Chappell- IngramReflects on Building a Pillar in The Black Community.    

“What we teach goes beyond the ABC’s of board leadership, you can get that out of a book–what we teach is the ‘Why’ of board governance.” -AABLI CEO/Co-Founder Yvette Chappell-Ingram (Photo courtesy of Leroy Hamilton)


Yvette Chappell-Ingram is retiring from The African American Board Leadership Institute (AABLI) after 10 years of service. The organization has initiated a national search for her successor. Chappell-Ingram reflects on her experience of building the non-profit organization and what AABLI means to her.

The mission of AABLI is “to strengthen nonprofit, public, and private organizations by recruiting and preparing African Americans for service on a broad range of governing boards.” Chappell-Ingram has upheld that objective in her years of service as founder and chief executive officer of the organization.

Looking at the intentions of AABLI, Chappell-Ingram explained how it’s connected to the daily operations. “It has been upheld through the training African American professionals and we assist with the placement on governing boards,” she said.  Chappell-Ingram went on to describe the unique process of AABLI and how the mission has been the focal point of the group for over a decade.

“What we teach goes beyond the ABCs of board leadership, you can get that out of a book,” Chappell-Ingram said, “What we teach is the ‘Why’ of board governance.” Chappell-Ingram designed the day-to-day operations to reflect what happens in their line of work and prepares members for challenging experiences that could come up when sitting on a non-profit or company board.

Chappell-Ingram reminisced on the beginning of her journey; co-founder, Virgil Roberts and herself designed AABLI to be longstanding pillar in the Black community.

Before the incubated steps of this philanthropic organization, Chappell-Ingram led as President of the California Legislative Black Caucus Foundation. This foundation’s leadership role prepared her with the skillset to connect and harvest gifts found within the Black community. Chappell-Ingram stated, “I was really in charge of the entire operation; it was a small organization and it wasn’t as complex as ABBLI—so what I brought with me is some leadership skills, presentation skills, the skills to manage communities, the skills to manage staff, and the skills to develop programs.”

Chappell-Ingram elaborated on her devotion to volunteer work, it always had a focus on the education. She started to notice a “common thread,” that ran through the course of her career development. Chappell-Ingram found herself in position to help and empower others.

The idea of a board governance development sector, specifically geared towards people of color, presented itself to Chappell-Ingram after working with Roberts as a speaker.

As President of California Legislative Black Caucus Foundation, Chappelle-Ingram got to know Roberts, as she called on him to speak at conferences for the organization for a number of occasions.

Without a doubt, after his presentation, various people from the audience would ask Roberts about financial methods for their organization. “The first thing that he would ask is ‘who is on your board?’”

Usually, the board members included close friends and family members, which may have factored into the stagnant growth of their company. The need for board governance development introduced itself to Chappelle-Ingram and Roberts. In 2011, Chappell-Ingram joined Roberts to forge the AABLI organization.

A few years later, a AABLI newsletter closed out their 2013-2014 fiscal year.  Chappell-Ingram stated that in that brief time, the organization conducted five major leadership programs, seven workshops/seminars, certified 157 board leaders, with 40 board placements and eight commission appointments.

“Everything that AABLI has become, is because of her work and commitment to the ideas that we had.” – Co-Founder of AABLI Virgil Roberts (Photo courtesy of Leroy Hamilton)

Reflecting on what his co-founder means to AABLI, Roberts said, “What she meant was everything, because she took on the task of actually being the day-to-day person that actually ran the organization, built the organization, and got us to the position that we are 11 years later.” Roberts went on to explain the dedicated work and labor Chappell-Ingram brought to AABLI. “Everything that AABLI has become is because of her work and commitment to the ideas that we had.”

AABLI is an organization specifically orchestrated with the growth of Black people in mind. “We created an institution and our flagship program is specifically for African Americans and professionals, what we’ve seen from that is a number of our participants—right now, it’s over 770 with our last class.  Through that, we’ve been able to create a foreign environment to these professionals.”

Chappell-Ingram explained what that meant to her, it indicated that through the testimonies from the members, the AABLI unique strategy put members in a new space for growth and development by networking with other like-minded professionals.

Each year, Chappell-Ingram’s served in her line of work, improving countless lives within the collective community. Her dedication to lifting while climbing in the professional realm has raised the quality of life for various people of color and their households.  She has devoted 25 years to this practice.

According to the press release, AABLI has developed over 700 members across the U.S., and placed more than 250 of them in positions for the city, county, and state commission boards.  Quoting Chappell-Ingram from the press release, “It has been a privilege to serve the AABLI mission.”

She continued, “Hundreds of African American professionals are now bringing their expertise, experience and perspectives to more than 250 organizations, and more to come. This is the dream of the board room diversity we’ve worked so hard to make real.”

The ideal candidate who would take on this role has been outlined by The Hawkins Company; they will be involved with conducting a nationwide search for best fit for AABLI executive role.

The Hawkins Company specializes in connecting executive leadership for various companies; they have a six-step process that includes a finely detailed assessment, comprehensive review, in close partnership with their client to find the ideal candidate, and honest communication with all parties involved.

Chappell-Ingram said within the press release, “We are making a difference in bringing new voices, new strength to boards both nonprofit and corporate, and to commissions serving vast constituencies,” she said.  Chappell-Ingram added, “But there is much more to do. So, I intend to remain an active and passionate advocate of AABLI and its work.”

The retiring CEO sees AABLI expanding across the globe, making a pivotal change in delivering groomed and diverse professionals within the governing board circuit. Chappell-Ingram closed with what she expects to see coming from the organization as it moves forward. She said, “I see our program being enhanced, to really look at our involvement with our alum.” Chappell-Ingram continued, “We are looking at scaling our operations.” She described her ideal successor would be a “visionary leader that helps scale the organization, that’s committed to the Black community, and the country.”