Inclusiveness at Work: How to Build Inclusive Nonprofit Organizations Fictional Case Study


This marks the beginning of a fictional narrative about the Children's Health Center. The narratives are provided for illustrative purposes only. None of these fictional events, characters, or information are based on or meant to represent any individuals, organizations, or events.

About Children's Health CenterEstablished in 1990, the Children's Health Center (CHC) serves children in the downtown neighborhoods of a small midwestern city. CHC provides services primarily to children whose families have no health insurance and little or no ability to pay for services. The organization has fifteen full-time and three part-time employees and twenty-five clinicians who volunteer their services on a regular basis.

Staff and BoardCEO: Joe Anderson, MD
Race/Ethnicity: White Background: Joe was hired six months ago as CEO of CHC. He is an experienced administrator who previously ran the pediatric division of a local hospital. During his time there, he was part of a hospital-wide inclusiveness initiative. Staff members changed the ways in which they interacted with the hospital's constituents. As the hospital's policies and procedures become more community-friendly, more children were treated with better success rates, and the hospital raised more money from the community. When Joe joined CHC, he decided to bring the power of this experience to his new organization.

Clinical Director: Marcie Young, Ph.D.
Race/Ethnicity: African-American Background: Marcie has been with CHC for five years, has a doctorate in hospital administration, and supervises the organization's primarily volunteer clinical staff. She has tried in the past to implement policies and procedures that address the needs of diverse communities, but she had not felt supported by the previous CEO. She is skeptical that Joe, despite his interest in the topic, will be able to make a real difference.

Supervising Nurse: Luisa Hernandez, RN
Race/Ethnicity: Latina Background: Luisa is an efficient, experienced, and well-liked nurse who often has the primary relationships with the children and families that CHC serves. She has been with the organization for eleven years and hopes to work there for the rest of her career. Her focus is on the patients, and she is concerned that the time spent on inclusiveness could distract the organization from making needed changes in patient services.

Development and Community Relations Director: Eleanor Wheaton
Race/Ethnicity: White Background: Eleanor has been CHC's Development and Community Relations Director for two years, and was Development and Community Relations Assistant for seven years prior to her promotion to Director. She raises significant funds in partnership with the Board's development committee. When Joe describes his past experience at the hospital and his plans to build inclusiveness at CHC, Eleanor believes that he is meddling with a perfectly well-run organization.

Director of Finance and Administration: Hector Gonzales
Race/Ethnicity: Latino Background: A Yale MBA graduate and a friend of Joe's, Hector has been with CHC for four months. He left a lucrative corporate job to come to CHC, primarily because it serves the community where he grew up. His prior employer, a Fortune 500 manufacturing company, had a diversity department that helped ensure that the company's personnel policies and marketing strategies were in alignment with the needs of diverse communities. Hector has little hands-on experience with implementing these practices because they were already embedded in the company's organizational culture. His primary concern at CHC is what he perceives as a "loose" staff culture that may be resulting in less than effective operations.

Business Manager: Trevor Smith
Race/Ethnicity: White Background: Trevor has been with CHC for two years, and he ran the Finance Department alone during the search that resulted in Hector's being hired. He is highly competent in financial matters, but realizes that he has a significant amount to learn about working with people. He has asked for supervisory responsibility so that he can develop in this area, and he now supervises the CHC receptionist.

Receptionist: Melody Yee
Race/Ethnicity: Chinese-American Background: Melody is a young mother, recently divorced, who has a two-year-old daughter. She loves working at CHC, where she has been employed for four months. Prior to joining the organization, she was in a job training program and worked in the evenings for a retail store.

Board Chair: Alice Dreyfuss
Race/Ethnicity: White Background: Alice, who is always called Mrs. Dreyfuss by the staff, has been the Board chair of CHC for ten years. Most of the Board members are friends of hers, and together, they raise a good deal of money for the organization, primarily through two gala events each year. She is proud of her role in hiring Joe away from the hospital, and she was willing to promise him her full support for an inclusiveness initiative during the hiring process. In the months since Joe accepted the position, she has not thought about the subject.

Board Development Committee Chair: Beth Zwick
Race/Ethnicity: White Background: Beth is a long-time friend of Alice Dreyfuss. She is a prominent member of local society, with a reputation for giving fun and meaningful parties for CHC. Though Beth has never discussed inclusiveness with Alice or other members of the CHC Board, she has a personal commitment to the topic. Her daughter is married to a Latino, and Beth has become very close with her son-in-law and his parents.

Board Nominating Committee Chair: Jeff Ramsey
Race/Ethnicity: White Background: Jeff owns and manages a small local manufacturing company that he inherited from his father. He grew up in the neighborhood where the Children's Health Center is located but now lives in the suburbs. His understanding of inclusiveness is pragmatic and related to the practices of his business. He took on the role of nominating committee chair with the desire to help increase the diversity of the Board.