Announcing the Minnesota Trust Black Women and Girls Town Hall Report

Amplifying the Voices of Black Women and Girls Across the Twin Cities!

MINNEAPOLIS, October 1, 2019 — The African American Leadership Forum (AALF) is excited to announce the release of the Minnesota Trust Black Women and Girls Town Hallreportauthored by Dr. Brittany Lewis (Chair, Minnesota Trust Black Women & Girls Planning Committee) and Robin Wonsley (University of Minnesota Graduate Student)! We’d like to thank everyone who participated, including the Testifiers, Contextualizers, Commissioners, Community Partners, and Attendees!

The town hall was created in 2018 when Dr. Brittany Lewis, The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), and Hope Community, Inc., partnered with the national African American Policy Forum (AAPF) to bring the Breaking the Silence town hall series to Minneapolis and St. Paul. The 2019 Town Hall committee collaborated with more than 25 Black women leaders across the Twin Cities to plan and implement this year’s one-day summit, held at the Walker Art Center in April. The town hall brought together over 200 community participants to amplify the voices of Black women and girls around key issues (such as housing, education, criminal justice, and health & wellness) and to highlight policy solutions that facilitate change. Black women and girls were given unprecedented opportunities to share their stories and experiences with local decisionmakers and leaders, and the event provided platforms for African American female vendors and performing artists.

The town hall planning committee was devoted to making sure its efforts went well beyond this one-day summit. All 16 commissioners who signed on and attended the town hall hearing were asked to reconvene for an intentional policy action roundtable 60 days after the summit. The commissioners were given 60 days to exchange notes, discuss and analyze their current policies and spheres of influence, and be prepared to share a one-page document in June outlining specific actions they will take to improve the lives of Black women and girls. Nine commissioners attended and presented their action plans.  

About AALF

Founded in 2006, the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) is a data-driven, people-empowered movement of over 1,500 African Americans who self-identify as Thought Leaders, Influencers, Builders, and Ambassadors. Collaboratively, these leaders volunteer their time, talents and treasure to help AALF build a more just, healthy society that works better for all of us. We connect African American businesses, people, and industries by creating spaces that empower the Black community to share ideas, celebrate and work together to bring about change. AALF was started by corporate, political, and nonprofit leaders in the African American community for the African American community.

Because of this, we are uniquely positioned to build relationships and work across organizational boundaries to push and pull specific levers designed to bring more interest and investment to the major economic, health, and education disparities facing the African American community.

Convenings (Event & Forums)

Our free Monthly CONNECT events encourage everyone in the community to play a role in taking steps to improve the lives of African Americans and connect with each other. Other AALF events, such as our Annual Gala Celebration and Baraza, bring the Black community together to learn more about the strides we’ve made and the work we still have left to do. This year’s gala, Collaboration: The Four Personas of Leadership, willtake place at the University of Minnesota (McNamara Alumni Center) in October and will be led by a dynamic panel of African American leaders from across the Twin Cities, including: Caroline Wanga (Target Corporation), Al McFarlane (Insight Media), Shawntera M. Hardy (founder of PolicyGrounds Consulting), and Reuben Moore (Minnesota Community Care). AALF will also present African American leaders, activists, and changemakers with Community Awards based on nominations received from Minnesota residents and others from across the country. The Baraza, “A Black Woman’s Health Event,” will take place at the NorthPoint Conference Center in October. The one-day conference, Young, Healthy, and Black, will focus on supporting better health outcomes for African and African American girls in Minnesota between the ages of 13 and 18. Local social innovator & entrepreneur Maya Marchelle will be the event’s keynote speaker.

Collective Impact Work: Task Force & Work Streams

AALF’s Collective Impact work is informed by the principles of human-centered design and comprised of two distinct parts: The Task Force and Work Streams. The Black leaders and community activists who participate in our Task Force and Work Streams are considered Network contributors, these are individuals who volunteer their time, talent, and treasure to AALF’s work and actively engage with us in our efforts to improve the lives of African Americans in Minnesota. The Task Force is a group of 12 dynamic African American leaders from across the Twin Cities, who are chosen through an application and interview process to strategize and set a Black vision around four focus areas: Education, Health & Wellness, Economic Development, and Family & Culture. Over a period of 10 months, these individuals help identify the priorities that the Work Streams will build upon; homing in on the most pressing issues facing the Black community and taking action.

The Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy is a six-month hands-on path to personal and professional discovery directed by facilitators, mentors, developmental tools, and experiential learning opportunities. Each fellow builds a vocabulary for articulating their purpose and passion in a way that leads to impactful change. The skills developed through this program serve as a launching pad for exercising leadership in Collective Impact projects.The overall goal of the academy is to accelerate the leadership development journey of emerging African American leaders and those of African descent. Our participants are aware of the challenges facing our community, proficient in fulfilling specific leadership roles that match their skillset and have a passion for community-engagement work. Fellows are chosen for the Leadership Academy through a closed application process. Candidates must be nominated by an AALF Board Member or JRJLA alum in order to apply.

The Network: AALF places the people we engage with into two distinct categories: (1) Subscribers and (2) Network contributors. Subscribers receive general information about public events we hold, such as our Monthly CONNECT events and annual gala celebration. Overall, AALF communicates with our subscribers via newsletters and social media. Being a Network contributor means contributing time, talent, or treasure to our Collective Impact work and taking the initiative to stay connected to other African American leaders throughout the state. Network contributors have unprecedented opportunities to grow professionally and personally, and to connect with other Black Thought Leaders, Influencers, Builders, and Ambassadors. They’re also provided with exclusive information about all AALF programs and convenings, have access to AALF merchandise, and are the first to know about resources and tools that support their career and community engagement interests.

AALF mobilizes and activates dynamic groups of committed and passionate African Americans to influence the social, economic and political landscape that impacts our daily lives. To learn more visit