During Black History Month, CTI will be publishing profile features of local Black leaders to celebrate #LowellBlackExcellence. Check back regularly throughout the month as we hear from our leaders in their own words about their experiences, perspectives and wisdom as Black leaders in our local communities.
Nokuthula (“Thula”) Sibanda, Ph.D., Chief of Staff for the Department of Youth Services
By Carl Howell, CTI’s Chief Program Officer
CTI is honored to recognize the Chief of Staff for the Department of Youth Services, Nokuthula (“Thula”) Sibanda, Ph.D., during Black History Month for her leadership and dedication to the community.
Dr. Sibanda has been a vital voice and leader for youth across the Commonwealth and especially here in Lowell. She has impacted policy and services to provide more supportive services to youth engaged in the State’s juvenile justice system. She has been an advocate to build safer communities and collaborations for an equitable and fair system for our youth. In her work, she has a personal understanding of where the youth are coming from, “Their communities are my communities; I could have easily have been one of them.”
Dr. Sibanda believes Black History Month is a time to appreciate and acknowledge Black Excellence, both past and present. It is also a time where we honor those who have paved the way for us and to remember that the work is not yet done. She feels that we need to further our acknowledgment of Black Excellence and not limit it to just a month but emphasize it in everything communities do, and to make an effort to uplift the contributions that Black people have made throughout the year.
When asked what advice would she would give young people, she stated, “Own your voice and speak up against injustices that you encounter. You are the community! Embrace it and participate in activities that are focused on cultivating change.”
As a young Black woman in leadership, Dr. Sibanda has often found herself in rooms where no one looked like her. She was always the “other”, the anomaly, the one who watched others being referred to by their titles or credentials. She always wondered when someone would use her title or refer to her as “Dr. Sibanda”. She has been asked many times why she keeps showing up to those meetings. For her, the answer has always been, “As long as we have a disproportionate number of Black and Brown youth in detention facilities, then I will keep showing up because they do not have a choice but I have the opportunity to advocate and that’s what I continue to do.” Her advice to young Black leaders is to find what you are passionate about and keep showing up until the change takes place.
We are grateful for Dr. Sibanda’s commitment and passion for making our community and state a better place.
#CommunityLeader #Leadership #Appreciation #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackLivesMatter #DEIatCTI #grateful