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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Intercultural Relations

First Advisor

Kent Warren

First Committee Member

Francisca Trujillo-Dalbey

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth Kirkhart


Although the population of the United States is becoming increasingly diverse, data on the composition of nonprofit boards nationally indicate a persistent pattern of under-representation of minority groups. This exploratory study was conducted in a large metropolitan area with a diverse population. The research investigated board diversity with a small sample of leaders of nonprofit organizations and current or prospective board members from under-represented groups. Data were collected from nonprofit leaders by an anonymous web-based survey and from board members by telephone interview.

The research found that all the nonprofit organizations in the study served client groups that were racially and ethnically diverse. The majority of survey respondents felt that having a diverse board was important, and the lack of board diversity was a source of dissatisfaction. Overall board recruitment was reported to be difficult. The most frequent sources of new board members were referrals from current board members and personal networks. Typically, the nonprofit organizations in this study did not allocate financial resources to build board diversity. Interview participants identified the value of recruitment strategies that would expand the pool of potential board members. Other recommendations included increased attention to the process of board entry for new board members. In conclusion, it appears that building more diverse boards will require sustained efforts, but that the changes necessary to successfully include people from different cultural backgrounds will also strengthen nonprofit organizations.



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