North End Community Improvement Collaborative, Inc. (NECIC) has announced the founding of the African American Leadership Initiative (AALI). AALI’s mission is to identify and cultivate African American leaders in Mansfield and Richland County.
“We hope to accomplish two things with AALI,” said NECIC Executive Director Deanna West-Torrence. “One is to create a support network within the African American community itself that is going to help people move forward economically, educationally, and within the community. The other is to connect the African American community to other initiatives that may help them go further, whether it’s in entrepreneurship, education, employment, training, or the like. We’ve always seen ourselves as a convener. We take that role seriously in this endeavor as well, organizing the assets, convening them, and developing new leadership so it gets to the core of what we are about.”
West-Torrence said the initiative is funded by the Richland County Foundation.
NECIC Executive Coordinator Leona Smith explained there are three facets to AALI, including a monthly social gathering for networking, a monthly speaker for professional development, and AALI Journey, a leadership development cohort.
“There has not been significant African American participation in the other networking events in the area. That’s for a number of reasons,” said Smith. “Mostly, it’s comfort. With AALI Social, people can catch up with old friends, meet new people, and make each other aware of relevant opportunities. It’s also a safe place for African Americans to discuss their experiences and problem solve.” The first AALI Social event will be held this month on January 25.
AALI Speaks will be a monthly professional development luncheon featuring a variety of speakers. “We will offer dynamic African American speakers to serve as a model to others in the community, to share their success, their stories, and to inspire attendees,” said Smith. “It’s also a way to showcase those African Americans that have been successful in their own right, and to share their valid experiences.” The first AALI Speaks event will be held February 11.
Tickets for both events can be purchased online or you can become a member and enjoy these and future AALI events free of charge at necic-ohio.org.
Smith explained the AALI Journey portion of the initiative, “The AALI Journey is meant to be an experience for current and potential African American leaders to really dive into what it means to be a leader.”
There is an application process for the AALI Journey, said Smith, and the program is three modules focusing on aspects of leadership and leadership development.
More information is available at https://bit.ly/2ADh5J9. Those interested may also contact Leona Smith at Leona@necic-ohio.org or 419-522-1611, extension 114.