Alumni Spotlight: Celebrating 10 Cohorts of DiverseForce On Boards

DFOB 10 Cohorts Celebration

This September, ImpactED and DiverseForce launched the 11th cohort of  DiverseForce On Boards. The DiverseForce On Boards program seeks to address the lack of diversity on nonprofit boards by offering leaders of color training and support in effective board governance.  Since 2017, the program has trained nearly 300 professionals of color and has matched nearly 80% of graduates to nonprofit boards in the greater Philadelphia region.

In celebration of achieving our 10-cohort milestone, we wanted to highlight the leadership and accomplishments of DiverseForce On Boards alumni. We reached out to our program graduates to learn more about how they are making change in their communities post-graduation.

Orcel KoungaAlum: Orcel Kounga

Profession: Director of Admissions and Student Affairs, Drexel College of Medicine

Cohort: 9

What is a recent personal or professional project or experience that you are most proud of?

In my role as Director of Admissions & Student Affairs at Drexel College of Medicine's regional campus, I helped spearhead an initiative to reshape our recruitment strategies. Recognizing the pivotal role of diversity in fostering innovation, I spearheaded the development of strategic recruitment policies that prioritize inclusivity and equity. Guided by my experiences within the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives, and drawing upon the robust foundation provided by the DFOB program, I engaged stakeholders, students, and faculty in a collaborative process. We redefined our approach, emphasizing holistic assessment to identify qualities that transcend standardized metrics. This initiative not only aligns with the institution's commitment to social responsibility but also cultivates a student body reflective of the diverse patient population we serve. This project by the Admissions team was initiated due to the SCOTUS decision on the Harvard case over this summer. Although there is still a lot more to go and to see the effects of this decision, the groundwork and foundation is set.

How has your experience in the DFOB program influenced the project or helped you to achieve success?

The DFOB program's emphasis on holistic leadership and strategic thinking has been instrumental in shaping my perspective. It equipped me with the skills needed to navigate complex challenges, enabling me to chart a course toward innovative solutions. By leveraging insights from DFOB, I introduced a comprehensive communication plan that ensures transparency and inclusivity throughout the application process. This has fostered a sense of belonging, driving both prospective students and the institution toward mutual success. The DFOB program has been more than an academic pursuit; it has been a compass guiding me toward excellence. Through my journey, it has provided me with the tools to not only excel professionally but also to make a tangible impact on the lives of those within and beyond my institution. I am excited to continue my journey, applying the lessons from the DFOB program to foster innovation, equity, and success within medical education. If my story can inspire others to embrace change and champion diversity, then I am honored to be a part of the impact.

Leona ThomasAlum: Leona Thomas

Profession: President and Strategic Advisor, Enabling Investments

Cohort: 5

What is a recent personal or professional project or experience that you are most proud of?

I am proud to serve as a Board Member for Philadelphia City Rowing (PCR) where I am now the Board Secretary, in addition to being on the Governance Committee. I joined to help PCR continue our journey in building the foundations for making Philadelphia City Rowing a long-term sustainable organization. Over its history, Philadelphia City Rowing has grown from a program providing rowing opportunities and educational support for Philadelphia Public High School students to now serving over 300 Philadelphia Public Middle and High School students from over 50 schools per year with the opportunity to row plus so much more. The organization now provides guidance counseling, SAT Prep, mentoring, healthy living education, a new summer competition team, and summer learn-to-row programs FOR FREE. Philadelphia City Rowing provides belonging in a supportive community through middle and high school programs during the academic year and even offers several summer jobs to current and former students. While rowing is important, the focus is truly about developing our youth into full well-rounded people as seen by the focus on education, including a 100% senior graduation rate and an estimated 95%+ of our students going into post-secondary education programs. One of my favorite times is the end-of-year graduation awards, where the seniors are all recognized and there are several PCR-specific awards recognizing the efforts teammates gave in support of each other! I can't wait to see the continued growth in our students as well as the continued growth and strengthening of our Board, our fundraising community of support, and the organization as a whole!

How has your experience in the DFOB program influenced the project or helped you to achieve success?

I found out about Philadelphia City Rowing through the DFOB board matching program. I had never heard of PCR prior to the program, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve an organization that is focused on giving Philadelphia Public School students opportunities to come together with students from all over the city. PCR helps students to build community and relationships with each other while continuing to grow themselves academically, physically, mentally and become responsible members of their community.