Nonprofit Board Inclusion Training Series

The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region is excited to release the Nonprofit Board Inclusion Series RoadMap, version 1.0. After the completion of the training series, the Steering Committee created this RoadMap to support nonprofit boards at any stage of the DEI journey. This document is intended to meet organizations where they are in their learning journey and will be updated as we grow together.

The Community Foundation encourages nonprofit leaders to download and review the RoadMap to see how it can support your work in building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization.

Research shows that governance is enhanced, community connection and responsiveness increased, and the mission of the organization is strengthened when organizations invest in diversity, equity and inclusion.

We invite you to share your ideas and edits as we work together to build an equitable community.

Click here to view and download the RoadMap.


Based on a recommendation from our report Nonprofit Board Diversity: A Snapshot of the Capital Region, the Community Foundation partnered with Angela Dixon, Senior Vice President/Chief Diversity Officer of Berkshire Bank to design and deliver a training series on ways to create a welcoming board culture inclusive of traditionally underrepresented communities.

The Community Foundation is pleased to share resources from the training sessions.

Session I: Building a Foundation of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Recording available below.

In the past year, the need and interest to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion has significantly increased, especially on nonprofit boards. A common question leaders ask is “we care about this issue, but where do we start?” In this session, the Community Foundation and Angela Dixon of Berkshire Bank will be joined by Kathleen McLean of the McLean Group to inform and create strategies on how to begin the DEI journey at your organization.

During this session, participants will:

  • Learn the historical context of systemic oppression in the United States and better understand the need for change
  • Review the common language of diversity, equity, and inclusion terminology
  • Identify ways to build a case for DEI and prepare a change management strategy

Click here to download a copy of the presentation slides.

About the Presenter:
Kathleen McLean, MBA, CSW is president and CEO of the McLean Group. Her 25 years of experience encompasses work in higher education, NYS government, non-profits, as well as public and private schools. The McLean Group’s strategic approach utilizes the 3E framework. Educate – using our resources customized for the organization. Explore – the Intercultural Effectiveness Scale that measures how comfortable individuals are around differences. Empower – your organization to use new tools to transform the culture and challenge the status quo. Kathleen has been an educator at the College of Saint Rose, Hudson Valley Community College, Schenectady County Community College, The Sage Colleges, and SUNY Empire State College as an online instructor for undergraduate and graduate programs.

Kathleen has been recognized with the Harriet Rifkin Leadership Award, Adult Achievers Award, and most recently by the “Albany Business Review” Women Who Mean Business Award. Kathleen received her Master Degree in Social Work (management concentration) from the University at Albany, a Master in Business Administration from the SUNY Empire State College and her bachelor’s degree in social work from Buffalo State College.

The McLean Group is a New York State Minority and Women-Owned certified firm. Kathleen volunteers with Mission Accomplished, has served on the SUNY Schenectady Foundation Board, co-leads the Capital Region Women of Color Network, serves on the Town of Colonie Police Practices Review Committee, and is the chair of Fundraising for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Kathleen has been married to her high school sweetheart for 29 years, and they have four children. Her motto is: I’m here to live, love, and lead out loud. Learn more and connect with Kathleen via her website: 


Session II: Building a Culture of Inclusivity and Impact

Click here for a summary of the session.


Amidst increased activism and greater pressure from funders and state legislation, there has been a growing push for corporate and nonprofit leaders to increase board diversity, build more inclusive cultures and drive equitable outcomes.  Yet in the current climate, you may not know where to begin in creating brave spaces that enable more effective cross-cultural communications.  This workshop will equip you with strategies to shift from awkward silence to dynamic dialogues and create a catalyst for sustainable change.  Participants will leave the session with increased knowledge and skills to:

  • Learn the concept of implicit bias and ways to mitigate its impact on your organization to optimize leadership development
  • Determine actionable next steps for creating more inclusive cultures that promote individual and organizational flourishing
  • Understand how to navigate difficult conversations and apply effective communication strategies for engaging diverse communities
  • Establish the board’s role as an agent of change to strengthen nonprofit leadership, maximize impact and increase giving

In order to encourage a brave space for participants, this session was NOT recorded. Please click here for a summary of the workshop.


About the Facilitators:


Anniedi Essien is a Chief Swagger Officer, Health Disruptor and Keynote Speaker dedicated to improving the well-being of individuals, organizations and communities. With twenty years of health industry experience, workforce well-being expertise and a people first mindset, Anniedi reimagines the future of health, creates inclusive spaces for holistic wellness, and advises senior leaders as a former corporate health executive. She has developed innovative corporate wellness solutions for the largest global brands, including Walmart.  Her work on social determinants of health has been recognized by the American Association for World Health / World Health Organization.  Anniedi is the CEO and Founder of Idem Spark, where she advises C-Suite executives, entrepreneurs and women in leadership on how to build the workforce of the future by fusing cutting edge well-being and leadership development strategies for success.  Anniedi holds a BA in biomedical ethics from Brown University and an MBA in strategy from NYU Stern School of Business.  She is a foodie, yoga lover and karaoke enthusiast.




Christina Farinacci-Roberts is a learning architect, diversity & inclusion strategist and 20 year veteran educator who is passionate about driving equity and excellence for all.  As the founder and chief consultant of Head Heart Hands Consulting, she advises senior executive clients to create equitable systems and inclusive structures for diverse stakeholders to experience greater individual and organizational flourishing. Using her experience as a NYC high school principal, she creates interactive and immersive learning experiences that supports leaders to remove barriers and shape cultures that drive substantive change and fuel sustainable growth. Christina was recently selected as the Key Bank Boost & Build MWBE “Pitch Your Pivot” grand prize winner for her successful transition into the corporate DEI space. Christina is also the matriarch of a blended family who strives to model to her two children the unrelenting work ethic and audacious ambitions her Korean Tiger mom and Italian American veteran dad instilled. She maintains her sanity with yoga, CrossFit and frequent karaoke sessions.



About W.I.D.E. Dynamic Dialogues
Facing a global pandemic, economic downturn, and ongoing social justice issues, organizations require more relevant solutions that create brave spaces and grow bold leaders.  W.I.D.E. Dynamic Dialogues is a joint venture between Head Heart Hands Consulting LLC and Idem Spark, LLC with an innovative framework that is more responsive to the emerging needs of a diverse workforce.  Our holistic and human-centered approach to leadership development, executive coaching, workshops and training offers a cutting edge solution for individual and organizational flourishing.  We believe Equity can only be achieved when Diversity is present, Inclusion is prioritized, and Wellness is realized. To learn more, visit

Session III: Taking Action

Recording available below.

Based on feedback from local nonprofits, the most difficult part of the journey to advance equity is moving from learning to action. In the first two workshops, we learned how to build a case for DEI and strategies to create inclusive cultures. This session will explore how systemic oppression shows up on nonprofit boards and discover strategies to advance our goals.

The workshop will begin with a two-hour training by Lyndon Cudlitz of Lyndon Cudlitz: Consulting, Educating and Training diving into these issues and how you can move to action. The training will be followed by a panel with local nonprofit board leaders sharing their experiences serving on boards and providing strategies to advance inclusion.

During this workshop, participants will learn the following:

  • Understand how systemic oppression shows up in nonprofit boards and ways to distribute power among all members
  • Learn strategies to engage and embrace individuals from underrepresented communities
  • Create realistic and impactful goals
  • Identify tangible steps to increase diversity and build inclusion on your board

Trainer: Lyndon Cudlitz

With 20 years in LGBTQ services and social justice education, Lyndon Cudlitz provides customized training and technical assistance for nonprofits, businesses, schools, and healthcare providers. Lyndon first served on a nonprofit board as an 18-year-old, volunteers with, and is the former Board VP of a NYC-based rock-climbing organization and holds additional experience working in the nonprofit sector across a breadth of social service fields. To learn more about Lyndon please visit his website:





Moderator: Angela Dixon

Angela Dixon serves as the Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer for Berkshire Bank.  In this role she is responsible for driving the Company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy in collaboration with executive management and each of Berkshire’s business lines.  Angela has more than 30 years of executive experience working with public and private sector organizations on a range of workforce and strategic management issues including strategic planning, leadership development and DEI.

In 2019, Angela established Dixon Consulting II, LLC, a management consulting firm, focused on DEI and Talent Management. Dixon Consulting assists organizations in creating and cultivating DEI initiatives that align with business strategy, expand opportunities for diverse communities and produce sustainable, measurable impact.  Ms. Dixon is a sought-after facilitator and collaborator on issues such as nonprofit leadership and board diversity as well as on issues impacting women of color and minority business development.

Prior to starting her consulting firm, Angela served as Vice President for Talent & Inclusion with the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce from 2018-2019 and Deputy Comptroller for Human Resources and Administration for the New York State Comptroller’s Office from 2008-2018, in Albany, New York.

Angela has a BA in Political Science and MBA through the University at Albany, Albany, New York. She is also a Senior Certified Human Resources Professional through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM-SCP). In 2018, she was named to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s inaugural Business Leads Fellowship Program – an initiative designed to strengthen the role of business leaders in education and workforce development.



Dorcey L. Applyrs, DrPH, MPH

The Hon. Dr. Dorcey Applyrs has built a personal and professional life in the City of Albany devoted to improving the quality of life for residents. Dr. Applyrs currently serves as Albany’s Chief City Auditor. After being appointed to this position January 1, 2020, she was elected to serve in this capacity in the historic 2020 election.  Prior to serving as Chief City Auditor, Applyrs served on the Albany Common Council representing the City’s First Ward. She was elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017. During her second term, she served as Chair of the Public Safety Committee.

Dr. Applyrs moved to Albany in 2003 to pursue graduate-level education and since has earned a master’s degree and doctorate in public health from the University at Albany School of Public Health. Dr. Applyrs is highly engaged with the Albany community. She served as Vice President for Community Health Initiatives with the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region where she currently serves as a board member. She also serves on the board for Eleanor’s Legacy, The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY, Center for Women in Government and Civil Society, the Capital District New Leaders Council, Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, and Park Playhouse.

Applyrs resides in Albany with her loving and supportive husband Don-Lee and beautiful daughter Noble.


Marcia Cognetta

Marcia leads the Office of Corporate Engagement for Goldman Sachs Ayco Personal Financial Management and is responsible for the development and execution of Ayco’s corporate giving, philanthropic and community partnership strategies.

Previously, Marcia spent 10 years leading staffing, operations, and people development for Ayco Private Wealth Management. Prior to that, she held a variety of roles within Human Capital Management, focusing on benefits administration, employee relations and recruiting.

Marcia joined the firm in 1999 in the National Tax Group and was promoted to Vice President in 2018. She is the President of the Ayco Toastmasters Club and serves on the Board of Directors for two organizations: United Way of the Greater Capital Region and the SUNY Plattsburgh Alumni Association.

Marcia earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.



Alfredo Medina, Jr., Ph.D.

Alfredo Medina, Jr., Ph.D., is a proven thought and strategic leader with 20 plus years of experience in higher education. He is a Critical Race Theory scholar, diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioner, qualitative researcher, and storyteller. Dr. Medina has extensive knowledge and experience in areas of community engagement, diversity, equity, and inclusion, strategic planning, coalition building, nonprofit management, and fundraising.  Due to his extensive experience and scholarship in the area of DEI, Dr. Medina was recently appointed Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and College Diversity Officer at Bennington College in Vermont.  In this new role, he will work closely with the Bennington community to create a vision and strategic direction towards becoming an antiracist and equitable institution rooted in the liberal arts.  Previously, Dr. Medina was Executive Director of the Office for Public Engagement and Associate Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University at Albany.

Before joining higher education, Dr. Medina began his professional career in the nonprofit sector as a case manager, community advocate, and executive, primarily working in and with communities of color.  Dr. Medina has been recognized for spearheading numerous community engagement and coalition-building initiatives, strengthening higher education access, building partnerships, and for his contributions to the Latinx community.  Dr. Medina is currently on the board of directors for Living Resources, Inc. Foundation, Tech Valley High School Foundation, and the United Way of the Greater Capital Region. He is a member of the Community Engagement Committee for the Albany Institute of History and Art, and serves as a youth development board member for the YMCA Black and Latino Achievers Program.

Dr. Medina earned his doctorate in Educational Policy and Leadership from the University at Albany.  He holds dual Master of Science Degrees from the University at Albany in Educational Psychology and Statistics and Educational Administration and Policy Studies. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Utica College of Syracuse University and is a graduate of the prestigious Management Development Program from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.  As a Critical Race Scholar, Dr. Medina’s scholarship focuses on centering Blackness within Latinx identity and the impact of negotiating ethnoracial identity, particularly AfroLatinx collegians, and their intentions to persist in college.


If you have any questions about the program, please email