Blueprint for Leadership (BFL) is a United Way of Berks County program which annually recruits, trains, places and supports individuals from under-represented groups, such as African-American, Latino or Asian, to succeed in positions of leadership in nonprofit agencies and community organizations. BFL was created to ensure, with the diversity of our community continuing to grow, that non-profit boards of directors reflect the community they serve. The BFL class of 2018 is the fifth class to graduate since the program began in 2013. The BFL participants took part in six training sessions and celebrated their growth with a class graduation on May 9.
The graduation took place in the auditorium of Met-Ed, a FirstEnergy Company. With over 50 people in attendance the 13 BFL graduates were able to embrace the support of their company’s leadership, loved ones, and mentors. Claribel Seda, an employee of Penske Truck Leasing and an Emerging Leaders United (ELU) member, shared, “I feel honored to have been selected by the leadership of Penske to participate in BFL.” Seda continued, ”It doesn’t stop here! I am looking forward to using what I have learned in BFL to serve the community.”
The BFL graduates now have sharpened skills that allow them to become aware of the influences that culture, values and beliefs have on how they interact with each other and to leverage that awareness into becoming an effective leader. The interpersonal skills that are needed to be a successful professional and to incorporate them into an effective individual work style have also been honed. The participants are expected to put their new skills into practice through volunteer service with a local organization.
One of the major components of the program is board governance, which prepares participants for service on nonprofit boards of directors. Sara Aulestia, a graduate of the 2017 BFL class and an employee of Cambridge-Lee Industries, credits the BFL program with her opportunity to successfully enter her new role as a United Way of Berks County Board Member. Aulestia said, “Being in BFL helped me to feel more comfortable in my new role because the structure of the BFL sessions is similar to the structure of the UWBC Board meetings.” She continued, “The session on Board Culture, and learning the terminology used within the meetings, helped to make me feel more comfortable.”
Along with enhancing their skills, BFL graduates also leave with a greater support system. Not only do they have the support of their companies and mentors, but the participants also have added 13 new people to their support system. Roberto Sanchez, the unanimously selected President of the 2018 BFL class and an employee of BB&T, made it clear that he will be there to support his fellow graduates in his in his commencement speech. Sanchez encouraged his fellow graduates by telling them, ”Be the right person, in the right place at the right time, and if you don’t think you are the right person I am here to tell you that you are.”
For more information on Blueprint for Leadership please contact Mary Jimenez, Early Childhood and Community Engagement Program Manager, at Maryj@uwberks.org or by phone at 610-685-4609.