Member Spotlight: Shaquana Broadhead

I’m the Individual Giving Manager at Sesame Workshop, a nonprofit media and educational organization that helps children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. Generations of families know Sesame Workshop as the makers of the pioneering children’s television show, Sesame Street.

I recently celebrated five years working in the nonprofit sector. As a young girl, I participated in cash fundraisers, selling cookies and cupcakes for various causes, and I volunteered my time and talent in the youth choir. If you had asked me then what I aspired to be when I grew up, I might have said “a teacher” or “the President of the United States”. I did not know fundraising was a career path that I could pursue until after I graduated college.

I started fundraising professionally in 2013. I always had a passion for helping people and building meaningful relationships, so I applied for a job with MZA Events as a Fundraising Coordinator for AIDS Walk New York. In my role, I managed the cultivation and stewardship of AIDS Walk’s highest individual fundraisers and organized corporate and community group involvement across three cities. During my time at MZA Events, I was deeply motivated by the sense of purpose that comes with helping nonprofits further their mission and make a lasting impact on the individuals and communities they serve.

In 2018, I joined Sesame’s Philanthropic Development team as a Coordinator/Assistant to the Chief Development Officer. I was inspired by the incredible social impact work the organization did internationally and on a personal level I’ve experienced the impact of Sesame Street firsthand as a young fan of the show.

Navigating the nonprofit sector as a Black woman has been both challenging and rewarding. One of the initial challenges I faced was imposter syndrome. I experienced self-doubt and felt the need to prove to myself and others that I deserved to be here. Over time, I realized the significance of being a visible presence, not only for myself but for other women of color who may be considering a career in fundraising.

For the past three years, I’ve prioritized building community with other women of color working in the philanthropic sector. I have found that embracing my identity and sharing my insights has helped me develop the confidence to succeed in this sector. Becoming an EPIP member has been an important part of my professional development journey. Connecting with other emerging leaders in philanthropy has provided a sense of community and belonging.

As a member, I’ve attended events such as the National Conference and joined the communities of practice, Emerging Women of Color, and the People of Color Network. These supportive networks have been affirming, powerful, and restorative. The communities of practice have offered me an expanded network, new personal leadership skills, and an understanding of the unique set of experiences and perspectives Black women bring to the table.

Last year, I had the opportunity to co-facilitate a presentation exploring internalized racism and white supremacy culture in the workplace, and how women of color can connect to ancestral knowledge as an antidote. This was my first time facilitating a presentation exploring this topic and it allowed me to acknowledge the ways systemic oppression and the dominant culture reinforce imposter feelings and internalized racism. 

Building meaningful connections within the philanthropic community is essential. These connections provide a support system that is key to navigating the challenges unique to our experiences. I am grateful that I have a space like EPIP, that empowers me to show up as myself and centers my experience as a Black woman working in philanthropy.

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  • Agency Mabu
    published this page in Blog 2023-12-14 18:23:45 -0500