Leading with Equity

The NNCG Institute for Philanthropy Consultants


Leading with Equity: The NNCG Institute for Philanthropy Consultants is for consultants and advisors who are committed to helping their grantmaking clients advance equity through philanthropy.

The inaugural cohort of the Institute completed its coursework in October 2023. In December, sixteen members of our first cohort earned a digital credential of completion for over 12 hours of instruction and peer-to-peer learning between April and October in 2023. Their work included at least 80% participation in seven virtual sessions led by top-notch philanthropy consultants and practitioners who work at the intersection of philanthropy, race equity, gender equity, and disability justice. 


Institute sessions are led by NNCG members and partners with a track record of helping philanthropy clients implement internal and external practices that accelerate social change and advance equitable outcomes. Faculty members for 2023 are listed below.

Athena Adkins

Athena Adkins is from BetterWorld Partners, a woman-led, BIPOC-led consulting firm dedicated to supporting organizations as they lean into how they are showing up–from storytelling and walking the walk of intercultural development to practicing authentic leadership. Throughout her 20+ year career in the non-profit and philanthropic sector, her effort to leverage her experience and expertise and align her personal values with mission-driven organizations has led her to engage in deep, meaningful work at the intersection of organizational development and capacity building—where those ideas intersect with authentic leadership, intercultural organizational development, healing from trauma, and emotional intelligence. Essentially, she is a champion of the idea that it is not just “what we do,” but also “how we do it.”

Shanize Byrd

A consultant with Frontline Solutions, Shanize Byrd is a values- and mission driven leader with extensive knowledge navigating political and educational landscapes. Throughout her career, she has worked with broad-based organizations and labor unions on high-stakes campaigns to secure funding for the public good—including for the largest labor union in the country. Her skills extend from advocacy and coaching to data review and analysis. As the founder of a Black women’s collaborative, she provides healing-centered programming and initiatives to dismantle White Supremacy culture, as a means to help Black women achieve liberation in their personal and professional lives.

Nadia Brigham

Nadia Brigham is principal of Brigham Consulting, LLC with over 20 years of experience advancing racial equity, leadership, and community engagement in philanthropy, youth-serving and grassroots organizations, particularly focused on racial equity, leadership development, and community engagement for education justice, health equity, and family economic security. She’s a strategist focused on moving leaders and organizations from awareness and knowledge acquisition to agency and action towards more equitable outcomes. Not secondarily, supporting leaders in examining and interrogating manifestations of internalized anti-Blackness and internalized superiority within themselves and creating pathways to healing are critical to her work.

Marcia Coné

For three decades, Marcia Coné has worked in partnership with foundations, nonprofits, and philanthropic service organizations and alongside grassroots and grass tops leaders to shift the paradigm to create cultures where intersectional equity is centered. She brings a depth and breadth of experience that fuels her passion for moving individuals, organizations, and systems away from conventional and conformist frameworks towards bold engagement and action.

Raymundo Garcia

Raymundo Garcia Jr. is an Associate Consultant at Frontline Solutions, a Black-owned and Black-led consulting firm that helps organizations plan, innovate, learn, and transform. His background consists of working across the social sector, from local to national nonprofits, grantmaking institutions, and impact consulting firms. He’s leveraged his skills as a strategic thinker, resource connector, and people activator to support organizations in elevating their assets and identifying new possibilities. Raymundo earned his bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Yolanda Johnson

Yolanda is a leader in fundraising, philanthropy and Inclusion, Equity and Diversity, and has developed training methods for boards and leadership groups in effective fundraising strategy and in racial and gender equity. Her work includes counseling philanthropists on where to direct their resources, and through her own YFJ Philanthropies, she personally gives back to causes supporting racial and gender equity, those with disabilities and the arts. A trailblazing figure on the nonprofit landscape, from 2019 - 2022, Yolanda was the first African American President in the history of Women In Development (WID), NY, one of the NY Metro Area’s premier professional fundraising organizations; she is the founder of Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy (WOC) and the founder of Allies in Action Membership Network, specializing in transformational anti-racism training and programming for the nonprofit sector.

Risa Jaz Rifkind

Risa is a justice advocate who seeks to make change by shifting access to power and influence. As the Director of Civic Engagement and Marketing for Disability Lead, she propels the organization to realize its vision to have people with disabilities lead with power and influence. Previously, Risa was Program Manager at The Chicago Community Trust where she developed their disability inclusion priorities and managed  disability inclusion initiatives including the Disabilities Fund, ADA 25 Advancing Leadership, and ADA 25 Chicago. With the Disabilities Fund, Risa supported a rebrand and strategic plan redesign that resulted in a 500% increase in annual grantmaking for which she acted as the program officer. Risa received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University.

Jeannie Infante Sager

Jeannie Infante Sager is the director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI), which is housed under the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jeannie leads WPI’s efforts to translate research to practice, works closely with WPI’s national advisory council and serves on the executive leadership team for the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She has been quoted in a wide array of media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Fortune Magazine. Jeannie earned her master's degree in philanthropic studies from Indiana University where she was a Jane Addams Fellow and earned a bachelor's degree in international relations from Rollins College.

Beca Velazquez-Publes

As a member of the Brigham Consulting Team, Beca Velazquez-Publes walks alongside and coaches organizations, private and public sector institutions, systems, and grassroots leaders on their diversity, racial equity and inclusion journeys. Her 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience in the fields of workforce development, healthcare, social justice and racial equity, provide her the expertise to strategically address systemic inequities in order to advance racial equity. Her life's calling is to be a thought partner and change agent in organizations as they transform their work by leading with a racial equity lens and reimagining their workplaces. She believes that by centering our humanity, we can transform the places we work into equitable ecosystems for change. Beca received her Master of Public Administration in Non-Profit Leadership from Grand Valley State University where she was awarded a King Chavez Parks Future Faculty Fellowship. She is a proud Fellow of the National Equity Project and Co-founder of the Latina Network of West Michigan.

2023 Sessions

Orientation and Networking with the Institute’s Participants

Nadia Brigham and Beca Velazquez-Publes, Brigham Consulting

Racial equity efforts and statements are often reactionary and emotional only, often lacking strategic integrity for the work. This session will explore the importance of understanding your “why” as foundational for powerful and effective racial equity efforts. Participants will leave the session with examples of how to support grantmaking institutions in getting to their “why” and considerations for racial equity strategies.

Key Concepts: Race Equity, Organizational Transformation

Athena Adkins, BetterWorld Partners

What if someone told you that there was a framework that could help explain why each of us can see the same information and come to a completely different conclusion? In this session, Athena helps you understand and apply the Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC). This framework can help you understand how you and your clients are perceiving information and determine the best tips/tools/methods for supporting your and their equity journeys.

Key Concepts: Equity, Cultural Change, Intercultural Development Continuum

Marcia Coné, Coné Consulting

What might be possible when we create space for and engage in practices that center gender equity? This session invites participants to explore their own practice and how we as consultants to grantmakers can integrate intersectional gender equity into every conversation.

Key Concepts: Gender Equity, Intersectionality

Yolanda Johnson and Jeannie Infante Sager, WOC Learning Lab

Our lived experiences inform our identities and therefore our philanthropic priorities and goals. As such, an important part of our philanthropic perspective is influenced by the world as it was when we were born and the environmental factors and values present in our upbringing. From unconscious bias to patriarchy and family dynamics, this course will examine the intersections of intergenerational philanthropy, how women give and how collective decisions can be successfully made, whether in the setting of a family foundation or giving circle.

Key Concepts: Intergenerational, Gender Equity, Women’s Issues, Philanthropy

Risa Rifkind, Disability Lead

The disability community often shares the motto of “nothing about us without us.” But what happens when we’re still left behind, especially those of us who live at the intersection of multi-marginalized identities, including disability? The disability justice principles implore us to create space for leadership from those who are most marginalized, to value all bodies, and to work on cross-social justice issues for collective liberation. Join us to explore how we can bring these principles to life in our everyday decision-making practices, into our strategic plans, and more.

Key Concepts: Disability Justice, Intersectionality

Shanize Byrd and Raymundo Garcia, Frontline Solutions

Explore the Equity Footprint Framework with Frontline Solutions as a way to help your philanthropy clients comprehensively analyze their impact, or footprint, in advancing equity. The Equity Footprint derives from the carbon footprint—both begin with the understanding that harmful systems and practices have been established as the default. It is not enough to simply avoid inequitable practices in a society premised on white supremacy and patriarchy; rather, organizations in partnership must consciously dedicate themselves to centering equity in all facets of their work. Rather than simply minimizing a damaging footprint, an Equity Footprint invites the organization to enact positive, equitable change. Frontline Solutions will also share stories of how the consulting firm has used this framework in partnership with philanthropy clients.

Key Concepts: Equity, Organizational Transformation

Additional Information

Do you need more information? Send us an email at info@nncg.org with Leading with Equity in the subject line and we’ll promise to respond within two business days.