Identifying African American Leaders Building Areas of Opportunity

The African American Leadership Forum (AALF) welcomes four distinguished members of the community as panel members at our 5th Annual Gala Breakfast Celebration — Collaboration: The Four Personas of Leadership, including Caroline A. Wanga (Target Corporation), Al McFarlane (Insight Media), Shawntera M. Hardy (founder of PolicyGrounds Consulting), and Reuben Moore (Minnesota Community Care). This year’s event will bring together 500+ social innovators from across Minnesota to explore AALF’s four leadership personas, which include Thought Leader, Influencer, Builder, and Ambassador.

As a data-driven, people-empowered movement the Forum seeks to uplift the African American community by identifying and supporting Black leaders. We believe everyone is a leader with the ability to impact change. But knowing who you are as a leader requires reframing and understanding the leadership personas that currently exist within the ecosystem of changemakers. Our leadership personas are dynamic and include a variety of leadership characteristics and forms. The personas are fluid — working in parallel and in overlap of each other, webbing the necessary links and building collectivity in our community. The gala event is a great opportunity for participants to learn more about the personas, discover where they fall on the leadership spectrum, and meet other changemakers across the Twin Cities. Our leadership personas are defined as:

  • Thought Leader: A seeker, analyzer, and synthesizer of information who understands and solves problems by developing progressive solutions through innovation and creativity.
  • Influencer: An activator in community who organizes people to take actions around an issue or strategy.  Someone who takes the initiative to impact the distribution of political and/or economic power by encouraging, persuading, or directing decisions.
  • Builder: A developer of programs and infrastructure who utilizes information and prioritizes inputs and desired outcomes to establish support for community-level activity. These people build solutions to problems without deviating from the initial intent.
  • Ambassador: A person who promotes community empowerment by working directly with members of the community and organizing action. This person shares stories and information, supports awareness and insight on key issues, and acts as a hub for community members.

AALF will play a central role in understanding the state of our community, identifying the leaders who are building and areas of opportunity, and in beginning to share a narrative that shapes the beliefs and behaviors of the Black community that is often defined only by race. The African American community is segmented by income, geography, longevity, connectiveness, and is often disconnected; this creates a false narrative about what’s really happening to African Americans in our state. We haven’t voiced or developed a common narrative that truly brings definition to our shared experience or that enables us to come together to develop a productive way of being in community. “The Community,” as a term, is used loosely and without clearly identifying who exactly is being referenced. Through convenings, our Collective Impact work and educating the community about different approaches to leadership, AALF is working to better the lives of African Americans in Minnesota and beyond.

Speaker Highlight: Caroline A. Wanga

Wanga is a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Vice President of Human Resources at the Target Corporation. She leads Target’s strategic intent to champion an inclusive society with accountability for inclusive guest experiences, a diverse and inclusive work environment, and societal impact. As a cultural catalyst, she fuels Target’s business objectives through the company’s first-ever performance-based D & I goals. Launched in 2015, Supplier Diversity, Marketing, Philanthropy, Retention, Hiring & Representation and Engagement have significantly improved. Caroline began her Target career in supply chain in 2005, serving in a variety of transformational leadership roles, including modernizing Supply Chain, Business Intelligence, Digital and Strategy capabilities prior to joining the Diversity & Inclusion team in 2014. Caroline earned her bachelors degree in Business Administration from Texas College and is an inspirational thought leader and public speaker. Her innovative shared accountability approach to driving business results is featured in The Innovation Mentalityby Glenn Llopis, Our Search for Belongingby Howard Ross, and The Multiplier Effect of Inclusionby Dr. Tony Byers. She is a Kenyan citizen, Top Executive in Diversity by Black Enterprise, a member of the Executive Leadership Council, the Talladega College Board of Trustees, the Intersectionality Culture and Diversity Advisory Board for Twitter, and co-chair of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Diversity & Inclusion Initiative. Her greatest life accomplishment is her daughter Cadence.

The 5th Annual Breakfast Gala Celebration will be held at the University of Minnesota (McNamara Alumni Center) on Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., led by a panel of leaders from across the Twin Cities, and hosted by T. Mychal Rambo (Actor/Singer) with performances by Jamecia Bennett (Actor/Singer) and local talent.