Ep 174: Creating a Board That Reflects the Needs of Your Community (with Whitley Richards)

by Joan Garry

In this episode, we discuss a critical topic for every nonprofit that wants to effectively serve their community: board composition.


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Today’s topic is critical for every nonprofit that wants to effectively serve their community: board composition.

What exactly does it mean for a board to reflect the communities they serve? And how can organizations make this a reality? In today’s episode let’s unpack why having a nonprofit board composition that is diverse and representative is a HUGE non-negotiable for every nonprofit out there.

Joining me for this deep dive is Whitley Richards, Chief Program Officer of Cause Strategy Partners, a social enterprise that specializes in nonprofit board matching and training. With nearly two thousand board placements under her belt and a focus on board diversity, equity, and inclusion, Whitley is the perfect expert to help us dive into the critical topic of board composition.

Tune in as we cover everything from why it’s so important for nonprofits to have boards that truly reflect the communities they serve to the challenges of recruitment and creating a sense of belonging. Whitley shares some actionable steps that you can take to help your organization build a stronger, more diverse board.

So, get ready to grab a pen and paper, because you won’t want to miss a minute of this conversation. Let’s get started!

Click play to learn:

  • Why is having a board composition that reflects the community you serve so important? (10:15)
  • How can committees work to ensure effective board diversity and representation? (12:43)
  • What challenges stand in the way of nonprofit leaders looking to improve their board’s composition? (18:12)
  • How can organizations start building boards that reflect the communities they serve? Any do’s and don’ts? (26:42)
  • How does the expectation of a board member to give or get resources impact this work? (34:55)
  • Why is centering values so essential to nonprofit work? (41:26)
  • Should you ask board members about their values while recruiting? (47:17)


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About Whitley Richards

Whitley Richards is the Chief Program Officer of Cause Strategy Partners, a social enterprise specializing in nonprofit board matching and training. She oversees all existing nonprofit board placement and training services globally and leads the development of new programs. Whitley has offered strategic counsel and advice to scores of nonprofits and individuals around the country including facilitating the placement of nearly 2,000 professionals onto nonprofit governing boards. She has provided consulting services to a number of Fortune 500 companies and professional services firms and led engagements placing C-suite and senior executives on Boards of Directors. Whitley has designed, built, and led an initiative focused on strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion in nonprofit governance and among nonprofit staff teams. Whitley’s passion for connecting individuals to their purpose was inspired by her work in education where she began her career as an administrator and English as a Foreign Language teacher. She has spent her career at the intersection of the public and private sectors, committed to fostering effective, equitable, and inclusive leadership.

Whitley loves cooking, baking, and anything else that brings the people in her life together. She is proud of her Trinidadian heritage.

Whitley completed her M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Management from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University in 2018. During her time at Wagner, she focused on Public and Nonprofit Management with a concentration on International Policy and Management. Whitley earned a B.A. in Global Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Contact Whitley Richards