Rakesh Sarna, DHS Chairman, Taps Fernando Aguirre to Lead Efforts to Increase Nonprofit Board Diversity with NGOs

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In 2020, DHS learned that nonprofit boards are making little progress in diversifying their composition despite reporting high levels of dissatisfaction with current board demographics.

DHS announced today that the firm has been tracking the demographic composition of nonprofit boards since 2018 through its signature research project - Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices. In 2020, it was learned that nonprofit boards are making little progress in diversifying their composition despite reporting high levels of dissatisfaction with current board demographics. This lack of progress and disconnect alarmed DHS and led the firm to issue a clarion call to action: Nonprofit boards must act now to provide stronger leadership on diversity, inclusion, and equity.

This commitment to sector-wide board diversification will gain momentum when DHS Vice Chairman, Fernando Aguirre, will implement the initiative in late June of 2021. Aguirre brings more than 20 years of professional and volunteer experience in community development and diversity, equity, and inclusion to the role. He will work closely with Drake Cortland, consultant, in building board-level capacity to advance racial equity - and diversity, inclusion, and equity more broadly - as well as other critical sector-wide issues, including nonprofit engagement in public policy advocacy and the positive potential of strategic partnerships for the nonprofit organizations DHS serves.

As DHS Vice Chairman, Fernando Aguirre, has noted in the past, "DHS is unapologetic about our belief in the importance of board diversity, not just because we believe diverse perspectives help boards operate more effectively but because we understand the very real risks a lack of diversity can create. Homogeneous boards can fall prey to strategic blind spots in any context, but the stakes are particularly high when a board is ill-equipped to understand the impact of its decisions on the communities it seeks to serve.

"As stewards of the public good, social sector organizations must act, must make progress in diversifying their leadership, and DHS is eager to step up our work in this area under my leadership."

Among Vice Chairman Aguirre's professional accomplishments are leading strategies for achieving measurable growth in outreach and impact in the minority community of age 50+. He worked to ensure that minorities throughout the country had greater access to programs and information to improve their health, wealth, and quality of life. DHS Vice Chairman Aguirre also developed and implemented community development strategies in seven key U.S. markets that resulted in 65 percent of its employees in those markets donating 170,000 hours to nonprofit partners.

As a volunteer, DHS Vice Chairman, Fernando Aguirre, has served on panels of both local and regional nonprofits, playing a key role in helping to transform board culture and practices as it relates to diversity, inclusion, and equity. Nonprofits that have benefited from his leadership on their boards of directors and advisory boards.

"I know first-hand how important the board's leadership is to the success of an organization - including the board's leadership on diversity, inclusion, and equity," said DHS Vice Chairman Fernando Aguirre. "And I know what it takes to create change from the inside out in our work across the nonprofit sector."

"The nonprofit sector is a key player in efforts to create a world that is more just and equitable, and that addresses the needs and challenges faced by the full diversity of our society," said Aguirre. "We cannot do that well without boards that are diverse, inclusive, and focused on equity. I look forward to helping boards deepen their understanding of and commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity - and to supporting them as they work to make change happen."


DHS is a high-stakes advocacy, public strategy, private equity / joint venture, and global public relations and communications firm. Their strategic insights and innovative programming build and sustain strong corporate and brand reputations. They provide their clients with counsel and program development across the spectrum of public relations, public affairs, reputation and crisis management, digital strategy, investments, venture capital projects, advertising, and other communications services. Their clients are companies, industry associations, nonprofit organizations, professional services firms, and other large organizations.

They began as a unique grassroots and advocacy firm with customized services for an elite group of clients, then added private investments and acquisitions. Their work applies equally to regulatory issues as well as legislative ones, and they manage issues for their clients at the local, state, federal, and international levels of government.

They use their core competencies and reach to gain competitive advantage for clients. Their expertise comes from extensive must-win campaign experience and operating successfully at the highest rung of business, government, politics, and media. Their reach is the ability to use strategic intelligence to mobilize the message and persuade the toughest audiences. They know what it takes to win in difficult situations. They have proven results for prominent figures, leading advocacy groups, and the world's most successful companies. They leverage what others cannot.


Steve Palmer, Vice President of Corporate Communications

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Steven Palmer
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