Fairfax Co. native celebrates first Black women who climb the corporate ladder via film

This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference from our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.

Shannon Nash is a Fairfax County native and part of an organization called Black Women On Boards. (Courtesy Shannon Nash)

The tale of the woman who paved the way for Black women to serve on corporate boards is now a movie.

Shannon Nash is an Annandale, Virginia, native and the executive producer of the film “OnBoard: Story of Black Women On Boards.”

It tells the story of the first African American woman to sit on a corporate board, Patricia Roberts Harris, who was also a dean at Howard University’s School of Law. It follows the journey of the incredible women who are part of an organization called Black Women On Boards.

Nash says the organization was born out of a Zoom meeting in 2021 initiated by Merline Saintil and Robin Washington, who were trying to get more women of color on corporate boards because they were what Nash called “over-boarded” and wanted to pass those opportunities on to other women in their network.

Nash says she was part of that meeting of 18 women that, over the next six months, was so successful that all of the women got on boards.

The meeting led to the organization, then to the film, of which Nash is the executive producer and producer.

It’s also directed by award-winner Deborah Riley Draper. The film was premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year and was also a winner at the 2023 Essence Film Festival.

Nash says many people don’t understand the power of corporate boards. According to Nash, a lot of people don’t know that boards hire and fire CEOs.

She says a board’s number one job is to help a company with its strategy.

Nash told WTOP why it’s important for Black women to have a seat at the corporate table: “Boards need to hear diverse perspectives because they are serving a customer base. A lot of times that customer base itself is diverse and so the people sitting at that table should also be diverse.”

Nash’s contribution to Black women in corporate America also includes bringing drone technology to the masses.

“I feel like I’m living the real life ‘Jetsons,'” she said.

As CFO of Wing, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, she says they operate in three continents and have done over 350,000 deliveries via drone. She says the number one thing people order is coffee — Nash says it’s quick, it’s hot and it’s fresh.

Nash, who received her undergraduate and law school degrees from the University of Virginia, says she tells young people, including her three boys, that it’s never too early to begin networking and to developing those relationships because she says a lot of those people “will turn into mentors, supporters, your own board of directors.”

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the film has been released to the public on Vimeo. Go to onboardthefilm.com to access the link.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant is an Anchor and Reporter for WTOP. Over the past 20 years, Stephanie has worked in several markets, including Baltimore, Washington, Houston and Charleston, holding positions ranging from newscaster to morning show co-host.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up