Understanding the Impact of Identity for Nonprofit Leaders (Nneka Allen)

January 2022

We are all responsible for the environments we create.  And they should all be equitable. Nonprofit leaders clearly understand the impact of identity on an organizational culture and equity outcomes.  In episode #142 of Your Path to Nonprofit LeadershipNneka Allen, a descendant of the Underground Railroad, shares her remarkable story which began years ago with her freedom-seeking ancestors and ultimately set her on the path of community movements, social change and a desire to pursue justice. Now, after more than two decades as a fundraising professional in the nonprofit sector - a predominantly white field - Nneka embraced the powerful and tragic nature of her ancestors and founded The Empathy Agency.  As someone who understands better than most the power of storytelling, she demonstrates how intentional communication of mission and vision will deepen the connection with donors.  She also identifies three fundamental traits true leaders with a passion for change embody.  As a nonprofit leader you'll learn how to deliver more fairly on your mission through a better understanding of a dominant cultures' impact on the organizational culture. Patton and Nneka discuss how leadership teams can take purposeful steps to implement racial equity throughout the entire organization.  And finally, they discuss Collecting Courage: Joy, Pain, Freedom, Love, an anthology by 15 black nonprofit professionals and their experiences enduring racism in the philanthropic sector edited by Nneka, a powerful and enlightening must read for every leader regardless of where you are on your path.


"Want to be a successful nonprofit leader? Resist the status quo and get proximate to communities of color." 


Nneka Allen is a Black woman, a descendant of the Underground Railroad, an Ojibwa of Anderson Nation and a sixth generation Canadian. Born in the 70's, Nneka was raised during a time of Black power and acute political awareness. As a lover of justice, Nneka has inspired philanthropy as a fundraising executive for over 20 years. She is the principal and founder of The Empathy Agency, where she helps organizations deliver more fairly on their missions and visions by coaching teams to explore the impact identity has on culture and equity outcomes. Nneka is the founder of the Black Canadian Fundraisers' Collective. She is also an author and joint editor of a book featuring the first-person narratives of 15 Black contributors, mainly fundraisers from the US and Canada called Collecting Courage: Joy, Pain, Freedom, Love. Nneka's ultimate joy is her daughter Destiny who along with her husband Skylar, are continuing their family legacy of philanthropic activism in Canada. 


About PMA Nonprofit Leadership 

As a firm, PMA Nonprofit Leadership is constantly developing content and programs to help you in three distinct ways.  The first way is to help you be a thought leader in the nonprofit sector by producing weekly content through our podcast Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership. The second way is through individual coaching, training and our unique Mastermind Nonprofit Leadership program. The third way is to help your nonprofit organization through support of its strategic planning, board & staff development, and fundraising. Through our exclusive partnership with the Institute for Philanthropic Leadership, we also  guide aspiring nonprofit leaders thought the virtual New Development Professionals cohort training program, as well as the annual Leadership Gift School, now entering its 10th cohort season.  Let us know how we can help you! Join our community by signing up for our free resources here, and schedule a call if you'd like to learn more about ways we can help you on your journey to nonprofit leadership.