Voices of NBA: Black Women in Leadership
Over the summer, Dr. Norma Ellington-Twitty and Rev. Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick sat down to have a conversation about their work and experiences at NBA.
Moderated by Senior Marketing Associate, Brittany King, the conversation spanned a variety of topics including NBA’s history as a health and social service general ministry, issues of diversity and equity, and qualities in leadership. The conversation also served as a “passing the torch” moment between Ellington-Twitty and Kilpatrick. Ellington-Twitty joined the NBA in 1985 as the Vice President of Program Planning and Evaluation. At the time, she was the first Black woman to join the organization in an executive leadership role. Ellington-Twitty was moved to say ‘yes’ to this opportunity because she saw it as a way for the Black Disciples community to be included in the health and social service work of the denomination.
“My journey to NBA started in the 1950s. One day, I was walking past St. Louis Christian Home, NBA’s historic first agency serving children and youth, and I noticed this sign on the gate and our Disciples of Christ St. Andrew’s cross, yet the visual image that I had was one of white children playing in the yard. I thought ‘this is the church, but I don’t see myself represented,’” she explains. “Years later, in 1979, I was invited to serve on a joint NBA and National Convocation task force. To be honest, I didn’t really want to do it, but I remembered that moment outside of St. Louis Christian Home and thought to myself things haven’t changed since the ‘50s, but maybe if I get involved change can happen.”
A ‘yes’ to being on that task force led to her joining NBA’s Board of Trustees, which led to an executive leadership position at the organization. Ellington-Twitty’s work focused on program quality and program development for NBA’s housing agencies across the country.
Thirty years after Ellington-Twitty’s arrival at the NBA, Kilpatrick joined NBA’s staff in 2015 as the Disciples Care Exchange and Affinity Group Director. In the last two years, Kilpatrick now serves on the NBA executive leadership team. Her first executive leadership role was as the Associate Vice President of Organizational Development and now as the Vice President of Organizational & Leadership Development essentially overseeing and managing all of NBA’s mission programs. Kilpatrick is the second Black Disciples woman to hold this kind of executive leadership position at NBA, the first being Dr. Ellington-Twitty. During her conversation with Ellington-Twitty she acknowledged “If there was no Norma at NBA, there might not be a Monica…if you don’t see yourself represented, you don’t know if you can be it.”
The conversation concluded with the women sharing learnings and advice for those in the Black community interested in working within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The NBA is proud to have leaders and history makers in our midst like Dr. Ellington-Twitty and Rev. Kilpatrick. Watch the three-part video series of this conversation below!
Black Women in Leadership on NBA’s History
Black Women in Leadership on Leaders Who Inspire
Black Women in Leadership on Equity and Self Care