#ITSTIME to take your seat

My journey with the Black Corporate Board Readiness Program, part 1 of 4 — Merritt McKenzie

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” — Shirley Chisholm

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing my journey with the Black Corporate Board Readiness (BCBR) Program.
I’m very excited that we will be having our first in-person social gathering with the cohort in Sonoma County, California, after having gone through the whole program virtually. I will make sure to share my key takeaways of that event here as well, so stay tuned.

As a lifelong learner, I’m passionate about advancing my knowledge in a variety of areas. Lately, I’ve been focused on corporate governance. I found myself at the end of summer 2020, watching both the fallout and subsequent awakening after the racially charged events that took place, with new clarity about my professional purpose.

After some soul searching, it finally hit me: It’s time to start taking intentional steps down the path to the C-suite and corporate board leadership. Societal change is driven by businesses and organizations — to have an impact, you must be in the room.

One of those steps was attending Santa Clara University’s Black Corporate Board Readiness Program (BCBR). Their commitment to placing every participant on a board was both shocking to me and intriguing — and I give them an immense amount of credit for my recently appointed position as COO of Phoenix Physical Therapy.

WHY I DID THE PROGRAM

While I was determining whether BCBR was worth the financial investment, I had a conversation with one of its creators, Thane Kreiner. If you’re looking for guidance on how to be an ally, look no further than the two men who created this program — Dennis Lanham and Thane Kreiner.

They created a space for Black folks to pass on knowledge and I am so grateful to them, as well as Barry Williams and other corporate board luminaries on the impressive advisory council.

The course is a new addition to Santa Clara’s roster, built on the success of the Women’s Corporate Board Readiness program, also designed by Dennis Lanham.

With its inaugural cohort, the program’s goal was to place every member of the cohort on a board within a year’s time. That boldness was the biggest draw for me.

In addition, the advisory council was made up entirely of successful Black corporate board members in Fortune 500 organizations. That “for us, by us” sense of solidarity was another reason I decided the program was worth the investment - to learn from the select few folks who look like me at the top of our country’s most successful multi-billion-dollar public companies - Apple, Google, Starbucks, just to name a few!

Stay tuned for part 2 of my journey with the Black Corporate Board Readiness Program. To learn more about the BCBR Program, visit their website.

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 growth. A holistic leader, Merritt ensures high standards of patient care, business strategy and execution, team collaboration and organizational growth.

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!mpact Magazine is a platform where people with a vision can share their ideas and insights.