2019 Onyx Woman Leadership Award Honoree, Shaunda McDill, is Living Her Dreams by Helping Others Pursue Theirs

The support of women has been invaluable in my life. From helping to keep me sane through the transparent sharing of our lived experiences to being nudged toward purpose, women have always been the bedrock. I grew up in a family of very strong women who “pulled no punches,” and I am indebted to them for teaching me to esteem, pursue, and proclaim my truth.

Shaunda McDill

Title: Program Officer, Arts & Culture

Company: The Heinz Endowments

Industry: Philanthropy

Years in this Industry: 1 year and 4 months

1. Why did you choose this profession? 

I decided to choose a mid-life quest instead of a crisis. I was seeking an opportunity that would be service-oriented and that would have generational impact. The Heinz Endowment’s aspirational vision of a Just Pittsburgh was very attractive to me. Serving creative organizations and artists through the allocation of financial capital, as well as other types of meaningful support, is a privilege. It is my hope that the work helps to catapult creatives toward fulfilling their purpose.

2. What role has the support of other women played in your success?

The support of women has been invaluable in my life. From helping to keep me sane through the transparent sharing of our lived experiences to being nudged toward purpose, women have always been the bedrock. I grew up in a family of very strong women who “pulled no punches,” and I am indebted to them for teaching me to esteem, pursue, and proclaim my truth.

3. What does receiving this award mean to you?

I am honored and humbled. While I am currently more obsessed with impact than elevation, I understand that I get to lift more people as I progress in purpose. Hopefully this award will open up more opportunities for me to serve. Also, to be honored by a woman that I have admired from afar is epic!

4. What advice would you give to other women who want to go into your field?

I would encourage the women to speak with people who are currently working in the field. In addition, there are a host of resources regarding Black professionals in philanthropy that they should read. Whether in the field of philanthropy or elsewhere, I would remind anyone that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” as Peter Drucker espouses. Think about the culture of the institution(s) you seek to be part of and make sure you are equipped. Put on the full armor! 

5. What would you tell other women about overcoming obstacles?

I would tell them to “consider it all joy…knowing that the testing of [their] faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1: 2-4)

6. What was the bravest thing that you have ever done that got you where you are today?

The bravest thing I ever did was to walk away from things I held dear when they threatened to destroy who I believe God was calling me to become. The choice to save my own life and to seek God above anyone and above all things is what keeps me growing from day to day and is what will continue to light the path to my tomorrows.

On May 4, 2019, we will be honoring Shaunda along with 18 other women who have been selected for their contributions to other women. For early registration, go to http://thenewnetworktv.com/vip-onyx-woman-leadership-award

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