The Women’s Nonprofit Leadership Initiative (WNLI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association of Philadelphia area women leaders in the nonprofit sector that has been working to advance gender diversity on the boards of eds and meds since 2012. WNLI was established by the late Dr. Happy Fernandez, former president of Moore College of Art, two-term member of Philadelphia City Council, and former professor at Temple University.  Learn more about our members.

Though WNLI currently works nationally to advance its message, its initial focus was boards of major nonprofit eds and meds in the Greater Philadelphia region. To that end, WNLI has engaged men and women board members across the five county area.  WNLI’s volunteer members have also worked in cooperation with Philadelphia’s Forum of Executive Women to make available reliable information about women’s representation in the leadership ranks of Greater Philadelphia’s nonprofit eds and meds. In 2019 WNLI joined forces with The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University’s School of Business to produce The Gender Gap In Nonprofit Boardrooms, shining a light on the 50 largest medical and educational institutions in Greater Philadelphia.

In 2020, WNLI collaborated with Nonprofit Issues to publish a national report, Increasing Gender Diversity on the Boards of Nonprofit Eds and Meds, written by two of its members. Since then the co-authors have written articles and blogs for national publications and participated in webinars in order to encourage action by eds and meds board members and stakeholders. 

Our Vision:

Governing boards of nonprofit healthcare and higher education institutions (meds and eds) will reflect the gender, racial, and other diversity of their stakeholders.

Our Beliefs/Why This is Important:

Board gender and racial diversity improves governance and produces better outcomes.
Equity starts at the top.  Women should be full participants in the governance of meds and eds.  

​Our Mission:

To significantly increase the percentage of diverse women on the governing boards of nonprofit healthcare and higher education institutions (meds and eds) and to expand women’s influence and formal leadership on these boards.

Strategy for Pursuing our Mission and Vision:

​We will encourage and support stakeholders of meds and eds to demand change.  Boards need to be urgent and intentional about achieving board diversity.

They need to rethink and reform recruiting and nominating systems, establish pipelines of women candidates and identify new sources of candidates.  

​Our specific priorities and strategies will involve publishing research and disseminating results, doing advocacy and acting as a catalyst by convening others to adopt some of our approaches and/or partner with us. We will utilize our network of contacts regionally and nationally to accomplish our goals.

Learn more about our members.