Effort to Increase Latino Involvement In Leadership Roles in Lawrence




                                     Members of the Dominican American council in Lawrence are part of  the
                                                                        growing Latino population.   

A handful of baby boomers exchange polite pleasantries with young professionals wearing shy smiles. A few already know one another, but most have never met.
To break the ice, the moderator begins with a game. Everyone gathers in a tight circle. A series of questions is posed. Those who respond with a nod must stand; those who shake their heads remain seated.
Who is under the age of 30? Over the age of 70? Grew up feeling they didn’t have enough? Felt they had more than enough? Was raised in a home where religion was important? Attended school in another country? Speaks more than one language?
As the questions continue, one woman jokingly says she can skip her gym workout because she’s had to pop out of her chair so many times. Others giggle. Everyone is relaxed.

And that is precisely the point. The goal of the game is to make the 28 men and women, strangers of different generations, feel comfortable enough to discuss issues often viewed as taboo — faith, culture, socioeconomic class — and explore how their personal experiences have shaped the way they view the world and one another.

‘I was on [the YWCA] board, but slowly faded away. I didn’t know when I should speak up, how to contribute.’

The recent gathering, on Northern Essex Community College’s Lawrence campus, is the result of a nonprofit venture that seeks to increase diversity on the boards of agencies serving this former mill city’s most vulnerable residents.

The Cultural Inclusion pilot project, a partnership of Jericho Road Lawrence and the YWCA of Greater Lawrence Inc., is now in its second year. The participants include “recruits,” young Latino professionals who want to give back to the city they love, and nonprofit agencies that are committed to welcoming minority board members.

“When we started this, we saw a clear inequity between the demographics of nonprofit boards and the populations they served,” said Joan Kulash, executive director of Jericho Road Lawrence, a nonprofit that strives to address social and economic disparities in the region by strengthening local nonprofits. “It seemed unfair.”
It is a central challenge for nonprofits in general — on average, 86 percent of nonprofit board members nationwide are white — and in Lawrence in particular, where few minorities serve on nonprofit boards though nearly 74 percent of residents are Latino or Hispanic and only 20 percent are white, the latest US Census data show.
The city’s demographics have……..
To read full story:http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/north/2013/11/14/lawrence-nonprofits-aim-increase-board-diversity-with-cultural-inclusion-project/09fQXBeMCXinbC9saoyODI/story.html