Karen Kelley-Ariwoola Lauded for Community Contributions

Karen Kelley-Ariwoola

Last night The Minneapolis Foundation hosted an emotional celebration of the many accomplishments of Karen Kelley-Ariwoola, soon-to-be-former vice president, community philanthropy. She is concluding 18 years of dedicated community service and leadership with the foundation.

Guests and speakers included a who’s who of leaders from the Twin Cities, from major philanthropic organizations, and from the local and national African-American community. Just a few include:

  • Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who thanked Kelley-Ariwoola for sharing honest insights and guidance when he was still a wet-behind-the-ears city official. Rybak challenged every guest to follow her example by reaching out today to help just one other person in need in the community.
  • Emmett Carson, former leader of The Minneapolis Foundation and current CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Carson first hired Kelley-Ariwoola in Minneapolis and served as her mentor for many years.
  • Gladys Washington, chair of the board of the Association of Black Foundation Professionals (ABFE). Washington made the surprise announcement that Kelley-Ariwoola has been named the 21st James A. Joseph Lecturer, which is ABFE’s award of distinction for philanthropic leadership in support of Black communities.

Sandy Vargas, current president and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation, topped off the honors by revealing that the foundation had established a $20,000 donor-advised fund in Kelley-Ariwoola’s name, giving her discretion to make gifts to the nonprofit causes about which she cares most.

Kelley-Ariwoola graciously thanked everyone for the honors and reminded all that, after she takes time with her family, she will return to community service, advocating for children and others in need.

While the Minnesota Council on Foundations is grateful for Karen Kelley-Ariwoola’s many years of leadership with our association (most recently as board chair), we are even more thankful for the positive difference that she has made in our community. We eagerly look forward to her return as a community builder and servant leader.

– Wendy Wehr, MCF v.p. of  communications and information services

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