15 Years of BLCI
Our take on the state of the region

15 Years of BCLI!

Author: Larisa Casillas

This year marks the completion of our 15th Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) cohort. Fifteen years! In Mexican culture, a young woman’s 15th birthday is celebrated with a quinceañera, a beautiful tradition featuring mariachis, food, and elegant dresses.

Over these fifteen years, we’ve learned a lot, which we’ve documented in a new paper, “The Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute: A Pathway to Co-Governance.” Funded by the Blue Shield of California Foundation, the guidebook includes the BCLI’s core principles and lessons learned, highlighted through alumni success stories.

The BCLI trains and supports people of color to co-govern, using an inside/outside strategy to build power within communities excluded from decision-making. Empowering people who have been historically marginalized transforms communities for the better, benefiting everyone.

One featured story is of an alumna who highlighted the experiences of Black people in her rapidly changing city. As Black residents were being increasingly displaced from urban centers like Oakland to the outer regions of the Bay, she partnered with community members to ensure the city’s demographic data reflected these shifts. This led to more funding for Black-led and Black-serving community groups—a simple request with significant impact.

Our alumni build relationships with other commissioners, staff, and community members. They raise important questions to help analyze policy proposals with a racial equity lens. They work to make government more transparent, accessible, and responsive to their communities.

After fifteen years we have over 200 alumni, with more than 60% having served on at least one board or commission. Many are first-generation college graduates from communities directly impacted by inequitable policies. Seventy percent of our alumni are female-identified and 30% are African American, 30% Latine, and just over 20% Asian Pacific Islander.

We hope you’ll join us to celebrate the commencement of the 2024 BCLI cohort on Thursday, June 20. The dress code is informal, and while there won’t be mariachi bands, it is our 15th-year celebration—our own quinceañera. I promise you will be inspired!

Join Us at Commencement!

RSVP Today!

Thursday, June 20, 2024
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Preservation Park, Nile Hall