Sean Thomas-Breitfeld

Building Movement Project
Sean Thomas-Breitfeld co-directs the Building Movement Project (, which supports U.S. nonprofits to engage in social change/justice, In his previous roles, Sean worked at the Center for Community Change developing training programs for grassroots leaders, coordinating online and grassroots advocacy efforts, and lobbying on a range of issues, including immigration reform, transportation equity and anti-poverty programs, Sean also worked as a Policy Analyst at the National Council of La Raza (now Unidos). Sean holds a MPA from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service where he currently teaches and a Bachelor’s Degree from St. Olaf College in Minnesota.

Presentations from Facing Race 2018

Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap

Leaders from Detroit and Los Angeles will discuss ways to address the nonprofit racial leadership gap. In 2017, the Building Movement Project released a report, Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap, that challenged prevailing narratives for why there are so few leaders of color in the nonprofit sector. Rather than the conventional deficit model — that People of Color were unable or unwilling to take on top leadership — the results from over 4,000 nonprofit respondents showed People of Color and whites had similar qualifications and that People of Color were more likely to aspire to lead nonprofit organizations. Respondents also reported that structural barriers, from white boards to biased executive recruiters to funders, prevent People of Color from advancing to executive leadership jobs. During this session, we will present survey results including national data, data on the LGBTQ and California subsamples, and a new analysis of the data by race and gender. Two presenters from the Detroit area and Los Angeles, will briefly share their observations of the nonprofit racial leadership landscape and actions they are taking to change the narrative and to address the real barriers: racialized biases in the sector. In structured and highly interactive small groups, audience members will be learn from the presenters and their peers about practical ways of changing the narrative and taking concrete steps to address the nonprofit racial leadership gap. These will be captured and presented back to the full group.

Speakers: Sean Thomas-Breitfeld, Yodit Mesfin Johnson, Aurea Montes-Rodriguez