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Oishei Foundation opens applications for Karen Lee Spaulding Oishei Fellowship for Leaders of Color


Fri, Jul 1st 2022 01:30 pm

Rigorous leadership training program for nonprofit leaders of color held in partnership with Rockwood Leadership Institute

Applications are open for participation in the Karen Lee Spaulding Oishei Fellowship for Leaders of Color, hosted by The John R. Oishei Foundation in partnership with the Oakland, California-based Rockwood Leadership Institute. The fellowship, begun in 2019, will welcome its fourth cohort in October after a comprehensive vetting process for applicants this summer.

Expected to be hosted in person for the first time since its first cohort in 2019, the fellowship program will take place at Beaver Hollow Event and Conference Center on Oct. 24-28 for 24 chosen nonprofit leaders of color. Participants will experience Rockwood Leadership Institute’s Art of Leadership program over the course of five days.

A press release said, “The fellowship was recently renamed in honor of Karen Lee Spaulding, who retired in 2021 as vice president of philanthropic support, as a tribute to her work in conceiving, designing and managing of the fellowship on behalf of the Oishei Foundation. The program was developed in response to a need for leadership development in the nonprofit sector in Western New York, particularly for people of color, and is part of the foundation’s commitment to advancing racial equity.

“The application process is expected to be competitive, as it has been for each previous cohort. Self-identified nonprofit professionals of color across a spectrum of professional experience and life are invited to apply immediately up to the July 28 deadline. Past applicants who were not accepted are encouraged to reapply. Twenty-four fellows will be chosen and will participate at no cost. The program is supported in full by The John R. Oishei Foundation.

“The training, characterized by current fellows as ‘transformational’ and ‘life-changing,’ teaches critical personal and organizational leadership skills, including visioning, listening, speaking, presentation, coaching, collaboration, and feedback necessary for successful, sustainable and humane leadership. If a resurgence of COVID-19 necessitates a move to a virtual program, the Rockwood Institute is fully prepared as it has offered the last two cohorts a virtual experience with the same high standards of excellence and an online curriculum that is rich and rigorous.”

According to Mark J. Scott, Ph.D., vice president of philanthropic support at the Oishei Foundation, “Now more than ever, after the tragic and racist event our community experienced, in addition to two difficult years managing COVID-19, nonprofit professionals of color need a framework for personal and professional leadership development. More than just professional training, the Rockwood program offers participants a chance to develop personally, find their voice, and develop new strategies to address the many needs that accompany BIPOC leadership. And, as we have seen with past cohorts, the fellowship offers a wonderful opportunity for communities of color to build a strong network for future collaboration and support.”

Fellows will be chosen through an application process, vetted solely by Rockwood Leadership Institute, which will identify individuals who:

√ Demonstrate readiness to learn new leadership skills;

√ Are interested in participating in a rigorous learning experience to explore personal vision, increase sustainability, and build relationships with other nonprofit leaders of color;

√ Demonstrate a commitment to improving the wellbeing of all people in the Buffalo Niagara region; and

√ Represent a diversity of racial/ethnic communities and a cross-section of nonprofit professional backgrounds, experiences and sectors within the foundation’s focus areas.

In addition to the five-day retreat, fellows will also participate in a 360-degree leadership assessment, receive a comprehensive workbook filled with tools and processes to use with their own organizations, and will connect with a deep network not only with current Oishei Fellows, but also within the international and national network of Rockwood’s 8,000-plus members.

As follow-up to the five-day training, personal learning days for professional development and informal gatherings are planned to support the growing community of Oishei Fellows.

The application process opened June 27 and extends until July 28. Applicants will be notified by mid-August of their acceptance or not. The application can be accessed here. For more information, contact Fellowship Program Director Lisa Olszak Zumstein at [email protected] or 724-679-9261.

The John R. Oishei Foundation is the most comprehensive private foundation in Western New York focusing on a broad range of interrelated issues and offering philanthropic support that goes far beyond funding. Our mission is to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life for the Buffalo Niagara region through grantmaking, leadership and network building. The Foundation was established in 1940 by John R. Oishei, founder of Trico Products Corp.

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