Nakeya T Fields of Therapeutic Play Foundation: 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Lead A Nonprofit Organization
Non profit status does not mean automatic monetary support and funding. Oftentimes people think that once they become a non-profit organization, money starts rushing in. That is definitely not the case. It is imperative to have structure to maintain your organization’s growth.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nakeya T. Fields.
Nakeya T. Fields is a mental health entrepreneur, author, and speaker with more than 12 years of experience in developing and running mental health-related, community-focused programming. She is the Founder and Chair of the Board for The Therapeutic Play Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to build a healthier, more resilient world for those in under-resourced communities.
Nakeya is the best selling author of “Mental Health Entrepreneur — Gain Freedom and Escape the 9–5 Grind: How To Treat Mental Illness and Monetize Your Expertise,” released In April 2018. Her second book, The “Manifest It! Action Planner: An Accountability Tool for the Powerful” will be available in 2021. Nakeya is active in her community as a leader in the African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Steering, Planning and Community Action Teams. She also deepens her impact as the Chair of the Black Mental Health Task Force which seeks to empower community members of Black and African Heritage through advocacy and policy reform.
Thank you so much for doing this with us. Before we begin our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”?
As a licensed mental health professional, I have a passion for community building. I strive to empower women, children, and families to be happy, healthy, and well by establishing self care routines. I encourage members of my community to take time for themselves, especially when they are not feeling their best. Our organization provides mental health services such as individual, group and family therapy, as well as offering restorative yoga, doula, and several outreach events.
Can you tell us the story behind why you decided to start or join your non nonprofit?
During a difficult period in my life I lacked support. I never want anyone to feel like I did, like there is no place for them to go. That feeling motivated me to open my organization and create a safe space for others.
Can you describe how you or your organization aims to make a significant social impact?
I want mental health support to be an ongoing conversation in school systems and amongst students. We have to teach school systems awareness and how to give proper assessments to people of color. Too often we are put into a box with a negative stigma surrounding mental health. I want to impact change and educate the public on the immense benefits of healing through therapy services. Our goal is to treat clients using a holistic approach. We strive to be culturally and racially inclusive, and to expose the whole family to treatment.
Without saying any names, can you share a story about an individual who was helped by your idea so far?
When we first started this organization, I had a six year old client who grew up in a home with domestic violence. She was a selective mute with severe separation anxiety which caused her to do poorly in school. Once she became my client, she was able to slowly learn how to express herself creatively and learn how to build trusting relationships through play therapy. This client holds a special place in my heart. Our organization has been able to help over 500 individuals with similar backgrounds through this therapy. Being able to creatively express yourself through other mediums is what we strive to teach others every day.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
When it comes to toxic stress and race-based trauma that is impacting the health and wellness of Black families specifically at higher rates than families of other ethnic groups, I believe it is important that our leaders allow the community to take lead. Trust us to be experts in our own experiences and culture so that we can speak the language of and be the faces that look like the community being served. They should also educate us, share the knowledge, the power, and the resources. Let us know how to take the steps to empower ourselves so we can teach each other. We have a proverb: “Each one, Teach One.” If the strongest and most able leaders are educated and well, then we have unlimited ability to pass on that wellness and knowledge. And finally, fund us! Provide us with the capital and technology and resources to compete with organizations and resources that were born into their resources and without hundreds of years of being behind in relationship building and foundation laying. If we are supported with education, funding, resources and we are in the front showing that we are safe, we are more likely to build the village that is needed to heal the intentional separation of the Black family.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is the ability to model accountability and make hard decisions. It is taking action and actually implementing it though action.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 things a person should know before they decide to start a non profit”. Please share a story or example for each.
- Non profit status does not mean automatic monetary support and funding. Oftentimes people think that once they become a non-profit organization, money starts rushing in. That is definitely not the case. It is imperative to have structure to maintain your organization’s growth.
- Passion for public service is what will keep you going. Belief that your mission will succeed no matter how hard it gets is necessary. Without passion, you will lose sight of your goal.
- “Ear hustle” when you’re surrounded by business peers. Listening to other pitches is the only way to learn how to pitch correctly. This way you will hear what works, what gets the attention of others, and who to go after.
- Learn your pitch and know who you are pitching to. You have to make yourself marketable so others will gravitate towards you and support your cause
- Take notes- when you write things down, they are retained in your brain longer. Think it, write it, speak it, claim it.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world who you would like to talk to, to share the idea behind your non profit? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Hi Oprah! I think everyone can look up to Oprah in some aspect. She supports black families. Let’s work together on maternal mental health, early childhood development, and whole family health. Let’s empower the black family by decreasing the stigma surrounding mental health issues and increase awareness of healthy coping strategies!
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson” Quote? How is that relevant to you in your life?
Two quotes that continue to inspire me each day are “be the change you want to see in the world” and “never take No for an answer.” I think these two quotes work hand in hand. I started my organization because I wanted better for those who were in tough situations. I want to teach others that we don’t have to just accept being unhappy. Also, starting an organization from the ground up comes with its own set of challenges. I have gotten countless “no’s” but I always try my hardest to turn it into an “absolutely.” I think it’s extremely important to have a true passion for your business, not just the idea that comes with it. Hardwork and determination are key to being successful.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your mission.
Nakeya T Fields of Therapeutic Play Foundation: 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Lead A… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.