40 LeadBoston participants conclude the year and commit to inclusion


On October 16, 2019, the LeadBoston Class of 2019 gathered for their final program day to present on their Leadership Commitments and prepare to join the LeadBoston alumni community. The class, comprised of 40 Boston-area professionals, has gathered monthly for a full day since January. Together, they strengthened their ability to advance equity and inclusion in their organizations, communities, and city. For the final program day, the group met at Holland & Knight. During their full day, the class discussed how to incorporate inclusion into their management styles, becoming a LeadBoston alumni, and their commitments to fostering change in their workplaces and communities.

Welcoming the LeadBoston Community

The LeadBoston Class of 2019 were joined by over 30 invited guests, including former program speakers, current participant employers, and alumni from over 15 different class years. As Kathryn Henderson, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, explains, “Though the class is ending, their connection with LeadBoston is just beginning. Inviting alums to the breakfast helps serve as a bridge to the larger community. We were inspired to invite employers a few years ago. Participants kept telling us about how they would return to work after a program day and talk about their experiences. We thought employers might be curious to see LeadBoston for themselves. And, as participants work to advance inclusion in their organizations, it’s critical that employers are aligned.” The day began with networking as classmates met LeadBoston alumni and each other’s’ employers, and they began to utilize the strength of the LeadBoston community. As people socialized, the ‘LeadBoston 2019 Slaylist’, the class’s shared music playlist, played in the background.

The program began with a welcome from Georganne Mofford, Office Manager at Holland & Knight and YW Boston supporter. Her welcome lead into the morning’s panel, entitled “Incorporating inclusive practices and attitudes into management styles” was comprised of:

  • Tyra Anderson-Montina, Senior Director of Program, Year Up and LeadBoston Class of 2011
  • Tania Del Rio, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement
  • Kim Dukes, Diversity and Inclusion Talent Specialist, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and LeadBoston Class of 2012
  • Bob Rivers, CEO, Eastern Bank

The four experts spoke about practices that foster an inclusive workplace. In particular, they spoke about how one’s personal identities shape how they listen to, speak with, and lead others. During the question and answer portion, the class was most interested in learning how to address LGBTQ inclusion and how strategies may vary for organizations of different sizes.

Following the panel, the guests left for the day. Jorge Dias, LeadBoston Class of 2017, officially welcomed the class to the LeadBoston alumni community. He spoke about his journey before, during, and after LeadBoston, and then identified ways the class can get involved with YW Boston as alumni.

Supporting One Another in This Work

Connection, community, and supporting one another were major themes that ran throughout the final program day. During Jorge’s address to the class, he spoke about how it took him years to apply for LeadBoston. He did not believe he would be able to meaningfully contribute to the group. He had been active in the community he grew up in for years, supporting black and brown boys, but believed that his history of leadership and role with the Boston Police Department would not align with the other leadership styles in LeadBoston. However, a nomination to the program from former Commissioner Evans changed his mind. He spoke about how connected he has felt to the LeadBoston community since deciding to join. Jorge has formed strong partnerships and increased the impact of the community work he’s been doing for years. Following his speech to the class, he stayed for an extra hour and spoke with individual participants one-on-one.

Following Jorge’s time with the class, the participants discussed their growth through the LeadBoston program. Many people spoke about joining the class with the intention of growing professionally, and how they were surprised and grateful for how it also encouraged them to re-examine their roles as individuals and leaders. It was clear how much community had formed since the group first met one another in January. Class members shared the challenges they are facing, professionally and personally, and how LeadBoston has impacted how they want to grow as inclusive leaders. Throughout the discussion, the class spoke to how important it is to have a community, such as LeadBoston, to support them as they grow and take action.

Committing to an Inclusive Future

The LeadBoston year culminates with each participant presenting on their Leadership Commitment. Leadership Commitments are an opportunity for each person to put what they’ve learned in LeadBoston to use by creating a plan, aided by the class and staff, to address equity and inclusion in their workplaces or communities. After lunch, everyone presented for a few minutes on their commitment, how they will measure success, who they will partner with, and how YW Boston can support their efforts.

The participants’ Leadership Commitments were categorized into four main action areas:

  • Supporting youth
  • Advancing inclusion in the workplace
  • Community engagement
  • Leveraging the alumni community

With everyone presenting on their action plans, there were a wide variety of ways the class will be impacting equity in Boston. Their commitments ranged from engaging youth in financial literacy to implementing a mental health awareness program at work, and from providing pro-bono legal aid to leading a year-long social media campaign highlighting the beauty and diversity of “Black Joy” in Boston. Throughout their presentations, classmates jumped in to offer support to each other’s plans. As LeadBoston Associate, Rachel Brewer, stated, a number of people “mentioned feeling ‘impostor syndrome’ early in the year,” in regards to advancing equity, “so it was so exciting to see them talk firmly about their Leadership Commitments and how they want to share their learning with others.”

Do you wish to work with a community of leaders committed to equity in Boston?

Applications for the LeadBoston Class of 2020 are open until November 8 – click here to learn more about the program, apply to join, or refer a peer to our next cohort. 


About LeadBoston

Become a part of YW Boston’s LeadBoston program and join a network of over 1,000 inclusive leaders in Boston. During this 10-month program, participants explore and learn how to address barriers to inclusion through facilitated dialogue, expert speakers, and peer learning. Through experiential activities, participants delve into the socioeconomic realities of Boston and explore innovative solutions to inequity.