African American Leadership Forum

AALF Leadership

Board Co-Chairs:

2SBartley Portrait April 2016Dr. Sylvia Bartley- Medtronic, Inc. 

Dr. Sylvia Bartley is a Global Director in the Medical Education division for the Restorative Therapies Group at Medtronic’s PLC.  She is responsible for creating strategies to support early career physicians using brain, spine, orthopedics, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) and pelvic health therapies and products.  A native of England, Sylvia is a true global citizen, having lived in 3 and worked in over 20 countries with neurosurgeons to increase patient access to Medtronic’s Neuromodulation therapies. Since moving to Minnesota in 2010, she has devoted much of her time to educational initiatives focused on closing the achievement gap for African American students in the Twin Cities and creating educational equity for all children.  Sylvia holds leadership positions on the Board of Directors for the Harvest Network of School Charter Management Organization, the Twin Cities African American Leadership Forum and Achieve MPLS.  Her service to the community has been recognized with a 2014 Bush Foundation Fellowship, and the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Business Journal’s 2013 Diversity in Business Award for her outstanding contribution to education reform in the Twins Cities and her work at Medtronic.

CunnighamGary Cunningham- Meda

Gary Cunningham joined the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda) as President and CEO on August 18, 2014. Meda’s mission is to: Help entrepreneurs of color succeed.

Prior to joining Meda, Gary served as: Vice President and Chief Program Officer for the Northwest Area Foundation; President and Chief Executive Officer for NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center;  and Director of Planning and Development for Hennepin County, Minnesota, among other positions of influence and authority.

Gary earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University Kennedy School of Government in 1992 and a Bachelor of Arts from Metropolitan State University in 1991. Gary is married to Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and is the father of two children and the grandfather of four.

Gary presently serves as: the Council Member of the Metropolitan Council in the Twin Cities; Board member – Association of Black Foundation Executives; Trustee – Metropolitan State University Foundation; Fellow – National Academy of Public Administration; and Board member – Loppet Foundation. 


Nerita Hughes, Treasurer, Manager, Ramsey County Workforce Development

John Taylor, Secretary, Manager, Director of Supplier Diversity


Alex Tittle, Vice President, Super Bowl Host Committee

Billy Charvez Russel, Executive Director, Friendship Academy

Carolyn Smallwood, Executive Director, Way to Grow

Dr.Leadriane Roby, Assistant Superintendent, Richfield Public Schools

Maya Buckner, Social Worker, Harvest Preparatory Academy, Richfield Public Schools

Nazim Fakir, Pastor, St. Peter A.M.E. Church

Dr. Nkem Chirpich, CEO, TAP Diversity Navigators

Ravi Norman, CEO, Thor Construction

Rena Moran, Representative, Minnesota House

Stella Whitney-West, CEO, NorthPoint Health & Wellness

Raeisha Williams, Principal, DF Media Group – Marketing Specialists

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Jeffrey Hassan- Executive Director

On November 1, 2014, attorney Jeffrey A. Hassan agreed to become AALF’s Executive Director. Hassan will continue to direct the AALF towards its mission of full employment and building wealth, closing the achievement gap, affecting legislative policy and promoting healthy living in the Twin Cities African American Community.

Hassan brings 38 years of experience as a trial attorney, as well as having provided legal representation to organizations and institutions such as the Harvest Network of Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools, Metropolitan Council, Howard University, and Minneapolis and St. Paul Urban League. In the last years of his career, Hassan focused primarily on issues surrounding education. Hassan is a life-long resident of the Twin Cities and euphemistically refers to himself as being “International,” in that he has lived an equal number of years in Minneapolis and St. Paul. He graduated from Minneapolis Central High school, Macalester College, and the University of Minnesota Law School.