MDCR Celebrates Women’s History Month

2014-03-11-Womens-History-Month.pngMarch is Women’s History Month. It is a time for commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.  From Susan B. Anthony to Sojourner Truth to Gloria Steinem, suffragists and activists have made their mark on history in their mission to achieving equality.

This month the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights will celebrate the accomplishments of women that have made great contributions both to society and the women’s rights movement. Please follow us on Facebook to see new posts throughout the month, or follow the hashtag #MDCRCelbratesWomensHistoryMonth.

You can find information regarding celebrations and events along with links to resources related to Women’s History Month below.



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Future History Maker

BHM

Black History Month

History. Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.  We also recognize the kinship of their work to those who are legacy trailblazers.  Thus, in a brief question and answer profile, we uniquely celebrate the past, present, and future.


Future History Maker 


george
Future History Maker Devean George is regarded as a hometown hero who made it big in the NBA and then returned to his north Minneapolis roots as a community organizer and nonprofit housing developer. Born in 1977 in Minneapolis, Devean attended high school at Benilde-St. Margaret’s and went on to become a standout basketball player at Augsburg College. In 1999, he made history when he became the first-ever NCAA Division III basketball player selected in the first round (23rd overall pick) of the NBA draft. Throughout his 11-year career in the NBA, Devean played for the Los Angeles Lakers (with whom he won three NBA Championships), the Dallas Mavericks, and the Golden State Warriors.

Near the end of his playing career, George had a vision for his future. It included real estate and bettering people’s lives. George says “I wanted to become a person that helped people. There are a lot of people who suffer that aren’t involved in the bad stuff going on. I figured out that playing basketball was not the end goal. I figured out that playing basketball was probably just to set up for what I’m doing now.”

Today, retired from the NBA, Devean remains committed to positively impacting the North Minneapolis community that shaped and supported him. His desire to give back was the driving force behind the formation of George Group North, his real-estate company specializing in multifamily residential development, mixed-use projects, and property redevelopment and management, and its charitable subsidiary, Building Blocks, which is focused on mentorship programming, affordable housing, and sustainable community development.

After working to rehabilitate individual homes and apartments, 2012 Building Blocks proposed Commons on Penn, a 47-unit affordable housing apartment complex at 2201 Golden Valley Road. It opened in 2015 after receiving financial assistance from the city, Hennepin County, the Metropolitan Council, the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and several philanthropic donors.

George believes the work he is doing will serve as a foundation for transforming lives in the North Minneapolis community. He says, “Housing is the foundation for anything else that you want to do in life.  Without stable housing people aren’t worried about education, eating healthy or anything else.” George who’s already broken barriers in the sporting arena is perfectly positioned to continue that tradition now empowering lives and developing communities.

 

Most Rewarding Work Experience 

Completing the 47 units at Commons At Penn, because it was incredibly difficult to complete. And the positive testimonials I get from the family’s living there about how it has touched them and their kids’ lives. Also, the love I receive from the community. 

What Inspires You

I am inspired by achieving success. I  feel really good when I reach the goals I’ve set for myself.  Overtime I’ve realized that I can only control me and my work ethic, so I set goals I can attain and celebrate when I do.

Advice for Aspiring Professionals

Keep fighting through the tough times because they will come. It makes the end so much sweeter. I see so many people give up when times get hard in whatever they’re doing, and they don’t realize the finish line is so close.

Hometown

  • Minneapolis, MN 

Education

  • Augsburg College, BA 

Legacy Leader


coraLike Devean George, today’s Legacy Leader,  Cora McCorvey  is a respected leader who lead the charge to create affordable housing for community. 
Cora McCorvey was the first executive director of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority after the agency separated from the City of Minneapolis in 1991. On Feb. 10, 2017 she retired after 25 years leading the MPHA and 40 years in public service. Under McCorvey’s leadership, MPHA became a place where thousands of families call home. She is credited with creating one of the most diverse workforces in Minneapolis with more than 50 percent of her staff comprised of people of color. Seven out of the past 10 years, MPHA has been recognized by the National Association of Minority Contractors as Affiliate of the Year.  Cora McCorvey is a visionary and a leader who has made a lasting impact on the communituy. 

 

 

 

 

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Future History Maker

BHM

Black History Month

History. Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.  We also recognize the kinship of their work to those who are legacy trailblazers.  Thus, in a brief question and answer profile, we uniquely celebrate the past, present, and future.


Future History Maker 

eleshia-picFuture History Dr. Eleshia J Morrison is an assistant professor of psychology, and clinical health psychologist at the Mayo Clinic Adult Pain Rehabilitation Center.  Dr. Morrison is a young professional who uses who passion for medicine and helping others to explore ways for removing barriers to equity.

As a young girl Dr. Morrison was very much inspired by her parents’ and grandparents’ work ethic and their approach to enjoying life.  Her parents immigrated to Canada from the Caribbean for greater educational and employment opportunities. Morrison says, “My family members value education and modeled hard work, but also there was a lot of laughter and love in my family. This encouraged me to obtain an education, but also strive for a balanced life of enjoying diverse experiences.”

Dr. Morrison, a native of Toronto, Canada moved to Minnesota in 2014. Dr. Morrison completed her doctoral degree in clinical health psychology at The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH), followed by a clinical internship at Rush University Medical Center (Chicago, IL), and a postdoctoral fellowship in Medical Psychology at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN).  

Today as a clinical health psychologist Dr. Morrison researches health disparity/diversity factors impacting illness trajectories and health behaviors. In addition, Dr. Morrison’s clinical work has been with individuals with acute and chronic illness, with specialty in oncology, chronic pain, and organ transplantation. Dr. Morrison also spends a significant amount of time training and mentoring medical students, residents, and fellows in learning about psychosocial factors impacting illness and the delivery of evidence-based psychological treatments.

While Dr. Morrison is just beginning her career she as all the makings of a bright future. Moreover, Dr. Morrison’s drive and ambition  is complemented by a passion for helping others. Dr. Morrison says, “As a clinical health psychologist, I often meet people when they are at their most vulnerable, physically and psychologically. I am thankful to be able to help someone shift from experiencing hopelessness to feeling hopeful about what lies ahead. To be a part of such a transformation is truly a privilege.”

 

Most Rewarding Work Experience 

Some of my most rewarding work experiences are two-fold-being able to work with compassionate colleagues every day and seeing individuals’ lives improve through interventions that are designed to improve functionality and get people back to living life in spite of their health challenges.  

What Inspires You

I am greatly inspired by my family-they are a blessing. While I find my work to be important, valuable, and fulfilling, it is my family life that provides ultimate meaning and balance to my life. There is value in being able to find meaning in personal relationships in order to experience a sense of a balanced existence.

Advice for Aspiring Professionals

My general advice is to always pursue what you enjoy. We all have talents and abilities, but they don’t always necessarily coincide with our passions. There is a great deal of work that goes into building a professional career. Being able to say that you genuinely and thoroughly enjoy your learning, training, and work life makes the inevitable challenges and barriers easier to manage.

Hometown

  • Toronto, Canada

Education

  • Clinical Health PsychologyMayo Clinic College of Medicine, Postdoctoral Fellowship –
  • The Ohio State University, Ph.D. – Psychology (Clinical)
  • The Ohio State University, MA –  Psychology (Clinical)
  • McGill University, BS- Psychology

Legacy Leader


WilliamsLike Dr. Morrison, today’s Legacy Leader, Dr. John Williams was a respected civic leader. Dr. John Williams was born in 1945 in Jackson, Mississippi, and was raised in Toledo, Ohio, where he was an All-City athlete in both football and basketball. He was heavily recruited by numerous colleges, but attended the University of Minnesota, where he was a star football player. In 1967, he was named as a First Team All–Big Ten tackle and was instrumental in the Gophers winning the Big Ten title that year.

In 1968, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education and became the first-round draft pick for the Baltimore Colts. He was an offensive lineman for the Colts, playing in the Super Bowl twice, and winning Super Bowl V.  Dr. Williams also played for the Los Angeles Rams and went to Super Bowl XIV with them. During the off-season, he worked on a doctorate of dental surgery degree from the University of Maryland. After playing professional football for 12 years, he moved back to Minnesota to open a dental practice.

Dr. Williams opened his dentist’s office on West Broadway, practicing in north Minneapolis for almost 25 years. He leveraged his education and influence to increase access to health care in minority communities; working to eliminate health care disparities. Dr. Williams won the Minneapolis volunteer of the year award in 1992 and for almost two decades was active in leading a prison ministry team. He served as president of the West Broadway Business Association and a board member of the Minneapolis Urban League. 

Dr. Williams was trained in forensic dentistry and was a member of the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, a program of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Following the September 11th tragedy in New York City, he participated on the identification team at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office. Dr. Williams was appointed in 2002 by Gov. Jesse Ventura and reappointed twice by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.  Dr. Williams was a highly regarded leader who deeply cared for the North Minneapolis community. 

 

 

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Future History Maker

BHM

Black History Month

History. Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.  We also recognize the kinship of their work to those who are legacy trailblazers.  Thus, in a brief question and answer profile, we uniquely celebrate the past, present, and future.


Future History Maker 

 

susanFuture History Maker Susan Bass Roberts is Vice President/Executive Director of The Pohlad Family Foundation. Roberts is a result driven leader who has a passion for empowering community. Roberts serves as a role model to future generations who spends a considerable amount of time giving back, both personally and professionally. 

A native of Columbus, Ohio,  Bass Roberts is a graduate of the Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations. Throughout her career Bass Roberts has acquired experience in philanthropy, community relations and communications. Early on Bass Roberts owned a boutique agency specializing in foundation management, community outreach and communications strategy for professional athletes.  After much success Roberts was tapped as Vice President of Communications and Community Relations for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, where she managed public relations, community relations and the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation.

More recently, Bass Roberts served as Senior Director of Community Relations/Diversity & Inclusion for Best Buy, where she directed all charitable contributions and community involvement. She also worked with Best Buy leadership to create a culture where diversity and inclusion were key differentiators. Today, as Executive Director of the Pohlad Foundation Bass Roberts oversees all aspects of the foundation’s giving and community outreach activities, working closely with family members representing both the second and third generations of the Pohlad family.

Throughout her career, Bass Roberts has received several honors, including being named to Business First Magazine’s “40 Under 40,” and winning two “Beacon Awards” from The Cable Television Public Affairs Association. Roberts is  actively involved in strengthening communities. She’s previously served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations in Columbus, Atlanta and the Twin Cities. She currently serves on the boards of The Minnesota Council on Foundations, The Minneapolis YWCA, and Breck School.

 

Most Rewarding Work Experience 

I have worked in community relations and philanthropy for most of my career, and found the work to be rewarding at each stop along the journey.  Whether it has been in creating initiatives to address family violence at the Limited Foundation, or helping underserved children through the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation, to now working to improve life on the Northside of Minneapolis in my current role,  I have been blessed with a career that includes helping people. 

What Inspires You

I am inspired by people who take whatever life gives them and make the most of it.  I have seen people emerge victorious from some of the most difficult situations, and it inspires me to keep going.  My late mother was a single parent with a high school education, and we did not have much.  But she built a stable life for us.  She told me I could become anything I wanted to be if I worked hard and believed in myself.  I still hear her voice today, and when I do, I’m inspired to be better and to do more for young people, especially those who are growing up like I did.

Advice for Aspiring Professionals

I would advise young people to work really hard in school and go to college.  Higher education opens so many doors to new experiences, opportunities and people who are also pursuing their dreams.  It’s not just the degree that’s important, but the total experience that expands the possibilities for your life.  I would also tell them to persevere in the face of obstacles and remain positive.  Life is hard, and learning to become an adult can be even more difficult.  But you have to push through difficulties and get to the other side. Never give up on your dreams. 

Hometown

  • Columbus, Ohio

Education

  • Ohio State University, BA

Legacy Leader

 

carlsonLike Roberts, today’s Legacy Leader Emmett D. Carson, is a proven leader who guides plantorphic organizations to do their best work.  Emmett D. Carson, Ph.D. is the founding CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. An international thought leader in the field of philanthropy, in 2006 he led the unprecedented merger of two community foundations, creating SVCF. With a growth in assets from $1.7 billion in 2007 to $8.2 billion by the end of 2016, SVCF is the nation’s largest community foundation. SVCF’s 2,000 family and corporate donor funds support a wide range of causes in the Bay Area, across the nation and around the world.

Before this, Carson had a distinguished 12-year career as CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation and, prior to that oversaw the Ford Foundation’s U.S. and global grantmaking program on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. Emmett has published more than 100 works on philanthropy and is an authority on issues of social justice, public accountability and African American giving. He is consistently recognized as one of the most influential nonprofit leaders in the U.S. and has honorary degrees from Indiana University, Morehouse College, Becker College and The National Hispanic University. Emmett received both his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in public and international affairs from Princeton University and his bachelor’s degree in economics, Phi Beta Kappa, from Morehouse College.

 

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Future History Maker

BHM

Black History Month

History. Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.  We also recognize the kinship of their work to those who are legacy trailblazers.  Thus, in a brief question and answer profile, we uniquely celebrate the past, present, and future.


Future History Maker 

Sondra Samuels_High Res.jpgFuture History Maker Sondra Samuels is the President & CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), a collaborative of over 40 partner non-profits and schools.  Along with parents, students, partners and staff, Samuels is leading a revolutionary culture shift in North Minneapolis that is focused on ending multigenerational poverty through education and family stability.

While the NAZ Collaboration is relatively new, formed in 2008, Samuels has long been a staple in the North Minneapolis Community. Samuels and her husband (Don) moved to North Minneapolis with a desire to immerse themselves in community. Samuels quickly became active organizing for progress. She began with gathering together small groups of neighbors for block meetings to address ongoing issues of community unrest and violence. Building on this work Samuels took on leadership roles in the Jordan Area Neighborhood Association and was instrumental in convincing her husband to represent the North Side on the Minneapolis City Council.

Samuels’ passion for cultivating change in her community led her to launch a non-profit organization, PEACE Foundation, which built a grassroots movement across race, class and geography toward the common goal of significantly reducing violence in North Minneapolis. The PEACE foundation was immensely successful in uplifting community and Samuels quickly gained the respect of her peers. Samuels viewed the issue of community violence with a fresh perspective. She says, “If a person has no future or vision, then they are going to pick up a gun. If they instead have a community encouraging them to be successful and providing them with the resources necessary to accomplish such, things will be different.” 

In 2008 the North Minneapolis community, desperate for real change and inspired by the results of the Harlem Children’s Zone, pulled together to explore solutions to the seemingly intractable issues that plagued the neighborhood.  From this developed an achievement-focused model that creates a permanent solution to the “cradle to prison/grave pipeline”—and builds a roadmap for sustainable community transformation. As a result of Samuels’ proven leadership, the community called on her for this work, and as a result NAZ was created.

Today the NAZ Collaborative is working toward a single goal—to prepare low-income North Minneapolis children to graduate from high school ready for college. NAZ has scaled up in support of over 1,000 parents and 2,300 students as they turn the social service model on its head and lead the creation of a college-bound culture throughout the community.

Samuels, her staff and their partners, work tirelessly to ensure the integration of effective cradle-to-career solutions across the NAZ collaborative; to scale and sustain results across the community, and to achieve the systems and policy changes needed for low income families and children of color to truly share in the prosperity of the Twin Cities Region. Under her leadership, NAZ was named a federal Promise Neighborhood, and has become a nationally recognized model for community and systems change. Samuels serves on the leadership team of Generation Next, (a Strive Initiative); the boards of Minnesota Private College Council, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, and the 2018 Super Bowl Host Committee Advisory Board. She was also appointed by Governor Dayton to serve on the Hennepin County Forth Judicial Selection Commission.

Most Rewarding Work Experience 

Being a partner in the NAZ Collaborative. My involvement with NAZ has been a dream come true. When my husband and I first moved to Minneapolis we didn’t have a plan or agenda, but instead a desire to help. We let the community drive what we needed to do.  I’m grateful that the community has embraced me and my work. 

What Inspires You

The mothers, fathers, and children of the Northside. I’m inspired by their ability to push past life’s obstacles and seek out success. I see people who are not afforded the privileges of education or economic opportunity like I am get up and take on the world with bold confidenc, and serve as role models to others. My community is made up of awesome people and I am blessed to be a part of it.

Advice for Aspiring Professionals

Every generation out of relative obscurity must discover its’ mission, fulfill it or betray it.  (Franz Fanon- African Philosopher) 

Value and honor people you work with, for, and whom you serve, like your life depended on it.

Hometown

  • Scotch Plains, NJ

Education

  • Morgan State University, BA
  • Clark Atlanta University, MA

Legacy Leader
bill green.jpg

 

Like Samuels, today’s Legacy Leader William D. Green is an dedicated community leader who marries history and education to empower the communities he serves. Green was born in Massachusetts and as a child spent a lot of time at Fisk University where his father was dean.   During this time Green was able to meet such luminaries as W.E.B. Du Bois and Thurgood Marshall. These experiences help shape Green’s love of history and passion for impacting change.

Green is a well-respected and familiar leader in the Twin Cities community. Green served as superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools from 2006 to 2010. In this role he was credited for restoring public confidence in this Minneapolis School District’s ability to educate its’ children. Today, Green is a professor of history at Augsburg College. Green is also an award winning author who has published many articles and  op-ed pieces, on history, law, and education.  He has also published two books on race and civil rights in Minnesota history-A Peculiar Imbalance in Early Minnesota: 1837-1869, and Degrees of Freedom. The Origin of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865-1914, which won the 2015 Minnesota Book Award-Hognander Prize. He is presently working on a history of Minnesota during the period of the Civil war and Reconstruction.

Green received his B.A. in History from Gustavus Adolphus College, and his M.A., Ph.D. and J.D. from the University of Minnesota. He has spoken widely at such places as the Ramsey County Bar Association; Bethel Lutheran Church, the Friends of the Ramsey County Library; Unity Unitarian Universalist Church in St. Paul, and William Mitchell Law School. He has also lectured at Peabody College-Vanderbilt University, St. John’s University, and Lincoln College-Oxford University. While serving as Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools, he studied school reform at Harvard University. Green currently serves as vice president of the Minnesota Historical Society.

 

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Future History Maker

BHM

Black History Month

History. Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.  We also recognize the kinship of their work to those who are legacy trailblazers.  Thus, in a brief question and answer profile, we uniquely celebrate the past, present, and future.


Future History Maker 

coxFuture History Maker Roderick Cox is breaking barriers in Minnesota, and inspiring future generations to surpass any and all limitations. Recognized as one of America’s fastest rising young conducting talents, Cox currently serves as the Assistant Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, a position to which he was appointed in April 2015. 

A native of Macon, Georgia, Cox grew up in the heart of Georgia football country and family engaged in sports. However, even at a young age Cox sought to chart a different path. He would spend time in his room playing gospel records and imagining himself as a conductor. As a young student Cox explored his love for music as a percussionist and French horn player at a fine-arts high school in Macon. Yet, at the time Cox did not foresee a career as a conductor, instead he thought he would perhaps become a band director or music teacher. Later as an undergraduate student at Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music, Cox was inspired by symphony performances and decided there were pieces he would like to conduct that would not be possible as a band director.  Not wanting to limit himself, Cox decided to make the sacrifice and put in the hard work necessary to accomplish his goals.

In 2009, he received a bachelor of music degree in music education from Columbus State University, graduating summa cum laude. Cox later received a master’s degree in conducting from Northwestern University.  After graduating from Northwestern University, Cox served two years as the music director of the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra and the assistant conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. In this position he led the symphony in new works by contemporary composers Gabriel Kahane, Andrew Norman and Henry Panion. During this time he was awarded the Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize from the Aspen Music Festival in 2013, which led to national recognition and a return to the festival as a fellow.

Now as Assistant Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, Cox has a range of responsibilities from leading Young People’s Concerts, family programs and outdoor community concerts to serving as cover conductor for many classical subscription and “Live at Orchestra Hall” concert performances. During the 2015-16 season, Cox made his conducting debut with the National Symphony (Washington, D.C.), Detroit Symphony, Nashville Symphony, and Florida Orchestra. Cox was selected by the League of American Orchestras as one of five conductors to present in the 2016 Bruno Walter National Conducting Preview, a prestigious showcase for young conductors from around the country. Cox’s highlights for the 2016-2017 season includes a subscription concert debut with the Minnesota Orchestra, debut concerts with The Cleveland Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, and Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra. Cox also conducted a performance sponsored by Google and the Colour of Music Festival for the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington D.C.

Cox is passionate about his music and uses his influence to make an impact on community. Cox seeks to challenge the European monopoly in classical music. Cox says, “As one of the very few African-American conductors in the world, unlike some of my colleagues, I have to think about how to inspire young African-American musicians.”  He supports initiatives that support black string players. He thinks critically about issue of diversity and inclusion and wants to ensure black string players have the opportunity to play in orchestra, or become soloists.  Cox’s work is focused on connecting young string players with managers, agents, orchestras to help bridge that gap.

Acting on this passion, Cox recently led the Minnesota Orchestra in a debut performance at Minneapolis’ Shiloh Temple International Ministries in North Minneapolis. Cox performance was an inspiration to many, particularly young people who aspire to advance in the music field. Cox continues to serve as a key link to the community, participating in engagement activities, school visits and collaborations with other Minnesota arts and cultural institutions.

Most Rewarding Work Experience 

My classical subscription debut concert with the Minnesota Orchestra was quite the rewarding experience for me. A marquee concert with one of the nation’s best conductor is something every young conductor dreams about. For me, it became reality, and now I feel I can turn a corner by setting new goals for myself.

I worked extremely hard over the course of a year to prepare the music. However, I really used what felt like a lifetime of experience to help with my approach to the concert. 

What Inspires You

The music motives me. The music is bigger than any one person or organization.  In the midst of any disappointment, the music is dependable and is something I can always return to for inspiration to continue onward. Music keeps me grounded, but also pushes me to work harder to tap into a greater potential.

I’m inspired by examples of great leadership. I have many people who inspire me from Serena Williams to Barack Obama. Anyone who is in a high pressure position of leadership and doing the best they can inspires me to pick myself up and keep going.

Advice for Inspiring Professionals

I chose to be a part of an elusive profession. There is no path that is the same for any conductor. If someone is seeking a life as a professional musician, I would advise them not to do it if they can imagine themselves doing anything else. You can’t want to be a musician; you have to need to be one. This is the only way you will have enough hunger and determination to fight and claw your way to the top. Once your decision has been made to pursue a career in music, there should be no turning back. There should be no distractions and allow nothing to prohibit you from reaching your dream.

Hometown

  • Macon, Georgia

Education

  • Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music, BA
  • Northwestern University, Masters of Conducting

 


Legacy Leader

bellamy_louLike Cox, today’s Legacy Leader Lou Bellamy is an artistic pioneer who broke through barriers and serves as a role model to future generations. Lou Bellamy is the founder and Co-Artistic Director of Penumbra Theatre Company in Saint Paul, Minnesota. During his thirty-nine year tenure, Penumbra evolved into one of America’s premier theaters dedicated to dramatic exploration of the African American experience. Under his leadership, Penumbra grew to be the largest theater of its kind in America and produced 39 world premieres. 

Bellamy is an OBIE Award-winning director, an accomplished actor, and for 38 years was appointed as Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. Directing credits include plays at Arizona Theatre Company, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Penumbra Theatre, Signature Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Cleveland Play House, Indiana Repertory Theatre, The Guthrie Theater, The Kennedy Center, and Hartford Stage Company.

Bellamy was born and raised in the Rondo district of St. Paul Minnesota.  He received his bachelor’s degree at Minnesota State University-Mankato and received his masters in theater arts at the University of Minnesota.

 

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Future History Maker

BHM

Black History Month

History. Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.  We also recognize the kinship of their work to those who are legacy trailblazers.  Thus, in a brief question and answer profile, we uniquely celebrate both the past, present, and future.


Future History Maker 

baker-smithFuture History Maker Chanda Smith Baker is an accomplished senior executive with a career record of providing business insight, transformational leadership, and strategic vision leading to strengthened operational performance, innovative solutions and high performing teams. To translate – Baker is a leader who gets things done.

Baker’s career began in early childhood education. A mother and entrepreneur, Baker was very involved in the at-home provider community. She managed her own daycare and supported other at-home providers in developing and sustaining their business. It was through this experience that Baker developed a passion for children and families.

Today, Baker serves as President and CEO of Pillsbury United Communities, responsible for 130 employees and the operations of five neighborhood centers, a training center and eight social enterprises. Baker says, “I was raised with an orientation of contributing to community as a way of life. As a young person I was always keenly aware of the challenges that my community faced. I grew up in North Minneapolis and I always felt very passionate about uplifting what’s best in the community while working to tackle the challenges.”

Baker leads with an unwavering focus on closing racial disparities and measuring outcomes—boldly pushing Pillsbury United Communities to become more focused, more creative, and to include the voice of community in its solutions that allow for the emergence of new ideas.  In 2014, she led a planning process that resulted in a new strategic framework titled; “One Pillsbury, United – our plan for creating thriving communities.”  This led to securing over $1 Million dollars to implement Pillsbury United Communities organizational strategies.

Recently Baker led Pillsbury United’s gun buy-back initiative where residents were urged to surrender firearms in exchange for Visa gift cards. The guns were decommissioned and given to Twin Cities’ artists to create statements about the impact of gun violence in the community. The buy-back initiative was an undisputed success and one in which Baker was personally invested. Baker says, “My cousin Kristopher Miller was shot and killed the same week I was named CEO of Pillsbury United. Last year was the fifth anniversary of his death. The buy-back program was a result of me taking something that affected me personally and looking for a way to make an impact on community violence.” Baker believes there are too many Minnesotans losing their lives to street violence, suicide, domestic violence and accidental shootings.  She says, “I am  not willing to look the other way, believing that there’s nothing we can do—but rather I’m committed to doing my part to make our community safer. We have a public health crisis with gun violence. It affects all of us, and we all must be part of the solution.”

In addition to her work with Pillsbury United Communities, Baker is a member of the boards of directors of the Greater Twin Cities United Way, the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, Public Allies National, the International Federation of Settlements, and CommonBond Communities. Baker sits on the national advisory board of the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification. She has received several recognitions including the Hubert H. Humphrey Leadership Award, and in 2012 she was a Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal Diversity in Business honoree. Baker was recognized as a  Hometown Hero in 2011 for her role leading the recovery efforts following a tornado in North Minneapolis.

Baker holds a Master of Arts – Organizational Management and Communications degree from Concordia University. She is also a graduate of MenTTium 100 Executive Leadership Program and the University of Michigan Ann Arbor’s Executive Leadership Institute.

Most Rewarding Work Experience 

My most rewarding experience was receiving my masters from Concordia College. I went through this program while working and parenting, and this was not easy. Obtaining an advanced degree help propell my career and provided me with an opportunity to marry my lived experiences with formal training and technique.

What Inspires You

I am inspired by the success of others and my children of course.

Advice for Aspiring Professionals

My best advice is to invest in your own development. Embrace who you are as a leader, read, stay committed to professional development and support others success.

Hometown

  • Minneapolis, MN

Legacy Leader

myrtleLike Baker, today’s Legacy Leader I. Myrtle Carden, was a zealous community advocate committed to  empowering children and families. When black families from St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood needed basic services or just a place to hang out, they turned to I. Myrtle Carden.  Carden led the Hallie Q. Brown Community House, a social-service agency inspired by the era’s settlement house movement. Named after an Ohio educator who led the establishment of black women’s clubs across the country, Hallie Q. Brown soon became St. Paul’s second-largest neighborhood center.

Carden, a social worker from Pittsburgh, mentored a generation of young girls shut out from white school groups and social programs. Among other activities, teenage girls taught nutrition and home economics to other teens. Carden served as executive director of the Hallie Q Brown community Center for 20 years, from its founding in 1929 to 1949.

In Minneapolis, Carden’s ideological counterpart was W. Gertrude Brown, who ran the Phyllis Wheatley House, a magnet for famous guests such as Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Marian Anderson and W.E.B. DuBois.

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