While America is sometimes seen as a country of go-getters and self-starters, few people get ahead completely by themselves. It pays to have help and support from others in your field, and that’s where professional organizations come in. Regardless of your career, an organization likely exists to provide opportunities for networking, education, and more. There’s no shortage of these groups devoted to African Americans, and what follows are our picks for 10 of the best.
American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE): Founded in 1976, the AABE aims to be “a resource for policy discussion of the economic, social and political impact of environmental and energy policies on African Americans and other minorities.”
The Executive Leadership Council: Formed in 1986 by 19 black corporate execs, this renowned non-profit describes itself as “the preeminent member organization for the development of global black leaders.” Its mission: “to increase the number of successful black executives — both domestically and internationally — by adding value to their development, leadership, and philanthropic endeavors throughout the life-cycle of their careers thereby strengthening their companies, organizations, and communities.”
National Association of Black Accountants, Inc.: Representing the 200,000-plus African American professionals in accounting and finance, the NABA works toward greater participation by minorities in relevant fields and provides resources and education to reach its goals.
BDPA: Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, BDPA operates with the motto, “Advancing Careers From The Classroom To The Boardroom.” The organization comprises members from computer science, information technology, and other STEM fields, and through various forms of community outreach, it strives to achieve greater diversity in the IT industry.
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE): Offering training, mentoring, professional development, and more, this Virginia based-organization boasts 394 chapters in six regions and one extremely important mission statement: “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”
National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice: Since 1974, this group of criminal justice professionals — everyone from corrections officers and court employees to academics and clergy — has been committed to “achieving equal justice for blacks and other minorities,” according to the website.
National Urban League: Established back in 1910 and based in New York City, the National Urban League serves 300 communities in 35 states via a network of 35 affiliates. In 2010, as part of its stated goal, to “provide economic empowerment, educational opportunities and the guarantee of civil rights for the underserved in America,” the National Urban League launched I AM EMPOWERED, an initiative centered on four key aspirational goals for empowering communities: education, employment, housing, and healthcare,
National Black MBA Association: Providing networking opportunities and other resources, this top organization for African-American MBA professionals is known for its annual conference and a scholarship program that’s awarded more than $5 million to young minority leaders looking to pursue entrepreneurship or careers in business.
100 Black Men of America, Inc.: With more than 10,000 members (not all of them men) spread across some 116 chapters, the 100 is “committed to the intellectual development of youth and the economic empowerment of the African American community based on the following precepts: respect for family, spirituality, justice, and integrity,” as per the website. It offers mentoring initiatives, education, health programs, and more.
National Black Nurses Association: Founded in 1971 on behalf of African-American nurses working toward addressing health disparities in their communities, the NBNA offers its 350,000-plus members an annual conference, research programs, and a National Black Nurses Day on Capitol Hill.
The National Black Business Council, Inc.: This nonprofit works to establish relationships with Fortune 1000 companies and support black-owned businesses. Over the years, it’s partnered with companies such as Verizon and Raytheon and been active in promoting legislation designed to make a difference for the black community.