The Board’s Role in Racial Equity

***Applications due Monday, March 15.***

Many organizations have been digging into racial equity work in the past few months and years. And many are feeling stuck. How do we make progress in this area? What is the board’s role in racial equity work? What is the Executive Director’s role as a partner and engine for change?

The board and executive director/CEO play important parts in creating any large-scale change within an organization. Equity work often comes with additional challenges—the issues are personal, the topics are charged, and the path forward is not always clear. To do this work effectively, leaders need to double-down on leadership—self-awareness, open communication, transparent decision-making, and meaningful commitments. They also need a strategic approach and a concrete action plan. CNE is excited to partner with, Vernetta Walker, senior advisor on diversity, inclusion, and equity (DI&E) at BoardSource, to support leadership teams in this work. Participants will build skills for engaging in difficult conversations and draft an organizational action plan.


While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, we can identify consistency in steps you need to take—both where to start and things you can’t leave out. Sessions will cover:

  • Contextualizing racial equity work in our current environment
  • Making the case and securing buy-in
  • Creating shared language across the organization
  • Assessing board and organizational culture
  • Valuing the importance of data to measure gaps in equity, set goals, and measure progress
  • Moving beyond the board to get input (staff, community partners)
  • Understanding the role and value of a neutral third party
  • Normalizing difficult conversations


  • Four 90-minute workshops
  • An assessment will be distributed prior to the first session
  • Specific readings and tasks/goals to complete between meetings
  • One special session just for board members and another just for executive directors|CEOs
  • One coaching session for each organization to assist with action planning

Dates and Times

  • Four 90-minute sessions from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. on:
    • Wednesday, April 21,
    • Wednesday, May 12,
    • Wednesday, June 2,
    • Wednesday, June 16;
  • One 1-hour affinity group session for board members and one 1-hour affinity group session for EDs on Wednesday, May 19;
  • One 1-hour coaching session for each participating organization to assist with action planning, scheduled on some combination of the following dates:
    • Wednesday, May, 26,
    • Wednesday, June, 2,
    • Wednesday, June, 9.

Note: Homework assignments can usually be completed in an hour. However, participants may want to hold additional conversations with their colleagues to help advance the work or read additional resources the trainer shares.

Participation fees

CNE Member: $1,000, per organization (up to three team members)

Non-member: $1,600*, per organization (up to three team members)

*This rate reflects the true cost of this program, including trainer fees and staff time. CNE member discounts are subsidized through CNE’s philanthropic and earned revenue.


We encourage teams of up to three members to apply to participate. Priority will be given to teams with decision-making authority within their organization, i.e. Executive Director/CEO, Board Chair (or other board members), and/or Chief Diversity Officer (or similar).

To ensure a high-quality experience for all, we will limit this initial offering to 10 organizations. Participant organizations will be selected on their level of preparedness for taking on and commitment to carrying out this work. This opportunity is open to any nonprofit organization operating in the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, priority will be given to CNE member organizations.

***Applications due Monday, March 15.***

Topic Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
When Monday, March 15, 2021 -
Where Online
Trainer Vernetta Walker, J.D.
Member Fee $1,000.00
Non-Member Fee $1,600.00