Don Samuels

Don is CEO of MicroGrants, which awards modest grants to low-income people of potential, to start a business or career. Don immigrated from Jamaica in 1970 to study Industrial Design in NYC. He spent 30 years in the toy industry as an R&D executive with major manufacturers and as co-owner of a design/invention studio. He graduated with a Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in 2001. Don evolved from a community leader in his Jordan Neighborhood to become a Minneapolis City Council member for three terms until his run for mayor in 2013 and then as elected board member of Minneapolis Public Schools for one term. Don cofounded the Hope Collaborative to showcase school leaders from across the country who had closed the achievement gap. Don also cofounded the PEACE Foundation, which became the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ). In 2011, NAZ won a $28.5 million federal grant to educate low-income children in North Minneapolis. Among his many City Council achievements, Don initiated the Ban the Box legislation to help ex-offenders gain employment, leading the way to statewide law. His leadership as Public Safety Chair led to seven consecutive years of double-digit crime reduction. Don now serves on the boards of The Center for Action and Contemplation, Luther Seminary, and Twin Cities Rise and the Chief’s Advisory Council for Minneapolis Police. He is a past board member of Minneapolis Public schools, The Youth Coordination Board, Meet Minneapolis, Teach for America, Alafia Place, and Rock ’n’ Read. Don is married to Sondra Hollinger Samuels, CEO of the NAZ. They have an adult son and have raised 3 daughters and mentored many, in the Jordan Neighborhood of North Minneapolis, for 23 years.