Building Bridges Through Board Diversity Event

On Tuesday, February 27 ArtsFund hosted its second annual Setting the Table for More Diverse Nonprofit Boards event—an evening focused on ways to expand racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity in board leadership.

Attendees arrived at Impact Hub Seattle to hear from community leaders in a panel discussion on paths to leadership, overcoming barriers to participation, and promoting a culture of inclusiveness on boards, in addition to participating in post-panel networking with arts organizations. Emcees Mari Horita (President & CEO, ArtsFund) and Fred Rivera (Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Seattle Mariners, and ArtsFund Board member) kicked off the night by welcoming the guests before handing the stage over to the panel.

L-R: Jill Nishi, Anthony Miles, Gov. Gary Locke, Florangela Davila, Mimi Gan

Moderator Mimi Gan led the discussion and introduced panelists Florangela Davila (Managing Editor, Crosscut), Gary Locke (Former WA Governor, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and U.S. Ambassador to China), Jill Nishi (Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), and Anthony Miles (Partner, Stoel Rives). The group shared anecdotes and advice on their experience with board service, and the challenges that come with it.

The panel spoke on the need for and practicality of increasing diversity of boards. Governor Locke said it makes “business sense” for boards, adding it is in their best interest to have diverse board representation—not just racial or gender or ethnic diversity, but also socioeconomic diversity. Jill Nishi agreed, adding that there is an emerging body of evidence that more diverse organizations are better at achieving their missions.

The panelists also offered advice to prospective and current board members on navigating their roles in leadership. Florangela Davila encouraged attendees to use their voice, and to not be afraid to ask questions. “Be active, consistent, and persistent,” said Anthony Miles, and though change may be slow, “it will come.” Mimi Gan suggested that if a potential board member is feeling nervous about committing to a board role, they can dip their toe in by joining a committee or volunteering to with the organization before joining.

After the panel’s end, guests had the opportunity to network with each other and the 16 tabling arts and cultural organizations (listed below). Attendees circled the room, meeting with representatives from the cultural organizations to learn more about them and their boards, and talked with one another and the panelists. Survey feedback has indicated that many new connections were made throughout the evening.

Participating Organizations:

Guests were also invited to register for ArtsFund’s Board Leadership Training program, a bi-annual five week course detailing why and how to get on a nonprofit board, legal and financial responsibilities of boards, strategic planning, best governance practices and fundraising.

To view additional photos from the event, visit our Facebook page. Photos by Robert Wade Photography.

To view the event agenda and panelist bios, click here.

Special thanks to our panelists and emcees, Impact Hub SeattlePhở Cyclo Café Catering, and to all of our guests for attending.

This event was generously sponsored by The Boeing Company.