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.

Jamara Cheek

Executive Assistant, Northside Funders Group

Jamara brings an extensive background in government contracting with federal, state, and municipal agencies. She has worked inside government agencies, corporate, non-profit and small business. This exposure to various cultures allows her to communicate effectively across sectors. Previously, she worked at the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Metropolitan Economic Development Association, Metropolitan Council and Wells Fargo. Jamara is a Twin Cities native and she enjoys living near the Mississippi River.

tammy-2-medTammy Nolen

Development & Communications Coordinator, Northside Funders Group

Tammy brings strong administrative, communication, and project management skills to this role and has worked for several major organizations in the Twin Cities. Before joining NFG, Tammy worked at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation where she provided lead support during the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood’s planning year. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communication from St. Olaf College and a master’s degree in Communication from Regent University.

 Tony Tolliver

Program Officer, Workforce Development, Northside Funders Group

Tony leads Northside Funders Group’s strategies and investment to increase the number of Northside residents who are equipped and supported to secure employment in growing industries across our region and to support our members in more responsive and effective workforce development philanthropy, including leading the North@Work program. Tony brings 20 years of experience and leadership in diversity, public affairs and community engagement in the corporate sector to NFG. He has served on the boards of Pillsbury United Communities, KMOJ and Hands on Twin Cities and was recognized as “Volunteer of the Year” by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. He has a bachelors degree in Business Administration from Doane University. Tony and his family live in North Minneapolis.

TesaJohnson_WebTesa Johnson

Racial Equity and Economic Opportunity Manager, Northside Funders Group

Tesa advances engagement and inclusion with employers of our workforce development program, North@Work. She also partners with NFG members to strengthen their internal operations and grant making to accelerate racial equity and economic opportunity in North Minneapolis. Tesa joins us from the state of Minnesota where she served as the Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion Special Programs Coordinator at Minnesota Management and Budget. She has also held roles with the St. Paul Literacy Consortium, Summit Academy OIC and LoveWorks Academy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Services and Psychology from Metro State University and a master’s degree in Education from Capella University. Tesa is married with five children.

ColleenO'ConnorToberman_webColleen O’Connor Toberman

Blue Line Coalition Manager, Northside Funders Group

Colleen is the Blue Line Coalition Manager, supporting the Coalition in their work to secure equitable outcomes for communities along the upcoming Blue Line LRT Extension. Colleen brings experience in community engagement and program management from over ten years of work in the public and nonprofit sectors, most recently at the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies. Colleen holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of St. Thomas. She is a Twin Cities native and lives in Northeast Minneapolis, where she serves as board president of the Northeast Investment Cooperative.

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