Connecting People to Opportunities Across America: CEO Circle


Groundbreaking CEO Circle for Management Excellence

Ep. 78 - Join In a lively discussion among five leaders of the CEO Circle regarding managing nonprofits for excellence and connecting people to opportunities across America. this episode, we feature members of the CEO Circle who are the CEOs of community development and justice organizations. They are leaders in their fields working to create new ways for communities to enrich where people live and connect them to the opportunities they need. Listen in to learn how to leverage your experience as a leader of color in community development to better serve communities of color.

Key Takeaways:

  • The importance of strengthening and realigning communities of color to bounce back after the COVID-19 crisis
  • How to leverage your personal experiences as resources as a CEO of color
  • How to find better recruitment methods to help with diversity in the housing and community development sector
  • How to economically grow America by changing our systems to create racial equity and inclusion

In this episode you’ll discover:

Akilah and Lisa explain the importance of the CEO Circle formation [4:00]

How to surround yourself with confidants and allies and maintaining connections as a CEO [8:41]

Tips on how to lead with progress as a CEO of color in the community development sector [11:37]

The importance of doing your CEO job in every aspect of your life while having support [17:48]

Understanding how CEOs of color are shifting paradigms and catalyzing change [22:50]

The steps that need to be taken to attract and retain more leaders of color into the field [26:25]

How the CEO Circle is building leadership and training opportunities for emerging leaders [32:22]

Why we need to normalize and take action steps towards racial equity in communities [34:44]

They explain the work they’re doing as CEO Circle to achieve racial equity and inclusion [41:18]

How to eliminate the four-year degree bias that’s mostly negatively affecting people of color [57:12]


The CEO Circle was formed for leaders to find ways to collaborate instead of competing, take up the charge of serving as a leader of color during this national moment of racial consciousness, and identify strategies for future impact. In February, six of the nation’s leading nonprofit community development organizations came together to share their visions and actions for mutual support, scalable impact, and a resilient future for organizations, families being served, and communities, all striving to assist in achieving racial equity and socioeconomic justice. The ‘CEO Circle of Color’ discussed the importance of recruiting and ascending people of color into decision-making leaders and sharing individual and collective aspirations for 2021 and beyond.


Marietta Rodriguez is the President of NeighborWorks America, a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives, and strengthen their communities through its network of 240 organizations.

It’s important to surround yourself with different kinds of people. There is a difference between allies and confidants. As a CEO, you have to know the difference." 


Tony Pickett is CEO of Grounded Solutions Network, a national nonprofit membership organization of community land trust, municipal housing programs, and nonprofits that support housing with lasting affordability.

"You don’t have to settle for feeling isolated. Intentionally making the time to engage, listen and learn from peer leaders in a network is important as a new CEO." - Tony Pickett


Lisa Rice is the President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. NFHA works to eliminate housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunities for all people.

"If we want to see racial equity in any area, we have to focus on systems change and empowering consumers and communities." - Lisa Rice


Akilah Watkins is the President and CEO of the Centre for Community Progress. An organization that works to grow strong equitable communities where vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties are transformed into assets for neighbors and neighborhoods.

"We cannot do more with less. We are not magicians, we need funding and we need funding at the appropriate levels to do the amazing work that we do." - Akilah Watkins


Maurice Jones is the CEO of OneTen, a coalition of leading chief executives and their companies who are coming together to upskill, hire, and promote one million black Americans over the next 10 years.

"Having a support network that people of color can turn to for advice, support, and collaboration is one way we can attract them to the field as leaders." - Maurice Jones

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