Money Talks: Leveraging the power of business and philanthropy in pursuit of racial justice

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The Twin Cities boasts a vibrant philanthropic community, with many organizations focused on addressing racial disparities and creating more equitable communities. Added to that are numerous thriving businesses including Fortune 500 companies.

  • What role do these important sectors play in answering calls for racial justice?
  • How will they respond to calls for change?  
  • How do and should they intersect to create a web of support for eliminating institutional and systemic racism in society?


Photos of Kara Carlisle, Trista Harris, Jonathan Weinhagen, and Amelious N. Whyte, Jr.

Pictured L-R: Kara Carlisle, Trista Harris, Jonathan Weinhagen, Amelious Whyte

Kara Carlisle joined the McKnight Foundation in 2017 as vice president of programs. Since joining the Foundation, Carlisle has been supporting cross-program strategy and development, in particular exploring intersections across diversity, equity, and inclusion and community engagement as leverage points to drive greater impact across geographic and issue-specific areas. Previously, Carlisle spent eight years at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, MI, most recently as director of New Mexico Programs. She also served on Kellogg’s Civic and Philanthropic Engagement team, developing the first manual to inform the organization’s approach to place-based grantmaking. Before that, Carlisle held various positions in Los Angeles, including associate director at Zócalo Public Square Lecture Series, and director of public relations and director of the 4.29 dispute resolution center at the Korean American Coalition. She also oversaw personnel and fund development at the Koreatown Youth and Community Center, Inc. In addition, Carlisle served as president of the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission and as chair of the Empowerment Congress. She is a former board member of the National Association for Community Mediation in Washington, DC. Carlisle holds an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and an MDiv in urban studies and education from Claremont School of Theology.

Trista Harris is a philanthropic futurist and nationally known as a passionate advocate for leaders in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. Trista’s work has been covered by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Forbes, CNN, the New York Times, and numerous social sector blogs. She is also the co-author of the book How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar and the upcoming book FutureGood. She is a President of FutureGood, a consultancy focused on helping visionaries build a better future.

Chanda Smith Baker has over 20 years of experience working in, for, and with underestimated communities. In 2017, Chanda joined The Minneapolis Foundation as the Senior Vice President of Impact where she oversees the Foundation’s grantmaking programs, provides strategic direction to community initiatives and partnerships, and is the event and podcast host of Conversations with Chanda. Previously, Chanda was at Pillsbury United Communities where she led the complex community-based nonprofit to pursue bold strategies to address systemic inequities. She spent 17 years at the organization and served in a variety of leadership positions before assuming the role of President and CEO in 2011. Under her leadership as CEO, the organization launched several impactful efforts such as the purchased and relaunched North News and the opening North Market, a full-service grocery store in North Minneapolis. Chanda’s civic leadership has been recognized with several awards and commendations, including Minnesota Business Magazines’ Real Power 50 (2018); Minneapolis St Paul Business Journal Women in Business Honoree (2017); Hubert H. Humphrey Leadership Award (2014); and Minnesota Vikings Hometown Hero honoree (2011). Chanda has served on numerous nonprofit and philanthropic boards throughout her career. Today she serves as a Trustee at the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, board member of Regional Chamber of Commerce, CommonBond Community Inc, and Public Allies. Chanda is a proud native and current resident of North Minneapolis.

Jonathan Weinhagen is President and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber. He was elected to the Mounds View School Board in 2014 and currently serves as Chair. He is a member of the Economic Development Commission in the City of Shoreview, Past-President of the Mounds View Schools Education Foundation and is engaged in various other non-profit board and committee roles including Tubman, Center for Economic Inclusion and the Family Housing Fund. Jonathan completed a Policy Fellowship through the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs and earned his MBA and Bachelor’s degrees from Bethel University.

Amelious N. Whyte, Jr. is originally from Brooklyn, NY, and currently serves as the Director of Public Engagement for the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. Prior to this position, Amelious served in many roles at the University, working within the Office for Student Affairs and in the Office of the Board of Regents. Amelious has a BS in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, an MA in Public Affairs from the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education, also from the University of Minnesota. Amelious volunteers as the Education Director for the International Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta, serves on the boards of the Campus Club, the Weisman Art Museum, the Friends of the University Libraries, Clare House, and the Governor’s Residence Council, and is an Elections Judge. 

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