Pay It Forward: Nayoka Griffis, ’19

Nayoka Griffis, ‘19


Fighting back tears, Nayoka Griffis pauses, searching for the words to convey the emotion etched on her face. “I have to be all that I am and was made to be, so that it frees you up to be all that you are and were made to be.” In one sentence, Griffis summed up perfectly her experience as a participant in the Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP).  

Experiencing a season of personal and professional challenges, a career change after 20 years of self-employment, and leaps of faith, Griffis found herself accompanying a friend to the MCLP graduation ceremony in April 2018. All she could imagine was seeing herself up on that stage, having completed the program herself. 

So Griffis set out to make that dream a reality. She knew the program tuition could potentially be a barrier to her, so she reached out to then Executive Director Linda Bollivar to inquire about the potential of financial assistance. 

Through the generosity of MCLP’s dedicated supporters, there was a scholarship available. It was awarded to Griffis, and she began her journey through the program.  

As she reflected on what receiving that scholarship meant to her, Griffis had this to say: “Think about a season in your life in which you had the full support of someone else—financially, emotionally, or whatever it might be. Having received that support, consider the impact it had on you. I feel the impact of the MCLP donors every day and I am so humbled and grateful.” 

Griffis considers herself to be an investor in people and, because of the investment that others have made in her through MCLP, she has grown as a leader and learned more about herself. Griffis is prepared to make a difference, both in her personal relationships and professional endeavors. 

 “MCLP is an opportunity to accept yourself as you are and to find meaningful ways to use your unique skills. We need a herd—shared experiences, mentors, colleagues—and MCLP gives us that real-time feedback and support.” 

Griffis is a light of positivity, faith, and strength, and her experience as a participant in the Multicultural Leadership Program has validated her love of learning and her commitment to continually work to better herself. 

Having graduated in April 2019, Griffis is now a class facilitator for the class of 2020—again, showcasing her commitment to invest in others. The time and energy that are required of a class facilitator (particularly someone who just completed the program herself) is a testament to Griffis’s selfless pursuit of making this community a better place to live and work.

MCLP is dedicated to supporting and developing diverse servant leaders in our community. This program would not be possible without the investment of individuals in our community who have witnessed the effect of these leaders and their commitment to inclusivity, self-awareness, and authenticity. 

To make your impact on the next generation of servant leaders, visit and make a gift today.  If you are interested in applying to join the Multicultural Leadership Program Class of 2021, look for our recruitment to go live in February of 2020 at There will be opportunities for scholarships, and questions can be sent to Executive Director Julie Emig at  

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