Sit at the table with Cynthia Primo Martin and Trustees of Color. Plus, a local hair and makeup artist does Time, world affairs in Wilmington, and more.
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Trustees of Color matches potential board members with local nonprofits to increase diversity among boards. Now TOC’s
mission is expanding statewide.
Cynthia Primo Martin once served on the boards of eight nonprofits simultaneously.
“That really is too many,” she says. “You can’t give quality help and time to that many.”
But serving on one board or committee, she says, is not much to ask of anyone. Martin, an African-American business and community leader from Wilmington, founded Trustees of Color in 2003 to recruit and train people of color for the boards and committees of local nonprofits.
Since then, the need for more diverse boards has become evident, she says, so TOC’s mission is expanding beyond New Castle County to cover the state.
“Thirty percent of people in the state are people of color,” Martin says. “We have to have at least 30 percent represented. We have to be at the table to make a difference.”
TOC uses a Website to match potential trustees of color with entities such as Food Bank of Delaware, YWCA and the Delaware Art Museum. The initiative has helped land about 90 people of color on the boards of 40 nonprofits.
“A lot of nonprofits serve people of color, especially the social services,” Martin says. “I think the nonprofit organizations need the skills, talents and experiences of people of color. Not any one person has all the answers. We need people with the background to solve these problems and fulfill these missions.”
The Food Bank of Delaware was one of the first organizations to join TOC. It now has three trustees of color on its board. Food Bank president and CEO Patricia Beebe, who has chaired TOC’s advisory committee for three years, has been pleased with the results.
“They’ve been great board members,” Beebe says. “They brought the expertise of their organizations. They’ve worked on children’s issues, children’s feeding, fundraising, policy and the anti-hunger coalition.”
Martin says TOC helps develop young leaders by providing training, nurturing and networking opportunities.
“We don’t want people to just sit there on the board,” Martin says. “We want them to engage so input can be given and heard and respected.” —Drew Ostroski
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