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During Black History month, BWF Executive Director Natanja Craig Oquendo was a featured panelist on GBH's historic TV show "Basic Black"!

Celebrating its 55th season, “Basic Black” was created in 1968 and is the longest-running program on public TV focusing on the interests of people of color.

Together, the panel discussed the impact of more BIPOC-led foundations on philanthropy at large and how New England philanthropy is transforming in communities of color.

If you missed the live broadcast, you can still catch the full episode online.

Like many of you, we at the Boston Women’s Fund are traumatized, hurt, and frustrated by the police brutality that took Tyre Nichols’ life. It seems another violent tragedy takes place before we have had time to fully process the harm of the tragedy before. As we weed through the layers of hurt, to be truthful, our team is experiencing response fatigue. How many more messages like this will we write in 2023 alone? What will it take for us to see lasting change that dismantles systemic racism within our nation?

Today, we were able to hold space as a community and gathered virtually to share, grieve, and just be. We shared stories. We shared feelings of devastation, anger, numbness, and fear. We reminded each other that there is no “right” way to feel. Trauma tends to stay in our bodies, so we reminded each other to move when we could. We’ll extend these reminders to you, as well. Take a walk. Stand and stretch. Shake out your limbs. Pause. Be with others if you feel drawn to healing in community.

With the heaviness of Tyre’s murder, and all of the videos and news circulating, we want to make sure people are taking care of themselves. Here are a few resources that we have found helpful:

Boston Women’s Fund will continue to support Black and Brown leaders working on the ground for racial justice. If you need anything from us, if we can support you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

In Solidarity,

-Natanja Craig Oquendo

Executive Director

Boston Women's Fund

Updated: Mar 6

The Boston Women’s Fund is thrilled to announce the 15 women and gender-expansive leaders of color who comprise the 2023 Anna Faith Jones and Frieda Garcia Women of Color Leadership Circle (WOCLC)! In the 1990s, Anna Faith Jones and Freida Garcia led the Boston Foundation as the CEO and Board Chair and were the first women of color to occupy those roles in the foundation’s history. This program, initially run by the Boston Foundation with support from the Angell Foundation, was designed by a team of women of color leaders and is inspired by Jones’ and Garcia’s close partnership and vision.

Entering its third year, the WOCLC is now led by the Boston Women’s Fund and facilitated by the Interaction Institute for Social Change, with support from the Boston Foundation and Angell Foundation.

“We are so motivated by the friendship and camaraderie that Anna Faith Jones and Freida Garcia were able to create despite the often unspoken pressures of being the first woman of color in a prominent leadership role,” said Natanja Craig Oquendo, Executive Director at Boston Women’s Fund. “Modeling that, we wanted to create a supportive space where women and gender-expansive folks could talk openly about white supremacy and the harm that it’s done in our community. The Women of Color Leadership Circle does just that, and we’re excited to continue this work.”

The WOCLC honors the leadership, strength, and resilience of women and gender-expansive individuals of color who do incredible work within their communities. The six-month cohort program provides these leaders a supportive space to advance their leadership journeys through group sessions and individual executive coaching by women of color coaches. But the content goes beyond a traditional leadership development program because Black and Brown women and gender-expansive individuals encounter unique barriers to leadership roles.

The 2019 Race to Lead report showed that in a survey of nonprofit employees, only 41% of women of color had a mentor within their organization, as compared to 52% of white men. Moreover, many women of color shared that they found themselves, and their ideas, often left out, ignored, or faced with hyper-scrutiny. Despite their interest in top-leadership positions, women of color were the largest group to share that their race had been a barrier to their career advancement.

Through our lived experience, we know the isolation and unique challenges many women and gender-expansive individuals of color face while moving within systems of white supremacy culture in the workplace. The program is designed to speak to these specific challenges. We envision the WOCLC as a safe space for belonging, fellowship, learning, unlearning, and self-care, where participants can share their challenges and frustrations and learn and grow from each other’s experiences.

"Women and gender-expansive people of color are leading at unprecedented levels. They are finally being recognized for their gifts, creativity, and abilities,” said Kelly Bates, President of Interaction Institute for Social Change. “In this program, they are given a break from isolation, critique, and stress. They immerse in a courageous community to transform oppression, trauma, and shame into power."

This year’s cohort features women from a wide variety of sectors. Members are from organizations small and large. Their leadership experience spans from first-time coordinators to executives, and the cohort’s varied identities reflect the truth that we are far from a monolith. In response to feedback from previous members of the Circle, we look forward to bringing the 2023 cohort together through a mix of virtual and in-person sessions. We are eager to witness the bonds they will form on this deeply moving and personal journey.

A listing of the fifteen members of the 2023 Circle is below. Learn more about the Women of Color Leadership Circle at The 2023 program begins on January 26th.

Jada Alleyne, she/her

School Age Program Manager

Community Art Center

Jamila Gales, she/her

GROW Leadership

Girls Reflecting Our World (GROW) / Community Engagement

Celiana Guante, she/her

Human Resources and Operations Manager

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Health Policy Commission

Yarice Hidalgo, she/her

Executive Director

CyberWarrior Foundation

Misti Jaynes, she/her

Board Member

Program Committee Chairperson

Women Thriving, Inc.

Rania Kelly, she/her



Alexis B. Major, she/her

Chief Operating Officer

Assistant Director of Programming

Dreamcatcher Initiative Inc.


Restuccia Health Justice Fellowship

Jennie McDonald-Brown, she/her

Executive Director of Development

Roxbury Community College

Cynthia K. Orellana, she/her


Office of Community Partnerships, University of Massachusetts Boston

Gina Josette Rivera, she/they

Interim Chief Program Officer

Tech Goes Home

Ivanna Solano, she/her

Executive Director

Love Your Magic

Stephanie Taylor, she/her


Board of Directors TRUE Diversity Inc.

HIP/SNAP Community Engagement Coordinator

Coastal Foodshed

Zahirah Truth, she/her

Lead Program Officer

Building Audacity

Darlene Vu, she/her

Chief Operating Officer

Asian American Women's Political Initiative (AAWPI)

Alicia Whittington, she/her

Research Scientist

Assistant Director of Engagement & Health Equity Research

Football Players Health Study at Harvard University

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