[caption id="attachment_218272" align="alignleft" width="200"] Cynthia Primo Martin[/caption]
WILMINGTON – Cynthia Primo Martin has grown used to often being one of the few people of color in the nonprofit leadership world.It’s the reason that she founded Trustees of Color, an advocacy and consulting organization that recruited more than 500 people of color for board service and advised nonprofits on how to diversify their leadership. After running the organization for 19 years, Martin retired and aimed to put her knowledge to wider use by writing a guidebook that any organization could follow.The 102-page “Handbook for Nonprofit Leadership: Recruiting, Training and Engaging Trustees of Color” took three years of stops and starts to complete, aided by the downtime provided by the pandemic which also highlighted the importance of diverse perspectives in serving clients. Martin breaks down the advice into six sections, covering preparing a board for diversifying, how to attract and interview people of color, and how to successfully onboard and include chosen candidates.She intersperses the guidebook with personal stories meant to help a reader reflect on how actions can affect people of color serving on the boards. They range from cultural insensitivities to cold welcomes by colleagues, and awkwardness from members and executives about how to discuss diversity needs.The first section, which advises boards on self-assessment and preparation for more diversity, is the most important although sometimes most difficult part, Martin said.“If your board is not ready to participate in this kind of recruitment, training, orientation and sustainability of a trustee, if the commitment doesn't come from the top, then then it will not work,” she said.Martin also emphasizes the importance of inclusivity versus diversity, or not just adding people of color to fulfill a self-appointed quota but rather to diversify perspectives.“The voices need to be heard, listened to and then considered. You have to make sure that they're part of the decision-making,” she said. “We all have different perspectives, and you want the best possible choices to be made.”To order or learn more about the book, visit cedartreebooks.com.
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