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Black Leadership Accountability Essential

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Many Blacks, perhaps most, initially considered challenging Obama’s decisions sacrilegious, and more than a few continued to regard him as an icon to be neither properly critiqued nor criticized. Although increasingly concerned with his decisions, Blacks also needed to be concerned about ineffective Black leadership in general, especially in light of the daunting challenges in the 21st century.

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Martin Luther King Jr. addresses marchers during his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963.

Commentary: For African Americans in Philly, a call to leadership

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Originally Posted on

By Sharmain Matlock-Turner, David W. Brown, and Kelly Woodland

This year marks the last time that we will observe the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday under the auspices of the country’s first African American president. While that represents a significant milestone in our nation’s history, there is a bigger fact to consider:

If there was no King, there may not have been an Obama, and the connection to the two is directly related to how we prepare leaders of color.

Even though the two men had an impact that was separated by the death of one nearly 50 years ago and the ascendancy of the other 40 years later, their destinies are tied in a way that provides us lessons for developing African American leadership even today.

Before King became the civil rights icon that has inspired generations, he was nurtured in the pulpit and in the bosom of activism by his father – the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. From that foundation, King’s work empowered the types of networks that would eventually place the first African American in one of the highest seats of power in the world.

When it comes to diverse leadership, mentorship and building social capital are two of the most critical factors that ensure our society has the broadest array of talent in positions of influence shaping our global village.

Last year, the Philadelphia African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) examined the differences between African American-led and mainstream-led nonprofits. One of the key insights from our report was that rising African American nonprofit leaders lacked development opportunities and access to the type of social capital that benefited people such as the young Martin King and Barack Obama.

Based on that research, PAALF, along with the Urban League and the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute of Bryn Mawr College, is launching a training initiative that will provide a customized professional development initiative for ascending African American nonprofit leaders in our region.

This program, the Philadelphia African American Leadership Development Program, will run from February through June, with the support of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey’s Impact Fund. The program will incorporate seven days of workshops that not only include classic leadership training blended with exposure to regional and national thought leaders, but also provide a safe platform for honest and hard-hitting discourse about the achievements and challenges of African American nonprofit executives.

The program is designed to improve capacity among nonprofit leaders to better serve the African American community; promote communication and information-sharing among these leaders; build social capital by deepening the relationships with the broader philanthropic community; and expose leaders to promising research and best practices.

While this type of development is important for leaders of every stripe, it is critically important for African Americans who – as our research showed – are more likely to direct organizations that are under-resourced, underfunded, and overwhelmed with meeting pressing social needs than their mainstream counterparts. When your normal mode is “doing more with less,” connecting with others facing the same challenges can make all the difference in an organization’s success or failure – no matter how noble the mission.

King’s most memorable speech proudly proclaimed to the nation that he “had a dream.” It was, and continues to be, the mantra of so many who continue to pursue goals that are grounded in the belief that we are all “created equal” and should be afforded the same opportunities to make those dreams reality. By linking what we’ve learned from our past to help inform our present, we can be best equipped to ensure ourselves a better future.

Sharmain Matlock-Turner is the president and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition and serves as co-chair of the PAALF.

David W. Brown, co-chair of PAALF, is an assistant professor of instruction at Temple University’s School of Media and Communication.

Kelly Woodland is an assistant vice president of Fairmount Ventures Inc., and former managing director of the PAALF.

Charisse R. Lillie, Esquire accepts the inaugural 2016 Charles W. Bowser Leadership Award

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STANDING WITH PRIDE, Charisse R. Lillie, Esquire (center left) accepts the inaugural 2016 Charles W. Bowser Leadership Award from the Philadelphia African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) for her philanthropic contributions in the African American community. Pictured with Lillie are (from left) PAALF Co-Chair Rev. David W. Brown, of Temple University; PAALF Co-Chair Sharmain Matlock-Turner, Urban Affairs Coalition President & CEO; and PAALF Founding Executive Director, Kelly Woodland of Fairmount Ventures. Lillie serves as Fellow and Vice President of Community Investment for Comcast Corporation and as Executive Vice President of the Comcast Foundation. She is retiring from this position in January.

The PAALF is a collaborative of African American leaders committed to improving the quality of life and life chances for the African American community through strategic efforts in the nonprofit sector. The purpose of the reception honoring Lillie was to continue the work of the PAALF, in seeking to raise $50,000 annually in matching funds with the help of key stakeholders.

In 2013, the PAALF – with funding from the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey – commissioned a study of African American-led nonprofits in Philadelphia. The finding from the study showed a degree of segregation and isolation between African American-led and White-led organizations. For more information about the PAALF and to review the full results of the study, visit

2016 Annual Reception Honoring Charisse R. Lillie

2016 Annual Reception Honoring Charisse R. Lillie – Register Now

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Please join us on Friday, December 2, 2016 from 5PM – 7PM for a special reception hosted by the Philadelphia African American Leadership Forum honoring Charisse R. Lillie.

This inaugural Annual Reception will honor Charisse R. Lillie for her philanthropic contributions in the African American community. Charisse will receive the 2016 Charles W. Bowser Leadership Award.

Please confirm your attendance by registering at this link:

Event Details
PAALF Reception Honoring Charisse R. Lillie
Friday, December 2, 2016
5:00 – 7:00 PM
Comcast Center
1701 JFK Blvd, 45th Floor Reception Area

PAALF Co-Chair receives honor from the Public Relations Society of America for his contribution to the field

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Originally Posted Oct 21, 2016 on


David Brown was 13 when he understood the power of public relations. He didn’t know the field by name yet, but he knew that famous people are only famous because someone made them so.

And he told hundreds of Philadelphians about his discovery in an essay he’d written for the city’s bicentennial celebration in July 1976.

“Take the President for example,” he wrote. “Everyone knows his name. But do you know the names of those people who back him up?”

Brown would eventually put a name to his discovery in college, when he would major in public relations. He would hold numerous jobs in the field and run his own public relations firm at age 27.

Now, more than 40 years after he read the essay at the celebration in Fairmount Park, Brown will receive a Public Relations Society of America award to commemorate his contribution to the field at the organization’s International Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.

He is the first African-American to receive the award. “It is bittersweet,” Brown said, commenting on the field’s lack of diversity. “We need to acknowledge more practitioners of color.”

This isn’t the first time Brown has been recognized for his work. An ordained Reverend in the United Methodist Church, Brown has been recognized by President Obama as a “Champion of Change.”

“They (the White House) were very fascinated by the fact that the agencies and the work that I’ve done has been social-mission focused,” he said.

Brown decided early on in his career to spend his creative energies on causes that would benefit the community. “There’s always going to be somebody who’s going to take big tobacco or big gaming (accounts),” he said. But he chose to avoid such accounts because of their negative impact on the community, instead focusing on empowering nonprofits.

“With your passion and your creativity, you can make a change,” he said.

Last year, he joined the Department of Strategic Communication, where he shares this ethos with SMC students. In his Public Relations Management and Problems course, students focus on using their skills to help nonprofits. Brown said he wants to inspire his students to be more deliberate with their time and the type of work they choose.

Donnalyn Pompper, a colleague at the Department of Strategic Communication and a longtime friend nominated Brown for the PRSA award.

“I could not think of one person who could even come close to outshining what Professor Brown brings to the field of public relations education,” she said, adding that brown devoted his life to education, social justice, and public service.

“We’re just so lucky to have him at Temple.”

It's a matter of black and white new Philadelphia study shows

Nonprofit success? It’s a matter of black and white, new Philadelphia study shows

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Originally Posted Apr 28, 2016 on

David W. Brown and Kelly Woodland, Guest Columnists

Rarely in matters related to race can the issues be boiled down to contrasts between black and white. Typically, there are shades of gray that add nuance as to why situations are as they are and we find ourselves debating in those blurred lines.

That blurriness is about to gain clarity with a new report recently released by the Philadelphia African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) looking at the disparity between African American-led nonprofits and their mainstream counterparts as it relates to funding, sustainability, obstacles of the past and opportunities for the future.

In 2013, the PAALF, with funding from the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, commissioned a study of African American-led nonprofits in Philadelphia to understand whether the experiences and needs of African American-led nonprofits in Philadelphia differed in important ways from white-led nonprofits.

The study included a survey of 145 Executive Directors or CEOs (“EDs”) of human service-oriented nonprofits in Philadelphia, two focus groups with African American EDs, and four interviews with local funders. Of the survey respondents, 74 are African American (51 percent), 63 are White (43 percent), and 8 are another race/ethnicity (6 percent). Those survey findings were compared between African American and White EDs to uncover similarities and differences in their experiences and organizations.

What we found was enlightening.

While running any nonprofit (regardless of who is at the helm) is tough, black-led organizations struggle more than their white-led counterparts and typically have fewer resources to do so. The study found that organizations led by African Americans are smaller, as defined by the number of staff and volunteers. African American-led organizations have fewer cash reserves and are more dependent on government grants than white-led organizations. These findings regarding cash reserves and government funding may make African American-led organizations more vulnerable to recessions and changes in government, and thus more financially precarious than white-led organizations.

Knowing the differences is not as important as what we do about the differences.

Regardless of the challenges, our city has tremendous, talented and determined nonprofit organizations led by African American leaders, doing terrific work. However, as a city, we must be intentional about our commitments to diversity and inclusion if things are going to change.

The recommendations coming out of the report show us a clear course of action to honoring our diverse sector and building greater inclusion.

First, PAALF will need to work with funders and intermediaries to ensure that all African American led nonprofits have adequate access to technology and are using data collection resources well so that they can demonstrate their impact. This kind of capacity building combined with professional/leadership development initiatives for ascending and emerging African American nonprofit leaders will help make our organizations sustainable and effective.

Secondly, our research revealed that African American led nonprofits are operating in relative isolation and lack the social capital necessary to position our organizations for funding or simply afford our leadership access to influential individuals in the city. The PAALF will be deliberate in promoting more collaboration and engagement among African American led nonprofit leaders and the regional philanthropic community.

Our study also uncovered that while there is a pool of African American talent, there is no pipeline for leadership, especially among those African American senior or middle management professionals working in majority led organizations. To that end, PAALF will work with CEOs and HR staff at majority led nonprofits to ensure that all African American senior and middle management staff are afforded appropriate and consistent professional development opportunities required for upward mobility.

But none of this will be successful without changes in how we recruit and employ African American nonprofit talent.

With that, PAALF will promote a nonprofit hiring policy similar to the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” whereas every available leadership position in the philanthropy and nonprofit sector must solicit the PAALF for qualified African American candidates for consideration and be guaranteed interviews. We will create, cultivate, and manage a talent data base comprised of African American nonprofit senior level managers and executive directors and partner with employers and/or search firms in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors to place qualified candidates in available leadership.

In addition, by promoting philanthropy in the African American community, like the Black Philanthropy Network of Philadelphia, to develop “Giving Circles” in an effort to support high priority issues confronting our community, we can pool our resources to combat community issues.

>Further, the PAALF will develop, cultivate, and manage a talent database comprised of prospective African American board candidates with skills in business development; fiscal management; and wealth creation, and match these prospects with African American led nonprofit organizations. PAALF will also work to ensure that more African-Americans are represented on majority white boards in an effort to cultivate leadership.

Ultimately, these efforts will build a stronger and more vibrant nonprofit sector, one where leaders of African American-led organizations will be able to access the full wealth of opportunities, networks, resources and tools they need to do the important and impactful work they do in the communities that depend on them.

Sharmain Matlock-Turner is the President and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition and serves as co-chair of the PAALF along with David W. Brown, the Visiting Assistant Professor of Instruction at Temple University’s School of Media and Communication; Kelly Woodland is an Assistant Vice President of Fairmount Inc., and former managing director of the PAALF.