Artful Living Magazine | Autumn 2020

Page 218

INTEL

N O RT H N O TA B L E S • A L P RO M O T I O N

Chanda Smith Baker Minneapolis Foundation

Chanda Smith Baker is busy. As the senior vice president of impact for the Minneapolis Foundation, she’s been overseeing grant-making programs and providing direction for community initiatives and partnerships. The role is a natural evolution in a career rooted in fighting inequities, including working at the Pillsbury United Communities for almost two decades. She’s proud of how the Minneapolis Foundation leaped into action when our community was confronted with the pandemic, the killing of George Floyd and the unrest that followed. “We are in a position to act and respond,” she says. “When the pandemic hit, we had to decide how to deploy our tools.” Within weeks, the foundation deployed $2 million to help with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak through the OneMPLS Fund then another $500,000 to address the aftermath of Floyd’s murder. Other disbursements were given to help cities thrive, to assist already-distressed areas in rebuilding, and to aid on-the-ground activists and programs. Another point of pride: Smith Baker founded the podcast Conversations with Chanda, where she invites notables to talk about difficult topics with her, pushing virtually everyone outside their comfort zone — which she says is necessary. “Our inability to have tough conversations has absolutely held us back,” she asserts. “We can’t get to disparities and differences without talking about difference. The challenge is to do that with people who have a different experience or opinion than you. That’s where learning and change happen.” From there, she hopes change truly begins to take place. “I dream of a community that prioritizes people over politics,” she notes. “A community that’s bolder, more courageous and more willing to be honest about what’s working and what’s not — and for whom. Where we understand our interconnectedness and are willing to work toward something we all benefit from.” And she believes that’s possible. “The Minneapolis Foundation has a framework I’m very proud of that articulates values that are really critical right now — probably more than ever,” she adds. “There’s so much value being proximate to your community, listening to and amplifying the voices of those most impacted, and holding the value that change is personal. The value of civic participation. The sheer value of hope.”

PHOTOGRAPHY PROVIDED BY MINNEAPOLIS FOUNDATION

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