Associated Black Charities (ABC) unveils The Black Leadership Circle, a visionary initiative catering to African American nonprofit and corporate leaders in the Greater Baltimore vicinity. This collective endeavor to foster a progressive, inclusive, and nurturing environment. 

The primary impetus driving its establishment is the cultivation of a pathway for Black professionals to ascend to leadership roles. While The Black Leadership Circle operates independently from ABC, the racial equity institution pledges to fortify the group by furnishing infrastructure and operational assistance. 

 “Associated Black Charities is already very unapologetically committed to breaking down barriers that present for Black people on the heels of racism,” said Chrissy Thornton, executive director of ABC and founding member of the Black Leadership Circle. “Having accomplished, powerful and committed voices behind that work and having the community see the Black Leadership Circle operate in unity and empowerment while advocating to create new opportunities for Black people is going to be a game changer.” 

The concept for the Black Leadership Circle arose out of brainstorming sessions between Thornton and Robyn Murphy, CEO of JRM Consultancy. As Thornton embarked on her new role at ABC in 2023, she sought the advice of other Black leaders to support her transition. One of the strategic thought partners was Murphy.  

In their conversations, the pair kept returning to the need for an initiative that would unite local Black corporate and nonprofit executives across all sectors.  

“The Black Leadership Circle should exist as a brain trust. It should exist as a peer-networking organization,” said Murphy, founding member of The Black Leadership Circle. “It should have the ability and extension to reach out to other community and elected leaders who are making decisions to see how we can be of support and how we and other Black businesses can be supported.”  

The Black Leadership Circle’s Advisory Council comprises local executives, like Deriece K. Harrington, government affairs director for PepsiCo; Mark Anthony Thomas, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee; and Shelonda Stokes, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.  

Chris Simon, founder and CEO of BTST Services and co-owner of BLK Swan, will chair the council.  

“The Black Leadership Circle is not just about gathering professionals, it’s about empowering Black leaders with safe spaces to navigate professional landscapes, leverage their collective voices and drive meaningful change in our community and workplaces,” said Simon in a statement. 

 Applications for general membership in The Black Leadership Circle will open in April.   



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