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. “Gary is the leader who will take Meda to the next level in its ongoing mission to strengthen the minority business community in Minnesota and beyond.”
“I’m thrilled to join an organization so greatly committed to providing business development solutions and resources to help narrow Minnesota’s racial economic disparities,” said Cunningham. “Meda recognizes that the sustainable growth of even a single high-performing minority-owned company can bring jobs and significant economic opportunity to an entire community.”
Cunningham brings a wealth of private, public, nonprofit and governmental experience that will move Meda to the next level of its evolution to build economic opportunity for entrepreneurs of color. Prior to his work at Northwest Area Foundation, he served as the president and chief executive officer for NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center. He served as the director of planning and development for Hennepin County, where he supervised policy development and strategic planning and directed the Hennepin County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
Cunningham also served as county administrator and chief executive officer for Scott County, Minnesota; associate superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools; and research fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. In addition, he has held leadership roles with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, and the City of Minneapolis.
A current member of the Association of Black Foundation Executives, he also sits on the Humphrey School Dean’s Advisory Council, The Center of Policy Studies at Hamline University, the Metropolitan Council’s Community Development Committee as chair, and the board of GenerationNext, a collective impact model to improve student achievement.
Yvonne Cheung Ho’s departure from Meda comes a little more than two weeks from today. As she retires after 21 years at Meda, she is confident the Twin Cities business community is in extremely capable hands. “For more than 40 years, Meda has successfully worked with the private, public and nonprofit sectors to support entrepreneurs of color to build their businesses and create employment opportunities for their communities. I’ve no doubt Meda will continue to aggressively pursue that mission for 40 more years to come.”
Information provided by Meda.