Gary Cunningham

Recent Articles

Gary Cunningham named Metro State Alumnus of the Year

In recognition of his strong commitment to serving the Twin Cities community both as a professional and as a volunteer, Metropolitan State University recognized Gary Cunningham as its 2014 Alumnus of the Year at the 2014 Celebrating Service to the Community Scholarship Luncheon on October 16 at Travelers in Saint Paul. Cunningham has built a distinguished career strengthening communities of color and working toward economic justice. He is the president and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA). Prior to coming to MEDA, he was the vice president and chief program officer for the Northwest Area Foundation, where he was responsible for carrying out the foundation’s mission to support efforts to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable prosperity in the foundation’s eight state region. Previous to his work at the foundation, Cunningham served in many leadership positions with various public and nonprofit organizations. Continue Reading →

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Meda announces new president/CEO

For the seventh time in its 43-year history, Meda (Metropolitan Economic Development Agency) has announced a new president and CEO. Northwest Area Foundation Vice President of Programs and Chief Program Officer Gary Cunningham is the newly appointed president and CEO, succeeding Yvonne Cheung Ho, who retires June 30 after helming the organization for 15 years. Cunningham will assume his duties August 18. Meda Senior Director of Consulting Services and Financing Jan Jordet will act as interim president and CEO starting July 1. “Meda is primed for transformational change, and with this appointment, the Twin Cities’ business community is stepping up to the plate to address racial disparities through Meda” said Doug Eden, Meda board chair and CEO search committee chair. Continue Reading →

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Transit riders bring concerns to Met Council

Routes, fares, shelters among issues raised in community engagement session

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


Transit equity means more than additional bus stops or faster trains. Local residents are saying it also means an equitable voice in transportation decisions. “Equity is not just a thing, but it is about money,” said Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) head Anthony Newby after a May 10 public meeting attended by over 100 community members held at his organization’s West Broadway office. “That money needs to show up on a contract, on a piece of paper that needs to be held accountable to.”

Many in the audience were regular Metro Transit riders who strongly suggested that a transit advisory committee composed of both community members and the Metropolitan Council be established. Four Metropolitan Council members were there: Gary Cunningham, Adam Duininck, Jennifer Munt and James Brimeyer, all of whom told the audience that they were not authorized to make any final decisions but promised to take it to the entire 17-member body. Continue Reading →

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Equity in light rail postponed again

The Star Tribune ran stories last week about light rail in the metro area. The real interpretation: purposeful denial, again, of light rail equity for North Minneapolis. Star Tribune reported, May 12, 2014, that African Americans believe North Minneapolis is “not getting its fair share of transit amenities, despite having a heavily transit-dependent population,” and that there is a “drastic difference between service and amenities in other parts of the city like Uptown and the south side.” In other words, jobs for White city plantation bureaucrats and White construction workers, and more transit for White areas. We need action, not more talk. Back in 2008 and 2009, Black legislators and leaders were talking about a big public-works project involving light rail in North Minneapolis. Continue Reading →

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Gary Cunningham gives back, as his uncle Moe taught him

The ‘one story’ of European colonialism informs his work
By Isaac Peterson
Contributing Writer


Minneapolis-native Gary Cunningham’s career has been long and varied, and his résumé reads like a “Who’s Who” of local government agencies and organizations. He has been involved with, at various times:

• NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center in North Minneapolis, where he was CEO and director of primary care;

• Hennepin County as director of planning and development;

• Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, as associate collegiate program leader and research fellow;

• Minneapolis Public Schools as executive director of human resource services/acting operations administrator;

• Scott County as administrator and chief executive officer; and

• The African American Men Project as its director. Before all of that, Cunningham was raised by his uncle Moe, a community activist who Cunningham credits with giving him the guidance that blossomed into a career of service. “There was an expectation that you would use

your skills, talents and abilities to give back and contribute to the well-being of the community, particularly African Americans and other people of color,” Cunningham explained about his uncle. After graduating from Minneapolis’ Central High School, Cunningham became involved with the Community Gardens in South Minneapolis and then went on to run the Grand-Central Co-Op, a grocery store across the street from his old high school. Continue Reading →

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African Americans in the Twin Cities co-op movement

By LaDonna Redmond

Contributing Writer



“There were two African American owned co-ops in the Twin Cities,” according to Gary Cunningham, former staff of the old Bryant-Central co-op. Gary’s uncle, Moe Burton, was the energy behind the co-op that formed in 1975 on the corner of 35th Street and 4th Avenue. Decades earlier, in 1946, the Credjafawn Social Club formed the first African American Co-op, the Credjafawn Co-op, which was located a few blocks from the current Mississippi Market Co-op location at Selby and Dale. St. Peters AME church member and Central community resident, Gregory McMoore became concerned when he learned from a Wilder Foundation report that found that you can predict the life expectancy of people by their zip code. Continue Reading →

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