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pte-nov18mf-8449-bell-mckoy-dianeDiane Bell-McKoy

CEO and president, Associated Black Charities

Acknowledge your fear and go past it. That is what Diane Bell-McKoy, CEO and president of Associated Black Charities, regularly does. 

“Much of what I have done, I am petrified (of),” she said. “I’m petrified. Do XYZ, turn an organization around, talk about bringing people across different ages, races together petrifies me in terms of things that I have done, but the larger belief and the larger focus on outcomes keeps me grounded to go past my fear. My fear is there. It’s not like I’m fearless cause I’ve got fear but I’m going to be focused on what’s on the other side of that fear, and I’m going to face it and keep pushing past it. Women have to do that. They have to understand what their value is and have to put that voice of value in their head and repeat it to themselves over and over again because so much of the world tells us we are not valuable.”

Bell-McKoy has spent much of her life looking for ways to uplift the lives of African Americans. Known for having a knack of addressing issues that others will not like — poverty, joblessness, housing and inequality — she has a sense of people and places and also sees solutions when others only witness challenges.

Bell-McKoy notes she was driven to the nonprofit world through the need for real system change and to alter outcomes for people of color. At ABC since 2007, she was previously a senior fellow at the Annie E. Casey Foundation and led Baltimore’s Empowerment Zone. Her keys to success are faith, collaboration, integrity and a belief that something different is possible.

The biggest challenge throughout her career is to anticipate what are the key issues and the potential solutions often before other people know it.

“That is a challenge because you are trying to help,” she said. “I am very data-driven and (I’m) trying to help people see the world differently about deep social problems that have plagued us, but (I’m) offering them a different way to look at it and a different solution. You are asking people to do a paradigm shift. That’s a challenge. That’s a challenge anytime. You are asking them to change their beliefs.”

She has received a few lifetime achievement awards recently but her work is nowhere near finished. “I want people to look back (one day) and know that I am absolutely going to persevere. That I was a person who persevered to find a way to solutions. … I’ve always been a woman of integrity and I’ve always believed that something positive is possible. There is no way you can tell me that it is not and that I value relationships across race, across, gender, age. I value relationships.”

This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Path To Excellence: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Path to Excellence magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Path to Excellence.