Yolanda F. Johnson is rolling out Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy (WOC) to support her colleagues in the field. Johnson is a multi-faceted juggernaut whose life’s work encompasses the performing arts, teaching, and non-profit management, with an accent on women, and women of color, in philanthropy and the arts.
Johnson is the first African-American to serve as President of Women in Development, a 40-year-old organization devoted to empowering and supporting New York-area women in the development field. She has an M.A. in arts management, and is a lyric soprano and music composer, teacher, and director. Johnson has performed nationally and internationally in operas, solo concerts, oratorios and sacred music, and is a recitalist and lecturer with a particular interest in spirituals related to the Underground Railroad. She is co-creator of Music She Wrote, a concert celebration of women composers.
Johnson has more than 20 years of experience in the philanthropy world, and is founder and leader of YJF Consulting, where she provides expertise in non-profit management, fundraising, and special events. She was recently appointed to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Advisory Committee of national leaders in the non-profit sector, and holds a number of other leadership and advisory positions.
As part of YJF Consulting, Johnson created All the World’s A Stage, a workshop in which techniques from the performance world are used to boost confidence and effectiveness in fundraising and philanthropy, and advance professionally. In her work at Women in Development (WID), Johnson co-established the WID “Diversity and Inclusion Task Force,” and she is an expert in incorporating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives into organizational culture.
YJF Consulting’s newest venture is launching soon under the banner Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy (WOC). It is dedicated to “Celebrating, Inspiring and Championing Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy.” Johnson has extensive expertise in producing contributed and earned income for non-profits; securing foundation, corporate, and government funding; and cultivating major gifts portfolios. In this instance, however, she is devoting her energies to women of color working in the non-profit world.
In order to see real, lasting change, we must begin with ourselves. Let us naturally include women of color in the way we think about leadership, careers and advancement. Not as “others,” or exceptions, but as the norm in a society that welcomes the talents, skills and leadership of women of color and values them just as equally as anyone else. There is a place for all of us at the table. I invite all women of color to take their seats and WOC is here to lead the way.
According to Johnson, “WOC endeavors to be the ‘hub’ and ‘heart’ for women of color in the fundraising and philanthropic communities around the world.” The WOC program includes support in a range of areas including professional development, events, career self-assessment, networking, and financial literary
The non-profit world pays less to start with than the for-profit sectors; add to that gender and race disparities, and women of color in the non-profit world are at a serious disadvantage. According to WOC, a quarter of women of color with “advanced academic achievement” work in low-level administrative positions, and 28 percent of women of color in CEO/ Senior Leadership positions who hold advanced degrees earn $50,000 or less annually. WOC notes that at the current pace, it will take 40 years for women to reach parity with men.
WOC quotes further statistics from the Building Movement Project’s report Race to Lead: Women of Color in the Nonprofit Sector, indicating the barriers women of color face compared to their white counterparts, and to men of color. Education and training alone are not sufficient combat these disparities: women of color with comparable levels of education as white women and men of color are still more likely to be confined to lower level administrative roles, and suffer from low and unequal salaries.
Evidently, systems and organizational change, and support for individual women of color working in the non-profit sector are needed, and this is the area Johnson is targeting. For more information on WOC: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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