A Safe Place for Growth: Black Women Leadership Series

In partnership with the Goldman Sachs One Million Black Women, our alumni gained valuable insight on the challenges and opportunities of leaning into their authentic leadership as Black women.
featured panel of guest speakers for Black Women Leadership Seriesfeatured panel of guest speakers for Black Women Leadership Series
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“As leaders, we keep going,” explained Michelle Pierre-Farid, New Leaders National Senior Executive Director for Strategic Partnerships and Alumni. In partnership with Goldman Sachs One Million Women, Pierre-Farid spoke to a room filled with her peers: superintendents, principals, district administrators, assistant principals from across Chicago and the nation. All Black women. 

“As Black women and Black women leaders, we carry huge loads every single day and we are not always thought about," Pierre-Farid continued. "The stress we carry contributes to heart disease and high maternal mortality rates. We have our superwoman capes on, so we keep running. We don’t stop to take care of ourselves. These two days are about taking off your cape. Because you matter.”

In 2021, Goldman Sachs launched One Million Black Women, a $10 billion commitment in direct capital and $100 million in philanthropic support to positively impact the lives of Black women across seven impact areas—education being one of them. Historically, Black women have faced disproportionate racial and gender gaps, both of which contribute to a well-documented racial wealth gap in the US. To date, Goldman Sachs has deployed over $1 billion in investment capital and over $20 million in philanthropic grants to address them. New Leaders is honored to be a grantee. 

In addition to this two-day convening in Chicago and an upcoming event in Washington, DC, New Leaders alumni will receive executive coaching from Goldman Sachs mentors. Committed to professional and personal growth, the women who joined us in Chicago had the opportunity to explore how to lead authentically, set boundaries, generate psychological safety, and grow as powerful instructional leaders who get results for students. They learned new strategies to elevate staff voice and agency and to nurture empowering school cultures. They spent time reflecting on their personal leadership, well-being, successes and opportunities. 

They were also surrounded by equally inspiring Black women leaders. Each of the keynote speakers shared wisdom from their own leadership journeys.

“I’m bold. I’m confident. I encourage women to lead that way. Sometimes we think we don’t have any power or we think we don’t have a right to power. We feel uncomfortable and guilty about it. But really we’re using the opportunity and the responsibility to make things better. If you are more comfortable, you are going to be more bold in your leadership.”
Janice Jackson, CEO, Hope Chicago, Former CEO, Chicago Public Schools

“The individuals you are leading want to hear your failures. They want to hear how you overcame adversity. They want to understand how to get through a difficult and tough situation. Be personal, be authentic, don’t lose that connection you had from an experiential perspective. And then bring others into those conversations and spaces with you.” 
Regina Cross, Vice President, Private Wealth Management, Goldman Sachs

“The reality is we can work 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and there will still be more emails. They don’t go away. But when you take that one day for yourself, when you admit that superwoman is a myth, when you acknowledge that you are enough, that’s how you avoid burnout. That’s how you move from exhaustion to rejuvenation.”
April Ervin, MBA, Managing Partner and Chief Peace Officer, Sustainable Leadership, LLC

“Mentorship opened up my world. I built a bond with a senior vice president and the only other Black woman in leadership. I just felt like I could be myself. And she was like: 'You can do this. You can do that.' It changed my life. She’s been pivotal at every step. I hope to do the same for other women.”
Kristin Little, Vice President, Sustainable Finance Group, Goldman Sachs

All of the speakers spoke to the need to cultivate the leadership of other Black women. Strong leaders naturally recognize the same leadership potential in others. They also build supportive networks to lean into, nurturing the capacity of other aspiring leaders all the while benefiting from like-minded thought partners and mentors whom they trust and respect. Research shows that having a mentor, particularly a mentor who reflects your racial and cultural identity, is an important predictor of sustained success.

“I challenge you to think about how you’re building up those who come after you,” Jackson shared. “Because you do have the power to make sure you’re not the only one.” 

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