MN Trust | Team

MN Trust Black Women and Girls Town Hall Committee Members:

Chair of the MN Trust Black Women and Girls Town Hall Committee – Dr. Brittany Lewis, Senior Research Associate at the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, Professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and former Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank Scholar in Residence.

Dr. Brittany Lewis is a local scholar activist, author, professor, and youth action research team leader that utilizes her engaged action research framework to center the voices of Black women and girls in her scholarship and public advocacy on urban housing and community economic development. Dr. Lewis is currently a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) where she is the principal investigator of the In-depth Study of Evictions in Minneapolis and the Co-Principal Investigator on the recently published report entitled: The Diversity of Gentrification: Multiple Forms of Gentrification in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Dr. Lewis is a former Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank Fellow and is currently expanding her research into areas of criminal justice. Before, joining CURA Dr. Lewis was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Macalester College in Political Science and American Studies and a Postdoctoral Fellow at Bowdoin College. Dr. Lewis is a PhD trained community-engaged urban ethnographer with an expertise in urban housing, community economic development, and critical race and gender studies with a focus on issues of poverty. Dr. Lewis is the author of a number of state and city reports, featured in a series of academic journals/anthologies, and has a forthcoming book on urban housing and gentrification. For the last 10 years, Dr. Lewis has been working with Hope Community Inc., leading its youth action research team, which aims to empower young high school age Black girls through purposeful community action informed by research questions that are relevant to their daily lives.



Core Team Member of the MN Trust Black Women and Girls Town Hall Committee – Lulete Mola, Vice President of Community Impact at Women’s Foundation of Minnesota

Lulete Mola is committed to social change that is intersectional, asset based, and led by communities most impacted. As the Vice President of Community Impact at the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Lulete puts this commitment to action as she leads the implementation and management of the Foundation’s grantmaking, evaluation, leadership, and field-building programs that enable large-scale systems change. In this role, Lulete also leads the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota, a multi-million-dollar public-private partnership to achieve equity in opportunities and improve the lives of young women of color and American Indian young women. Lulete is devoted to engaging in and supporting community organizing, movement building, and work to advance women’s leadership, she was previously a Community Engagement Organizer with VoteRunLead. Lulete leads engagement and professional development initiatives in Minnesota’s East African community and is active in the movement for Black lives. Lulete is the recipient of the Humanity in Action Fellowship, Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Project Fellowship, and the Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity Award. In 2017, Lulete was named Young Professional of the Year Finalist by the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce. Lulete graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota.



Core Team Member the MN Trust Black Women and Girls Town Hall Committee – Shannon Smith Jones, Executive Director of Hope Community Inc.  

Shannon Smith Jones is the Executive Director of Hope Community after having served as the Director of Community Engagement at Urban Homeworks, both of which combine an emphasis on quality affordable housing with a strategic focus on engaging and working towards an equitable community. She received her B.A from the University of MN in Family Social Science, and is a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory. She brings with her 15 plus years of community impact experience, a strong passion for housing justice and brings to her work a community focused asset based approach.  






Core Team Member of the MN Trust Black Women and Girls Town Hall Committee- Marcus Owens, Executive Director of the African American Policy Forum

Marcus Owens is a social entrepreneur, systems shifter and community developer. Owens believes that expanding economic and educational opportunities and improving health and well-being for all is key to building a healthier and just community. Owens currently serves as the Executive Director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) – Twin Cities. AALF’s focus is to improve the economic health of underserved communities in the Twin Cities by creating opportunities through public and private partnerships. Before joining AALF, Owens was the President and CEO of Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON), Under his direction, NEON more than quadrupled its operating budget and staff size, launched a social enterprise business and created a co-working space for entrepreneurs. Owens also spent nearly a decade driving change and championing new initiatives in finance, diversity and inclusion and human resources for Target Corporation. Before his time at Target, he worked for TCF National Bank as well as owned and operated a mortgage company. A native of north Minneapolis, Owens received a Bachelor of Science degree from Metropolitan State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of St. Thomas.