big: Andrea Madu, Kelly Bates, Aba Taylor, Talissa Lahaliyed, Fernanda Oliveira Costa, Evelyn Barahona, Trina Jackson, Suzanne Lee, Sheena Collier, Renata Teodoro, and Karla Nicholson. Sessions are facilitated by Aba Taylor and Kelly Bates from Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC) and include both individual and team work, peer knowledge sharing, skills-building, and opportunities for joy and self-care. The program is funded by the Boston Foundation and the Angell Foundation.

Meet the 2020 Women of Color Leadership Circle