News Flash


Posted on: September 21, 2018

Knowles: Olympia Fields resident works to help black women obtain a variety of leadership roles

DailySouthtown logo

Knowles: Olympia Fields resident works to help black women obtain a variety of leadership roles

Sandra Finley was mentored by the late activist Arnita Young Boswell, the first national director of the early learning program Head Start.

Boswell, a key organizer of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s 1966 fair housing march in Chicago, provided a lot of great advice to Finley.

Today, Finley is president and CEO of the League of Black Women, which Boswell founded. Just as Boswell helped Finley, the group also has worked to provide professional leadership development for black women.

One of the greatest lessons that Boswell taught her was the importance of an unified effort.

SandraFinley1“What we can do together, is like Delta soil. It’s rich,” Finley, of Olympia Fields, recalled Boswell telling her.

“Think of us as an advocacy think tank,” Boswell added. “We have one mission and that is to determine the best strategic pathways for black women to ascend to leadership.”

The organization, which Finley has headed since 2000, conducts workshops and webinars at such sites as Harvard University, Black Women’s Expo and at other events.

“Our distinctive anchor work is research,” said Finley, who spoke earlier this year at the 2018 Harvard University Gender and Work Symposium on the league’s latest report, “Black Women’s Economic Agenda, Blackwomanomics: A Policy Framework.”

On the agenda for public policy makers should be addressing pay disparity with policies that take into account the systemic discrimination black woman suffer that don’t leave them perpetually behind, Finley said. They also should support the growth of successful black women-owned businesses, she said.

“Our businesses are too small,” she said.

They need to be mid-sized and large to provide more opportunities in African-American communities, she said.

Black families send their kids to college, they graduate and typically have to go outside their communities to pursue career opportunities, she said.

“We are the greatest exporters of talent,” she said. “Black woman-owned businesses need to be vibrant enough to help anchor the economic security of their communities.”

Among the group’s public policy recommendations are the establishment of a national women’s bank with a mandate that prioritizes services and programs for black women and encouragement of black women-owned banks. The group also wants assure black women specifically are recruited for government contract bidding opportunities.

The league, which has a database of 6,000 women, offers mentorship support for professional woman and entrepreneurs and plans to unveil a new entrepreneur initiative next year to help black women business owners, Finley said.

Over the years, the league, which started in 1970, has done important surveys and research looking at professional black women’s attitudes and perceptions about risk and risk-taking. That research done in partnership with Deloitte and DePaul University found that it is a myth that black professional women don’t take risks. The problem is they don’t get the appropriate return on their risk investment.

The report said black women need to: establish appropriate networks of sponsors and advisors to help them with their careers. The report also wants the women to pursue better opportunities when they don’t get proper recognition and support on their jobs.

Black women must seek out organizations that embrace who they are and the talent they bring to the table, Finley said.

In short, know what you’re getting into. She offered the analogy, “If you go into a bad neighborhood you’re going to get jacked.”

Meanwhile, earlier research the organization did in partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton on what’s key to fostering the leadership potential of black woman said, “organizations must foster climates that are receptive to bicultural leadership without resistance or sabotage,” and “recognize and acknowledge that white males have a continuing advantage because of their primacy in setting the cultural norms and their numerical domination in the hierarchy of American organizations.”

To extend advantage to others, the league recommends in part that “companies provide early leadership training and coaching to help black women successfully confront negative stereotypes” and “foster a culture of inclusion that addresses the needs of black women as defined by black women.”

Among individuals who have been helped in her nonprofit entrepreneurial pursuit by the league is Flossmoor resident Dr. Shelley Amuh, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Advocate South Suburban Hospital and Advocate Trinity Hospital, who is launching a nonprofit, the Puddle Project. The organization is a mentorship program to assist pregnant teens in “navigating through high school into college or training programs so they can take care of themselves and their children,” Amuh said.

The league helped link her with a legal organization that connects lawyers wanting to volunteer at nonprofits, she said. League participants also provided her guidance on how to put together a strong board.

She has participated in virtual seminars on how to more effectively use her time, the importance of knowing what you’re good at and what you’re not good at, and designating accordingly, she said.

“There's no way I would have been able to do what I have done without the help of women in the league,” she said.

Additional Info...
Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Home

Olympia Fields Park District

Budo Martial Arts Classes

Posted on: July 30, 2021
Blood Drive

Blood Drive on September 2nd

Posted on: July 30, 2021

A Trip to Beautiful Maine

Posted on: July 29, 2021

Movies in the Park!

Posted on: July 22, 2021

Classic Car Show on August 7

Posted on: July 22, 2021
No Plastic

Plastic Free July

Posted on: June 18, 2021
Village of Olympia Fields_icons-03

Let’s Fight COVID Together!

Posted on: June 11, 2021
Metra Logo

Metra to Increase Service

Posted on: June 11, 2021
Village President

Letter from the Village President

Posted on: May 28, 2021
ComEd Offers Options to Help Customers Manage Electric Bills

ComEd Energy Efficiency Program

Posted on: May 28, 2021
News Placeholder Image

Community Shred Day on June 12

Posted on: May 14, 2021
UPS Hodgkins May events flyer

UPS Hiring Events

Posted on: May 14, 2021
Water Colors

Zoom Art Classes For Kids

Posted on: April 16, 2021
Amazon Worker

Amazon Launching in University Park!

Posted on: April 2, 2021
Restore IL

Restore Illinois Plan

Posted on: March 19, 2021

Open Enrollment Has Begun

Posted on: February 15, 2021
Road Closure

Village of Flossmoor Vollmer Road Closure

Posted on: February 14, 2021
State Seal of Illinois

The Governor's Executive Order 2020-74

Posted on: December 15, 2020
New Police Logo

A Message from the Chief of Police

Posted on: November 20, 2020
of-homepage copy

Like Us on Facebook!

Posted on: August 27, 2020

Guidance on the use of face masks

Posted on: April 20, 2020
sba logo

SBA Loans Available

Posted on: March 20, 2020
Walgreens Logo

Walgreens: We're here for our seniors

Posted on: April 20, 2020
Pew Logo

Where Black Homeownership Is the Norm

Posted on: August 17, 2018