About WNLI

Our
Vision

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


Our Beliefs

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


Our Mission

To significantly increase the representation and diversity of women on the governing boards of nonprofit healthcare and higher education institutions (meds and eds) and expand women's influence and formal leadership on these boards.

Our
Strategy


Our Strategy

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

Our
Research


Our Research

WNLI has partnered with La Salle University and its Nonprofit Center to conduct studies on board diversity in Philadelphia-area universities and healthcare systems, and with Nonprofit Issues to publish national research.
Learn More

Get
Involved


Get Involved

No matter your role in your community, you can get involved and support diversity, equity and inclusion on nonprofit boards. See our “Things You Can Do” page.
Learn More

Happy Craven Fernandez 1938-2013

WNLI would not exist had it not been for Happy Fernandez, who, in 2012, convened a series of meetings of women leaders in the Philadelphia nonprofit sector to discuss how to ensure that women would rise to leadership positions in major nonprofits. She did this when she “retired” from her 13-year presidency of Moore College of Art and Design, “the first and only historically visual arts college for women in the nation.” She refused to say she had retired, preferring the word “rewired.”

She had, in fact, rewired and changed courses throughout her career, moving from the faculty of Temple University, where she received her Doctorate, to two terms as an at-large member of Philadelphia’s City Council, to becoming the first woman to seek a major-party nomination to be mayor of Philadelphia in 1999.

A lifelong advocate for public schools, she also founded and led the Parents Union for Public Schools and the Children’s Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.  Her interest in public education led her in 1976 to write a handbook, “Parents Organizing to Improve Schools.” Five years later, she wrote “The Child Advocacy Handbook.”

When she died suddenly in 2013, the women she had convened in 2012 decided to continue the work she had started. Additional women leaders continued to join this informal group that became Women’s Nonprofit Leadership Initiative, (WNLI), a nonprofit association with 501(C)(3) status.

At her memorial service, her three sons and husband captured the personality of a devoted family member who overcame childhood polio to become a determined and focused competitor (especially in tennis). The hundreds attending the service and the prominent leaders who spoke reflected her huge and positive imprint in the Philadelphia area.

Our
Vision

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


Our Beliefs

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


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.

Our
Strategy


Our Strategy

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

Our
Research


Our Research

Learn More

Get
Involved


Get Involved

No matter your role in your community, you can get involved and support diversity, equity and inclusion on nonprofit boards. See our “things you can do” page.
Learn More

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