Staff

Dominic Scott
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Marcus Owens

Marcus is a social entrepreneur, systems shifter and community developer. Owens believes that expanding economic and educational opportunities and improving health and well-being for all is key to building a healthier and just community. AALF’s focus is to improve the economic health of underserved communities in the Twin Cities by creating opportunities through public and private partnerships.

Before joining AALF, Owens was the President and CEO of the Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON). Under his direction, NEON more than quadrupled its operating budget and staff size, launched a social enterprise business and created a co-working space for entrepreneurs.

Owens also spent nearly a decade driving change and championing new initiatives in finance, diversity & inclusion and human resources for Target Corporation. Before his time at Target, he worked for TCF National Bank and owned and operated a mortgage company. A native of north Minneapolis, Owens received a bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas.

Dominic Scott
SENIOR PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Ernest Comer III

Ernest has more than ten years of professional experience in both the not-for-profit and private sectors. He is passionate about professional development, career advancement, and uplifting leadership that is both holistic and collective. Ernest is committed to building pipelines to success through making connections and empowering people by creating awareness of and exposure to examples of leadership, success, and wealth development that may be unconventional.

Ernest provides an additional layer of leadership to the African American Leadership Forum as the Senior Program Director. while driving leadership development initiatives for the Network and the community. As an author, entrepreneur, professional and philanthropist he is dedicated to connecting individuals, organizations, and businesses to resources for continuous learning and enrichment.

Dominic Scott
VICE PRESIDENT OF ADMINISTRATION

Shanaya Dungey

Shanaya is a connector and community advocate who believes that knowledge sharing is a major key to improving pathways and opportunity for those who’ve been historically disenfranchised.  Her passion for connecting and empowering community through information sharing paired with her experience in operational excellence and process efficiency are what brought her to the AALF team.

Shanaya’s fifteen years leadership experience have a span across multiple sectors of business including corporate, government, nonprofit, and the arts. She is committed to creating opportunity to amplify the voices of the African American community and ensuring that AALF’s work is done with Black Excellence.

Dominic Scott
DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR

Kenneth Scales

Kenneth Scales is originally from Oceanside, CA. He and his family moved to Minneapolis in the early ’00s from the great place of Bronx, NY. His roots run deep, and he holds each place he’s lived dear to him. When he is often asked where are you from? He affectionately says “CaliYorkaSota”

He has a deep passion for community, people, and entrepreneurship. He has been working in the nonprofit sector for the past 13 years. He began his career as an AmeriCorps Volunteer with the PEACE Foundation which is now known as The Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ). He has held many roles with the organization over the years such as the Donor and Government Relations Manager and most recently the role of Annual Fund Manager. In the Last 4 years in these roles, he has played a key part in growing NAZ’s individual donor programs, NAZ Allies, Friends of the future, and NAZ’s yearly luncheon fundraiser in which he helped recruit over 900 guests to attend and raised over $500,000 consistently. All these dynamic experiences have prepared him for the role of Development Director with AALF.

Kenneth is a proud alumnus of the 2019 Association Fundraising Professional (AFP) IDEA Fellowship, 2019 Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy Fellowship and most recently he is a proud member of the 2020 New leaders Council Fellowship.

Beyond working full time, running a company, and volunteering Kenneth is the proud father of a very curious and busy 2-year-old son, Nolan. When asked, what’s the greatest position you have ever held? Kenneth wouldn’t hesitate and says fatherhood.

Dominic Scott
SENIOR PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Desralynn Cole

Desralynn Cole is a Project Management Coach and Consultant offering strategic and effective process methods for various organizations and their teams to achieve their goals and reach optimal levels of success. With over 15 years of experience working in the nonprofit and public sectors, Desralynn is a dedicated change agent, passionate advocate, and a skilled connector and builder of relationships in her community.

She is a recipient of the 2020 Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Hero Award, being recognized for her fierce advocacy to ensure her community was given equal access to resources and basic needs after many businesses in North Minneapolis community were looted and burned following the murder of George Floyd.

Desralynn Cole is a proud HBCU graduate from Fisk University and pursuing her master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. You will often hear her say that her network is her net worth and is committed to using her privilege and power to liftup and connect the people around her and expand the mission of AALF across the state of Minnesota and beyond.

Dominic Scott
SENIOR PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Marla Etheridge

Marla has successfully navigated roles in community engagement, marketing, and project/events management. She is passionate about creating experiences that encourage and promote the development of connection and collaboration. In her previous role at the University of Minnesota, she oversaw the College of Education and Human Development events department. Enthusiastically, she managed a portfolio of over twenty-five events per year, a committee of ten, and a six-figure budget. Additional experience includes more than a decade working as an sr. consultant for various corporations leading project management.

Marla has also served on a nonprofit board and with varying community groups. As the Twin Cities Black Employee Network Director, she single-handily accelerated corporate partnerships and boosted event attendance to unprecedented numbers. She delights in the details of planning and finds joy in creating environments for people to learn and develop while building and fostering relationships. In her role at AALF, she will lead the direction, management, and counsel of organizational events and select programs. She will also contribute to amplifying AALF’s work in the community.

In her leisure time, you can still find Marla planning. Pre pandemic, she planned social gatherings and meet-ups, post-pandemic she has become a plant enthusiast (15 so far), a jogger, and a fleeting chef. She enjoys an outdoor adventure, an excellent dramatic TV series, and longs for the day when she can once again plan and attend a live event with several hundred attendees.

Dominic Scott
SENIOR PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Niila Hebert

Niila has worked in the non-profit sector for over 15 years and has used her platform to be an advocate for volunteerism and advancing partnerships of community collaborators and contributors. Niila is energized by working in community, building our village of leaders, and seeking innovative practices to enhance connections in the community.

Niila’s passion for equity, inclusion, access, and justice has propelled her into being an active ally and legislative activist for volunteerism, the Black community, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Niila’s ability to bring high energy, harmony, and positivity into any space solidifies that she is a G.I.R.L (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)

Niila is a New Orleans native who grew up in Los Angeles and now resides in White Bear Lake, with her husband and 2 children.

Niila received her BA in Communications Studies and Minor in Black Studies from California State University Long Beach

Dominic Scott
PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Adora Land Tolefree

Adora is a cultivator of relationships and servant leader who believes collective work is the only way to inspire opportunities for community. For almost 10 years, Adora has worked in the nonprofit sector as a system changer, facilitator of resources, and connector through employment, housing, economic opportunity, and social capital. She is committed to the liberation of Black people by developing collective strategies to increase community wealth through education, economic, and leadership development.

Adora is a native of St. Paul, MN. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities in Sociology of Law and African and African American Studies, as well as a Master’s in Public and Nonprofit Administration from Metropolitan State University.

Board of Directors

Officers

John Taylor, Co-Chair, Director Strategic Sourcing, Medtronic

Dr. Nerita Hughes, Co-Chair, Dean of Business, Technology, Career & Workforce Development, NHCC

Anisha Murphy, Secretary, Adjunct Professor, Hamline University

Carolyn Smallwood, Treasurer, Executive Director, Way to Grow


Members

Sylvia Bartley, BSc (Hons), Pharmacology; PhD, Neurophysiology Global Director, Medtronic Philanthropy

Jeff Hayden, Sr. Government Relations Specialist, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.

Robbin Frazier, Associate Director of Equity and Community Engagement Center for Healthy Aging and Innovation, University of Minnesota

Duchesne Drew, President, Minnesota Public Radio

Stella Whitney West, CEO, NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center

Lauren Boulware, Director, Morgan Stanley

Kevin Lindsey, Executive Director, Minnesota Humanities Center

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