Northside Funders Group



TawannaBlack_Web2Tawanna Black

Executive Director, Northside Funders Group

Tawanna is nationally recognized thought leader who is well known for influencing, inspiring and equipping cross-sector leaders to transform a personal conviction for equality into actions that produce equitable and thriving communities.

Tawanna is the Executive Director of the Northside Funders Group, a place-based, collective impact organization of 20 corporate, community and private foundations and public sector investors committed to aligning investments and strategies to catalyze comprehensive, sustainable change in North Minneapolis. In this role she facilitates a groundbreaking four-lever approach to helping funders Learn, Leverage, Influence and Invest in new ways that advance equity and build social capital and extend the prosperity of the Twin Cities to one of its most impoverished neighborhoods.

Before moving to Minnesota, Tawanna was the Director of Diversity for Cox Communications, where she served as an advisor to the senior management team, assisting in setting the highest standards for business growth, innovation and stakeholder return by ensuring that the company understood and acted upon the needs of diverse communities.

Prior to joining Cox, she served as the first Executive Director for Destination Midtown, leading an unprecedented community economic development public-private partnership. Her visionary leadership led to more than $500 million of re-investment in the historic heart of Omaha in just three years, and also resulted in the development of a model that was later replicated in North and South Omaha.

Tawanna has a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. In 2015, she was selected as a part of the Twin Cities cohort for the inaugural Harvard Business School Young American Leaders Program on U.S. Economic Competitiveness. Tawanna also completed an Executive Certificate in Transformational Leadership from Georgetown University in 2015.

Tawanna’s civic leadership has been recognized with many awards and commendations. A few notables include: Midlands Business Journal’s (Omaha) 40 Under 40 in 2004; prestigious Bush Fellowship by the Bush Foundation in 2014; One of the nations Top 25 Disruptive Leaders working to close racial gaps by Living Cities in 2016; Twin Cities Business Magazine’s 2017 100 People to Know; and Minnesota Business Magazine’s 2017 Real Power 50.

Tawanna has lent her leadership to over 35 non-profit and philanthropic boards over the last decade. Today she serves as a trustee at the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, and president of the Minneapolis-St. Paul (MN) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.

Tawanna is married to Eric Black and has two children, Traviata (5) and Christian (4).


Sarah Hernandez

Program Officer, The McKnight Foundation

Co-Chair, Northside Funders Group

Sarah works within the Foundation’s Region and Communities program area. The program encourages efficient and sustainable regional development in the Twin Cities that creates livable communities and expands opportunities for all to thrive. Hernandez oversees the Environmentally Vibrant Neighborhoods portfolio. Hernandez has served on several advisory boards and committees of area nonprofits including the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Twin Cities LISCNexus Community Partners, and Minnesota Green Communities.

Jo-Anne Stately

Director of Impact Strategy, Economic Vitality, The Minneapolis Foundation

Co-Chair, Northside Funders Group

Jo-Anne has been involved in philanthropy for 20 years. She currently oversees the Foundation’s focus area of economic vitality that concentrates on having an inclusive and prepared workforce, investing in minority owned business development, providing career options that lead to sustainable wages, and building wealth and assets in target communities. An enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa, White Earth Nation and Pillager Band, Jo-Anne remains active in other volunteer opportunities, including serving on the boards of the American Indian Cancer Foundation, Native American Community Clinic and the Regents Advisory Council for the University of Minnesota.

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