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NEON's Upcoming Events

NEON hosts events throughout the year to highlight the importance of entrepreneurship in closing Minnesota's long-standing racial wealth gap. By creating a Culture of Entrepreneurship on the Northside, we are building generational wealth and transforming our community from a drive-through to a destination. 

Our lively Community Conversations bring local and national luminaries together to discuss diversity, equity and inclusion programs, and policies that, when successful, can lead to a more equitable future of work, and other hot topics that impact the low- to moderate-income entrepreneurs we serve. 

 
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About Community Conversations 

NEON’s “Community Conversation Version 3.0” is the third annual Community Conversation series which originated in 2020. Engaging nearly 1,000 community members through in-person and virtual viewership in the first two years, we expect to draw increased attention to and elevate our profile through the next Community Conversation Series, Version 3.0. Designed to spark strategic dialogue, the series brings together BIPOC-owned business and entrepreneurs, NEON leadership, and national guests to address social and racial injustice, economic opportunity, and community support of NEON initiatives.

We are planning for dynamic speakers in 3 to 4 sessions taking place in the afternoon this year, with networking receptions to follow.  Thanks to excellent survey response and feedback we’ll plan to feature our own local entrepreneurs, corporate executives and known BIPOC-business owners with connections to food, sports and housing – among other business interests.

NEON's Community Conversation Series 3.0

Session 3: Building Wealth Through Solid Banking Relationships – Examining How a Black-owned Bank is Adding a Voice for Inclusion

 

On Tuesday, December 6th, Warren McLean will be joined by Jeanne Crain, President and CEO of Bremer Financial Corporation, Kenneth Kelly, Chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank, and Tim Welsh, Vice Chair of Consumer and Business Banking for U.S. Bank for Session 3 of NEON’s Community Conversation Series 3.0. The Conversation will be moderated by Tru Pettigrew, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Minnesota Timberwolves/Lynx. 

 

We look forward to gathering new insights from our esteemed panel in discussion around:

  • Building wealth by creating solid banking relationships

  • Examining how a Black-owned bank is adding a voice for inclusion

  • How banks can be beacons of hope in their communities – particularly for those who are unbanked or underbanked

We invite guests to attend the networking reception with hors d’oeuvres and beverages following the Conversation.

 

DATE

Tuesday, December 6th, 2022

 

TIME

3PM – Registration opens

4PM – Community Conversation begins

5:15PM – Networking reception begins

 

LOCATION

The Depot Minneapolis

225 3rd Ave S

Minneapolis, MN 55401

 

TICKETS

$50 per person (Conversation only)

$75 per person (Conversation plus reception)

Registration will close at 12:00pm on Tuesday, December 6th, 2022.

Valet parking is provided to all guests

 

Day-of registration will be available at the door, $80 per ticket. Exact cash or credit card only.
Please call Gina Marengo at (612) 746-4150 with questions regarding registration.

 

Session 3 guest panelists include:

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Jeanne Crain, President and CEO of Bremer Financial Corporation (Panelist)

Jeanne Crain is President and Chief Executive Officer of Bremer Financial Corporation. As CEO since November 2016, Jeanne has combined her extensive industry knowledge with decades of leadership experience to advance the company’s strategy and performance, champion Bremer’s purpose and values, and deliver on its commitment to help communities thrive. Prior to joining Bremer in 2012, Jeanne enjoyed a 30-year career in commercial and retail banking, honing her collaborative leadership style, passion for relationship-based client service and ability to navigate a highly dynamic business environment. As an active volunteer and community leader, Jeanne serves on the board of the YMCA of the North, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance. Jeanne has recently been recognized by American Banker as a Woman to Watch as a part of their 2020 Most Powerful Women in Finance recognition, and by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal as one of their 2019 Most Admired CEOs.

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Kenneth Kelly, Chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank (Panelist)

Kenneth Kelly is the Chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank, a minority depository institution based in Detroit, Michigan, which is now the 7th largest African American-controlled commercial bank in the country. Kenneth is responsible for leading the bank’s financial operations, assets, policies, and regulations, in addition to overseeing the company’s management infrastructure. He serves on the Board of Directors of the American Bankers Association and was selected to become a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman’s Advisory Committee on Community Banking which is charged with providing advice and recommendations to the FDIC on a broad range of community banking policy and regulatory matters. Kenneth has been included in the Birmingham Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 and has been recognized for his leadership in Georgia by the Henry County Chamber, Council for Quality Growth and 100 Black Men of Atlanta. 

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Tim Welsh, Vice Chair of Consumer and Business Banking for U.S. Bank (Panelist)

Tim Welsh is the Vice Chair of Consumer and Business Banking (CBB) for U.S. Bancorp. In this role, Tim leads a team of more than 26,000 to drive the company’s overall consumer and small business strategy. Throughout his career, Tim’s work has focused on financial services, where he has worked extensively on connecting with consumers and small businesses to develop strategies that generate significant growth. He is the chair of the board for GREATER MSP, vice chair of the board of Allina Health, and lead independent director for the GHR Foundation. Nationally, Tim serves as co-chair of the Small Business Committee of Project REACh. He also serves on the boards of the Consumer Bankers Association, Catholic Charities USA, and is a member of the Global Board of Advisors for Operation HOPE. In addition, Tim is a founder of the Itasca Project, a dedicated team of business, government, and not-for-profit leaders who are working to improve the quality of life in Minneapolis and St. Paul. 

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Warren McLean, President of Northside Economic Opportunity Network (Host)

Warren McLean brings more than 30 years of experience in finance, fundraising, strategic planning, and program development to NEON. In 2021 The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal named Warren a “Most Admired CEO”, also in 2021 Warren’s dedication to championing entrepreneurs earned him recognition as one of Twin Cities Business Magazine’s “100 Minnesotans to Know”. Warren has been President of NEON since August of 2018. Warren was at CRF for 15 years, where he led their development work as Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer raising more than $150 million. Prior to his work at CRF, Warren led the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA) as President and CEO for 10 years. Under his leadership, MEDA tripled its budget, solidified its financial stability, and built a $5.3 million loan program to support minority-owned businesses in the community.

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Tru Pettigrew, Timberwolves/Lynx Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (Moderator)

Tru Pettigrew is the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the MN Timberwolves/Lynx, overseeing all four franchises including the Timberwolves, Lynx, Iowa Wolves, and T-Wolves Gaming. Tru is a celebrated author, an engaging speaker, and a committed community leader. With close to 20 years of experience at the nation’s top advertising & marketing agencies and contributing to the success of brands like Nike, State Farm, Heineken, Hennessy, Unilever, and Ford, he is an award-winning marketing executive. In 2012, Tru founded Tru Access, a consultancy for individuals and organizations to learn to bridge gaps across areas that cause division, dysfunction, and separation. His first book, “Millennials Revealed”, serves as a guide for countless individuals and organizations across the country to help them build meaningful connections across diverse generations. Tru is considered one of the country’s top Millennial Empowerment experts and cross-generational thought leaders.

SESSION 2: A Discussion Focused on the Sports Industry's Business and DEI Initiatives and How They Impact BIPOC Entrepreneurs in the Metro Area

NEON’s second session in our Community Conversation Series 3.0 featuring Tru Pettigrew, Meka White Morris, and Martin Nance was truly an evening to remember. We thank our panel for sharing their voices and insights.

Thank you to our host, Warren McLean, moderator, Harry Colbert, Jr and Mayor Jacob Frey for a spectacular conversation.

We extend a very special thank you to our sponsorship partners who made this all possible. 
 

Session 2 guest panelists included:

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Tru Pettigrew, Timberwolves/Lynx Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Tru Pettigrew is the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the MN Timberwolves, overseeing all four franchises including the Timberwolves, Lynx, Iowa Wolves, and T-Wolves Gaming. Tru is a celebrated author, an engaging speaker, and a committed community leader. With close to 20 years of experience at the nation’s top advertising & marketing agencies and contributing to the success of brands like Nike, State Farm, Heineken, Hennessy, Unilever and Ford, he is an award-winning marketing executive. In 2012, Tru founded Tru Access, a consultancy for individuals and organizations to learn to bridge gaps across areas that cause division, dysfunction, and separation. His first book, “Millennials Revealed” serves as a guide for countless individuals and organizations across the country to help them build meaningful connections across diverse generations. Tru is considered one of the country’s top Millennial Empowerment experts and cross-generational thought leaders.

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Meka White Morris, Twins Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer

Meka White Morris is the Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer at the Minnesota Twins. Meka collaborates across the organization’s Senior Leadership Team to drive continued business growth and development, with a specific focus on the exploration and optimization of potential new and evolving revenue streams. In 2021, Meka was named one of the Sports Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40”. Prior to joining the Twins, she was the Chief Revenue Officer for Tappit, a global payment and data system for sports and entertainment venues. She also has extensive experience in sales-focused leadership at the Learfield, Legends Hospitality, Live Nation Entertainment, the Charlotte Hornets, the Oakland Raiders, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.  

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Martin Nance, Vikings Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

Martin Nance serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at the Minnesota Vikings where he's responsible for developing fan engagement strategy through marketing, content, and brand initiatives. Martin joined the organization in 2020 with over 10 years of leadership experience in strategic marketing programs, advertising, branding, fan engagement, and customer relations. He manages multiple departments, including marketing, sponsorship activation, events, premium services, creative, sales analytics & engagement and the Vikings Entertainment Network. Martin also previously played ball for the Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Warren McLean, President of Northside Economic Opportunity Network (Host)

Warren McLean brings more than 30 years of experience in finance, fundraising, strategic planning, and program development to NEON. Warren’s dedication to championing entrepreneurs has earned him recognition as one of Twin Cities Business Magazine’s 2021 “100 Minnesotans to Know.” In his former role as SVP and Chief Development Officer at Community Reinvestment Fund (CRF), he led efforts to raise more than $150 million to support and promote community development. Prior to his work at CRF, Warren led the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA) as President and CEO for 10 years. Under his leadership, MEDA tripled its budget, solidified its financial stability, and built a $5.3 million loan program to support minority-owned businesses in the community.

In 2021, The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal named Warren a Most Admired CEO. For decades, he has shared his expertise as a board member with community organizations across the Twin Cities. He currently serves on the board of the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers. Warren was named Ernst & Young’s National Entrepreneur of the Year 1997 in the Supporter of Entrepreneurship Category and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Minnesota Minority Business Advocate of the Year. He grew up in New York, NY and holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BS in Economics from the University at Albany, SUNY.

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Harry Colbert, Jr., Managing Editor at MinnPost (Moderator)

Harry Colbert, Jr. is the Managing Editor of MinnPost, joining the newsroom in January. Prior, he was North News' Editor in Chief where the publication was awarded three Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists awards and five 2021 Minnesota Newspaper Association first place awards including the individual award for Best Column. Colbert is the recipient of an additional four Minnesota Newspaper Association awards, three National Newspaper Publishers Association Merit Awards, and three National Association of Black Journalists Salute to Excellence nominations. He has contributed as a reporter, columnist and editor for such outlets as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s The Village, Insight News (Minneapolis), Suburban Journals (St. Louis), St. Louis American, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Joplin Globe, Metro Networks (St. Louis) and KDHX (St. Louis).

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Jacob Frey, Mayor of Minneapolis

Since his election as Mayor in 2017, Mayor Frey has championed an agenda centered on increasing access to affordable housing throughout the city, strengthening community-police relations, and fueling economic growth through inclusive policies. He has successfully secured record-setting investments for the city’s affordable housing work, boosting efforts to expand and preserve affordable housing. Jacob has worked with Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to shift the department’s culture, enhance accountability, and prioritize officer wellness. From strengthening the police department’s body camera policy to overhauling the department’s use of force policy, Jacob has been persistent in improving public safety in Minneapolis. And to help bridge the city’s racial disparities, the mayor has targeted resources where they’re needed most to accelerate economic growth. He worked with his Council Colleagues to establish seven new Cultural Districts, areas prioritized for investment. To help ensure more entrepreneurs of color have a fair shot at owning their property, he created a first-of-its-kind Commercial Property Development Fund to target resources to neighborhoods that have historically experienced disinvestment.

Thank You to our Community Conversation 3.0 Sponsors!

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  Changemaker Sponsors  

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&

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  Accelerator Sponsors  

SESSION 1: Economic and Community Impact of Black-led Development on the Northside

Date and Time: Thursday, September 1, 2022 - 4pm 
Location: The Metropolitan Ballroom & Clubroom (5418 Wayzata Blvd., Golden Valley, MN 55416)

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey joined the September 1st Community Conversation for a welcome and update. Frey has championed an agenda centered on increasing access to affordable housing throughout the city, strengthening community-police relations, and fueling economic growth through inclusive policies. 

Did you miss our first Community Conversation?

View the first session below.

Guest panelists include:

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Tim Baylor, President of JADT Group (Panelist)

Tim Baylor is the founder and CEO of the JADT Companies. He founded JADT Development Group, LLC in 1985 and JADT Food Group, LLC in 1997. He has led several development projects in the Minneapolis area including land, retail, commercial, mixed use, and luxury housing projects. As a former Minneapolis Planning Commissioner and former Real Estate Representative for the McDonald’s Corporation, Tim has a diverse and varied experience in the multifaceted real estate development process. Tim has been a licensed broker in Maryland and Minnesota and has been a licensed real estate appraiser and a MAI candidate with the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers. He has also been a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) candidate with the National Association of Realtors. He is currently a member of the Urban Land Institute of Minnesota. Through JADT Food Group, Tim serves as the owner/operator and manager of several McDonald’s restaurant locations in the Minneapolis metropolitan area. Tim has served on several civic and professional associations, including the Board of the Minneapolis area United Way, the National Football League Research and Education Foundation, the West Broadway Business Association, and the National Association of Minority Contractors of Minnesota. Tim currently serves on the Boards of the Minneapolis Foundation, the North Memorial Hospital System, MEET Minneapolis, and is a member of the National Football League Players Association.

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Devean George, President and CEO of George Group North (Panelist)

Devean George is the president and CEO of George Group North. As a young child living in a troubled inner-city neighborhood in North Minneapolis, Devean looked up to his older brother who introduced him to the game of basketball. In the fall of 1995, Devean arrived at Augsburg College in Downtown Minneapolis where he furthered his education in the classroom dominated on the court. Devean went on to become the first-ever NCAA Division III basketball player selected in the first round (23rd overall pick) of the NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. Throughout his 11-year career in the National Basketball Association he contributed to the success of three NBA teams. Off the court, George was devoted to numerous causes - he focused on families, education and children. Upon retiring from the NBA in 2010, Devean remains committed to positively impacting the community that helped shape who he is today. His desire to give back is the driving force behind his creation of The George Group North and his nonprofit, Building Blocks. 

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Houston White, Entrepreneur and Developer of the Camdentown neighborhood of North Minneapolis (Panelist)

Houston White is an entrepreneur and developer of the Camdentown neighborhood of North Minneapolis. As a kid in North Minneapolis, he began selling t-shirts from his backpack and cutting hair for cash. He was a young entrepreneur, hustling hard to create a future all his own. Today, Houston is a creative powerhouse who brings people, cultures and communities together to elevate one another. He believes style is an act of self-celebration, a means of asserting your point of view and bridging the distance between yourself and others. Houston motivates everyone around him to seek more, be more and do more for the people and ideas that matter to them. He is invested in creating a better world, particularly for the Black community, and regularly collaborates with local government officials and business leaders to increase racial equity.

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Warren McLean, President of Northside Economic Opportunity Network (Host)

Warren McLean brings more than 30 years of experience in finance, fundraising, strategic planning, and program development to NEON. Warren’s dedication to championing entrepreneurs has earned him recognition as one of Twin Cities Business Magazine’s 2021 “100 Minnesotans to Know.” In his former role as SVP and Chief Development Officer at Community Reinvestment Fund (CRF), he led efforts to raise more than $150 million to support and promote community development. Prior to his work at CRF, Warren led the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA) as President and CEO for 10 years. Under his leadership, MEDA tripled its budget, solidified its financial stability, and built a $5.3 million loan program to support minority-owned businesses in the community.

In 2021, The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal named Warren a Most Admired CEO. For decades, he has shared his expertise as a board member with community organizations across the Twin Cities. He currently serves on the board of the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers. Warren was named Ernst & Young’s National Entrepreneur of the Year 1997 in the Supporter of Entrepreneurship Category and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Minnesota Minority Business Advocate of the Year. He grew up in New York, NY and holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BS in Economics from the University at Albany, SUNY.

Harry-Colbert-HS-scaled.jpg

Harry Colbert, Jr., Managing Editor at MinnPost (Moderator)

Harry Colbert, Jr. is the Managing Editor of MinnPost, joining the newsroom in January. Prior, he was North News' Editor in Chief where the publication was awarded three Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists awards and five 2021 Minnesota Newspaper Association first place awards including the individual award for Best Column. Colbert is the recipient of an additional four Minnesota Newspaper Association awards, three National Newspaper Publishers Association Merit Awards, and three National Association of Black Journalists Salute to Excellence nominations. He has contributed as a reporter, columnist and editor for such outlets as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s The Village, Insight News (Minneapolis), Suburban Journals (St. Louis), St. Louis American, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Joplin Globe, Metro Networks (St. Louis) and KDHX (St. Louis).

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Jacob Frey, Mayor of Minneapolis

Since his election as Mayor in 2017, Mayor Frey has championed an agenda centered on increasing access to affordable housing throughout the city, strengthening community-police relations, and fueling economic growth through inclusive policies. He has successfully secured record-setting investments for the city’s affordable housing work, boosting efforts to expand and preserve affordable housing. Jacob has worked with Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to shift the department’s culture, enhance accountability, and prioritize officer wellness. From strengthening the police department’s body camera policy to overhauling the department’s use of force policy, Jacob has been persistent in improving public safety in Minneapolis. And to help bridge the city’s racial disparities, the mayor has targeted resources where they’re needed most to accelerate economic growth. He worked with his Council Colleagues to establish seven new Cultural Districts, areas prioritized for investment. To help ensure more entrepreneurs of color have a fair shot at owning their property, he created a first-of-its-kind Commercial Property Development Fund to target resources to neighborhoods that have historically experienced disinvestment.

 

Sponsorship Opportunities

Questions and Sponsorship Opportunities

Please email Bev Ordahl at bev.ordahl@jmurphyassociates.com with additional questions, concerns or to learn how to become an event sponsor.

Community Conversations 3.0
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