Friday, December 1, 2023

Minority Executive Leadership Program Provides Professional Development, Mentorships

Since 1973, Greater Toledo Community Foundation (GTCF) has provided northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan communities with financial support in the areas of social service, the arts, education, neighborhood and urban affairs, natural resources and physical and mental health. 

An extension of GTCF, The Center for Nonprofit Resources (C4NPR) acts as a resource for local nonprofit agencies. With ever-changing needs and requirements, “the mission of C4NPR is to ensure nonprofit organizations in our area have the information and resources required to operate in an efficient and effective manner.” The Foundation achieves its objectives through professional development, technical assistance, on-demand resources and engagement initiatives – one of which being the Minority Executive Leadership Program.

A Professional Program for Nonprofit Success

Minority Executive Leadership Program (MEL), sponsored in part by the Andersons, is a series of high-quality professional development courses and mentorships with community leaders that focuses on empowering future minority leaders.

The program engages participants in a combination of online courses and in-person events. Online courses cover four general topics: 

  1. Leadership in a nonprofit organization.
  2. Nonprofit board and volunteer development
  3. Fundraising for nonprofit organizations
  4. How to read financial statements for a nonprofit

In addition to the online courses, participants engage in a series of summits and cohort meetings to discuss lessons learned and to share real-world examples of challenges they face in their nonprofits, along with working one-on-one with a leadership mentor. 

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“Each of the 73 graduates [are] connected with a mentor during the program,” Patrick Johnston, Vice President of Community Investments at GTCF, said. “These mentorships further expand the reach of the Minority Executive Leadership Program and also provide sustainability for the learners, as most relationships continue after the program concludes.”

Real-World Impact

MEL’s graduates are thriving in their current roles. 

“Many graduates advance within their own organizations,” Johnston said. “Some transition to the for-profit world and help educate new colleagues on the opportunities and challenges of nonprofit work.”

Dr. Marvin Whitfield, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Ohio, finished the program with the class of 2020 and continues to serve as a leadership mentor. Whitfield explains, “The program assisted in expanding my leadership capabilities. I have led teams in the public and private sectors but attended the program to become more proficient in the nonprofit sector. I believe in the program’s value so much that I became a mentor for other participants.”

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Taylor Burciaga, Executive Director of Sofia Quintero Art & Cultural Center, completed MEL in 2019. “MEL allowed me to hear and learn from others doing community work,” Burciaga said. “It was great to hear different approaches as we work through obstacles or projects. We don’t always need to reinvent the wheel.”

Applications for the program are accepted through September of each year. 

Contact MEL Program Director Milva Valenzuela Wagner at 419-241-9513 or

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