#ITSTIME to Take Your Seat: “Be Intentional!” - Merritt McKenzie
I have shared my journey with the Black Corporate Board Readiness (BCBR) Program at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business. In the previous parts, I have shared my decision-making process in deciding to join the program, my professional growth, reflections, and the sense of community created during the program, along with my key takeaways. The in-person, social networking event was a definite highlight and culmination of the program, which I will share in this closing article of the series.
The Networking Event
On September 25th, 2021, the BCBR Program hosted its first in-person social networking event at the beautiful home of Thane Kreiner (BCBR program co-founder) in Sonoma County, CA. The 60+ attendees included cohorts 1 and 2, the program advisors, supporters, and mentors. The views of the vineyard, the lush landscape, and beautiful sunset were the backdrop to the only word that could describe this event…. FAMILY!
I think I can speak for everyone in attendance when I say that we all felt we were amongst our dearest family members and closest friends. The love and joy in the room was infectious. As I looked around, there were only smiles, laughter, hugs, warm embraces, and tears of happiness. Although it was the first time that we’ve ever met each other in person (for many), it felt like we’ve known each other for many years. The fellowship was just tremendous! The networking event was a huge success, and the advisors, mentors, and my fellow cohorts are now forever my “family.”
Be Intentional: Act
The BCBR program shares one of my life tenets…to “be intentional!” This program left me feeling uplifted, excited, and ready to move forward with my goal of creating a real change in the push for diversity in the C-suite, boardroom, and within leadership. My challenge to those of you reading this — be intentional and purposeful in your actions and in what you believe in.
I believe of all the performance attributes great leaders possess, one of the most critical is intentionality. Being intentional is how leaders influence teams, leadership strategy, and deliver meaningful and purposeful change. It is imperative that leaders control their mindset, engage their teams, act decisively, are clear on the mission, and are persistent and resilient with executing on the goal. The BCBR program has this level of the intentionality of delivering on its goal of placing black executives on public and private boards within 1 year of program completion.
Be Connected: Build a Strong Network
I believe that your network is your net worth — and the network the BCBR program provided for my fellow cohorts and I is worth more than I can describe. Uniquely positioned, this program connected us directly to boards — allowing us direct access to decision-makers and helping build networks. The creators of the program, the mentors, and my fellow cohort members collectively are a group with immense energy, power, as well as the will to support each other with achieving our goals and impacting society. Further, we are all focused on reaching out to other executives from marginalized groups and pulling them up to the forefront. This will continue to drive BCBR’s mission in diversifying the boardroom.
Be Impactful: Drive Meaningful & Purposeful Change
Everything we learned from the BCBR program has energized my cohorts and I to be the change we all want to see. This is because the numbers really do tell the story. According to a recent article in the New York Times, “the 18 top venture capital and private equity firms in the nation have invested in 843 private companies that have gone public since 2000. Collectively, those companies are now worth more than $10 trillion. Of the 4,700-some board seats at those companies over the same period, only 49 have been held by Black directors. Let that sink in for a moment. That’s only one percent of thousands of positions, spanning more than 20 years.” This article shows the bigger picture, and the BCBR program allowed me to zoom in and focus on how I can aid in driving the change needed to be outlined in this piece.
The program focused on fellowship, and our cohort became a close support group of its own. We all felt a sense of unity and genuinely want to help each other grow so that we are societal change agents.
All over the nation and the world today, people are crying out for equity. One critical strategy to combat this societal issue will be to create lasting change within organizations. Organizations often tend to drive society, and the BCBR program has driven me to bring my best to all organizations I am engaged in, as well as in society. I am proud to have been a part of the initial BCBR cohort, and I’m grateful for the knowledge, the insights, and the new colleagues I’ve now added to my network.
To learn more about the Black Corporate Board Readiness Program, visit their website.
Read here the remarkable story of one of the BCBR advisors, Robin Washington.
Merritt McKenzie is a growth strategist in the healthcare field. With over 25 years of experience, he strives to build high-performing diverse teams in organizations. Merritt has proven to be successful in sustaining high levels of employee morale and bringing teams together through common goals. As the Chief Operating Officer at Phoenix Physical Therapy, he works to create more effective and efficient operational strategies that both benefit the employees, patients, and the company's growth. A holistic leader, Merritt ensures high standards of patient care, business strategy and execution, team collaboration, and organizational growth.
Merritt McKenzie - Chief Operating Officer - Phoenix Physical Therapy | LinkedIn
As a healthcare executive with multi-site and multi-state operations and P&L responsibility, I'm committed to…