Conversations with Chanda

The Minneapolis Foundation

Conversations with Chanda is a podcast and event series hosted by Chanda Smith Baker, the Minneapolis Foundation’s Chief Impact Officer. Chanda has over 20 years of experience working in, for, and with underestimated communities. Through things like Conversations with Chanda, the Minneapolis Foundation is leading our community on a tough but revealing path of discovery and civic action. We’re calling on everyone to join us in the hard conversations that seek shared understanding. We know even the most candid dialogue remains essentially talk – we seek to spark actions for our community’s grittiest, most vexing problems.

All Episodes

As we continue into the season of giving, we wanted to look back at guests whose work is centered around transforming systems and thinking critically about the power of philanthropy. Hear insights from our episodes featuring Jen Ford Reedy, Toya Randall, Isaiah Oliver, Vu Le, and Shannon Smith Jones. Each guest has dedicated themselves to improving their community and the lives of others.

Dec 3

47 min 53 sec

Tonya Allen, president of the McKnight Foundation, is all about being bold. Chanda spoke with Tonya about building and sharing power, and how that relates to one’s ability to rewrite the rules.

Nov 19

44 min 4 sec

Hubert Joly, former CEO of Best Buy, and Piyumi Samaratunga , a partner at the law firm Constangy, believe that diversity is a business imperative. In this episode, Chanda connected with these two business leaders to talk about the importance of diverse and inclusive teams, the dangers of tokenism, and the power of leading with purpose.

Nov 5

1 hr 11 min

During Kevin Reese’s 14 years of incarceration, he began addressing the injustices that permeate the criminal legal system. Today, he continues that work as the Executive Director of Until We Are All Free. Chanda connected with Kevin to talk about his dedication to restorative justice, reimagining the prison system, and the importance of healing from unchecked and generational trauma.

Oct 22

58 min 40 sec

Emmy award-winning reporter and anchor Jason DeRusha has spent his career bringing people the news. Chanda sat down with Jason to discuss the challenges media faced in the wake of George Floyd's murder and throughout the pandemic. They also dive into how he was been impacted personally and professionally by covering pivotal moments in history.

Oct 8

53 min 55 sec

In this episode of Conversations with Chanda, Minneapolis Foundation President & CEO R.T. Rybak steps in as guest host and speaks with meteorologist Sven Sundgaard about the urgency of climate change and what needs to be done. Sven and R.T. explore how to better explain this increasingly pressing issue to children and others with examples from here in Minnesota and around the world. If you’d like to watch this podcast, check out the Minneapolis Foundation's YouTube channel.

Sep 24

42 min 4 sec

With students once again back in school, it seems appropriate to provide a unique look into what’s being discussed in the field of education here at home and across the country. Over the last two years, Chanda has had a number of engaging and informative guests who are education experts. This episode shares powerful and enlightening clips from previous shows that tie the community to the classroom.

Sep 10

37 min 48 sec

John Rogers is the Co-CEO of Ariel Investments, the global value-based asset management firm he founded in 1983 and first African American-owned asset management firm in American history. Chanda sat down with John to talk about moving away from supplier diversity and into business diversity, along with the importance of creating multigenerational wealth for Black and Brown communities.

Aug 27

42 min

Anthony Smith is the Executive Director of Cities United – a national network focused on eliminating violence in American cities related to Black men and boys. In this episode, Anthony and Chanda talk about Anthony’s path to Cities United, the importance of inspiring our youth, and how to build an ecosystem for community safety.

Aug 13

59 min 40 sec

As president, Jen Ford Reedy helps the Bush Foundation invest in great ideas and the people who power them. Jen sat down with Chanda to talk about philanthropy’s role in transforming systems, the leadership challenges she encountered in 2020, and the art of philanthropic strategy.

Jul 27

1 hr 8 min

Lisa Pawelak has more than 20 years of experience serving students and families in Minneapolis Public Schools. Today, she is the principal at Lucy Craft Laney Community School in North Minneapolis. In this episode, Lisa and Chanda talk about their love of the Northside, the lessons Lisa learned during the pandemic, and how Lisa is helping Lucy Laney be a safe, welcoming space where every student need is acknowledged.

Jul 16

57 min 8 sec

Toya Randall is the curator of Voice. Vision. Value. This digital narrative project celebrates the leadership impact of Black women in philanthropy. Toya connected with Chanda to talk about what it means to be a person of color working in philanthropy, her 2020 experiences, and the benefits and challenges of proximity.

Jul 2

1 hr 9 min

Dr. Yaba Blay is an activist, scholar, speaker, and author of “One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race.” Her work focuses on the lived experiences of Black women and girls. In this episode, Chanda and Yaba talk about the complexities of colorism, the history of Blackness, and the politics of race and identity.

Jun 18

1 hr 3 min

As the Founding Director of NYU’s Policing Project, Barry Friedman is committed to bringing data-driven best practices to policing. In this episode, Barry and Chanda discuss what a holistic view of public safety would look like, why we need to build in more front-end accountability into our policing system, and their upcoming Policing Project partnership.

Jun 4

55 min 45 sec

As a pastor, activist, author, and filmmaker, Dr. Otis Moss III preaches messages of love and justice. Today, he is the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois. Chanda sat down with Otis to talk about his family’s legacy, why our community needs public health – not public safety, and why it’s important to understand the totality of Black history.

May 28

50 min 2 sec

Angela Harrelson and Paris Stevens are the aunt and cousin of George Floyd. Since George’s death, both Angela and Paris have been using their voices to speak up for justice. In this episode, Chanda, Angela, and Paris talk about the global impact of George’s murder, their reactions to Derek Chauvin’s trial, and the courage it takes to fight when you’re in pain.

May 25

1 hr 8 min

As a civil rights lawyer, NYU professor, and President of the ACLU, Deborah Archer works to overcome the systemic injustices in our society every day. Chanda and Deborah connected to talk about how racism affects all aspects of life, the navigational skills you learn as a Black woman, and how the law struggles to keep up with the evolution of racism.

May 14

45 min 56 sec

Jelani Cobb is an award-winning writer for The New Yorker on issues of race, history, justice, and politics. He currently is a part of the Westminster Town Hall Forum’s series, “The Arc Toward Justice: Taking Stock One Year After George Floyd’s Death,” which is sponsored by the Minneapolis Foundation. In this episode, Chanda and Jelani talk about the adultification of Black children, the calculated risks Black people need to consider when interacting with police, and what needs to happen to create meaningful police reform.

May 7

34 min 24 sec

Dr. RaShall Brackney is a recognized expert in community-police relations, procedural and restorative justice practices, and harm reduction. She currently is the Chief of Police in Charlottesville, Virginia. In this episode, Chanda and RaShall talk about how RaShall got into police work, the steps she’s taken to build community trust in her department, and her personal and professional responses to George Floyd’s murder.

Apr 28

1 hr 5 min

Kim Foxx made history when she was elected to be the first African American woman to lead the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Illinois. Chanda connected with Kim to talk about how her upbringing informs her leadership, the struggles of representing institutions, and the support systems that keep her grounded.

Apr 16

47 min 16 sec

Kareem Farah is an educator and Co-Founder of the Modern Classrooms Project – a nonprofit that empowers educators to meet student needs through blended, self-paced, mastery-based instruction. In this episode, Chanda and Kareem talk about the 21st-century skills that need to be taught in the classroom, the importance of trauma-informed teaching, and how COVID-19 has affected education.

Apr 2

1 hr 2 min

Elizer Darris is the Co-Executive Director of the Minnesota Freedom Fund – an organization that disrupts the predatory practices of criminal bail and immigration bonds. Chanda sat down with Elizer to talk about the trappings of the criminal justice system and what it takes to be a changemaker.

Mar 26

1 hr

Jim Bear Jacobs is dedicated to bringing to light the Indigenous stories of Minnesota. This includes his “Healing Minnesota Stories” work at the Minnesota Council of Churches. In this episode, Chanda and Jim discuss how storytelling can spark consciousness, the ways philanthropy has shifted strategies over the past decade, and how trauma can resurface in unexpected ways.

Mar 12

1 hr 10 min

Drew Evans is the Superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). Chanda met Drew in 2019 when she was a part of a state-led working group on police-involved deadly force encounters. In this episode, Drew and Chanda talk about the BCA’s role in the criminal justice system, the laws and circumstances that can prevent justice, and how the BCA is trying to build community trust and transparency in its work.

Mar 5

45 min 23 sec

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is an award-winning author and anti-racist scholar. His latest book, “Four Hundred Souls,” is a collaborative effort that showcases the history of African Americans from 1619 to 2019. Chanda and Dr. Kendi connected to talk about the importance of anti-racist education, the struggles of reimagining public safety, and why we need to invest in narrative change work.

Feb 19

27 min 1 sec

As President of North Central University in Minneapolis, Scott Hagan found himself propelled into the national spotlight last year when the university was asked to host George Floyd’s memorial. Chanda sat down to talk to Scott about that experience, his journey to understanding racism on a systemic level, and how he’s trying to use his platform for good.

Feb 12

59 min 16 sec

As a scholar and author, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. writes about the complexities of race and the American experience. His latest book is “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own.” Chanda and Eddie connected to talk about the intersection of greed and racism, the pitfalls of symbolic representation, and how to prevent burnout while working toward justice.

Jan 29

42 min 39 sec

For nine years of his life, Christian Picciolini was part of the neo-Nazi movement. Now, the former extremist runs the Free Radicals Project where he helps individuals, families, and communities disengage from hate- and violence-based extremism. Christian was in Minnesota in late 2019 for a community listening session on hate crimes with local faith and political leaders, including Attorney General Keith Ellison. Before the event, Chanda, Keith, and Christian sat down to talk about the rise of hate and intolerance, how trauma can lead to hate, and how we can best prevent extremism.

Jan 22

34 min 36 sec

Isaiah Oliver is the President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. In this conversation, Chanda and Isaiah discover that they share similar paths to their roles in philanthropy. They discuss the support systems that help them lead, the national and local issues affecting the work, and how philanthropy needs to evolve to stay relevant and effective.

Jan 15

59 min 59 sec

Dr. Christopher Emdin is an associate professor of science education at Teachers College, Columbia University and the author of the New York Times bestseller, “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all Too.” Chanda and Chris took time to discuss the major challenges in our education system – especially for brown and black students, the positive and negative effects of narratives, and why we need to activate the imagination of our youth.

Dec 2020

56 min 44 sec

Michael Vick’s career has gone through a tremendous rise, fall, and redemption. Today, the former NFL quarterback works hard to show up for his community. Chanda and Michael talk about what it was like for Michael to grow up in Newport News, the importance of a strong support system, and the actions he’s taking to strengthen prison reform and youth development.

Nov 2020

44 min 6 sec

From 1994 to 2001, Sharon Sayles Belton served as mayor of Minneapolis. She was the first woman and first African American to hold that position. Sharon and Chanda connected to talk about the importance of relationships in community building work, philanthropy’s role in bringing people together, and why complicated problems need complex solutions.

Nov 2020

1 hr

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx partnered with the Minneapolis Foundation to pursue justice, equity, and healing in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders and player Josh Okogie connected with Chanda to discuss how sports have shaped their perspectives on racial justice, how they’re using their leadership and platforms for good, and why silence is not an option.

Oct 2020

43 min 34 sec

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, the Minnesota Lynx and Timberwolves partnered with The Minneapolis Foundation to pursue justice, equity, and healing through our Fund for Safe Communities. Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve and player Napheesa Collier sat down with Chanda to talk about how they weave social justice into their games, how they approach making meaningful change, and why it’s important to speak up for those who don’t have a platform.

Oct 2020

25 min 17 sec

As a pastor, activist, and philanthropist, Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson has a wide range of experience fighting for racial justice. In this episode, Chanda and Starsky process the recent grand jury decision in the Breonna Taylor case. They also discuss the lessons Starsky learned during the Ferguson protests, philanthropy’s role in this moment, and the responsibility we all have to the next generation.

Sep 2020

59 min 13 sec

Ron Heifetz is a world-renown professor, author, and authority on the topic of leadership. One of his books, “Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Change,” has been instrumental to Chanda’s approach to leadership. Chanda connected with Ron to talk about the self-care practices leaders need to establish, the disparities and opportunities that crises reveal, and the work white people need to do in order to pursue racial justice.

Sep 2020

1 hr 8 min

Vu Le returns! The creator of Nonprofit AF is back to tackle questions that attendees sent to Chanda and Vu during our first-ever virtual Conversations with Chanda. Together, they discuss how fundraising needs to be grounded in justice, the difficulties of navigating racist systems as people of color, and how they’re finding joy and levity during this heavy time.

Sep 2020

1 hr 4 min

Our first-ever virtual Conversations with Chanda event guest was Vu Le, the creator of Nonprofit AF. Vu and Chanda talk about what community-centric philanthropy looks like, how philanthropy can be responsive during times of crisis, and the many pressing challenges facing the nonprofit sector.

Aug 2020

56 min 51 sec

Tom Weber is an award-winning journalist, a former host for Minnesota Public Radio news, and the author of “Minneapolis: An Urban Biography.” Chanda and Tom got together to discuss the importance of bringing historical context into tough conversations, the untold stories of Minneapolis, and the laws and structures that have shaped the city.

Aug 2020

1 hr 4 min

Nicholas Buccola’s background in American political thought led him to write his book, “The Fire Is upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America.” Nicholas connected with Chanda to talk about how James Baldwin and William Buckley’s infamous debate came to fruition, the fortress of white supremacy, and why we need to come to terms with our history in order to move forward with justice.

Jul 2020

1 hr 18 min

Financial advisor and former pro basketball player, P.J. Hill, has deep roots in Minneapolis. After George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, P.J. was inspired to step up and help his community demand change. P.J. and Chanda got together to discuss what it takes to be change agents within institutions, the weight of leadership, and how we can move from protest to true reform.

Jul 2020

49 min 42 sec

As the Founder of Don’t Complain, Activate and President of the Minneapolis NAACP, Leslie Redmond is deeply involved in civil rights advocacy in Minneapolis. Leslie connected with Chanda to talk about the nuances of what it means to defund or disband the police, what white allies need to know to get involved, and why we all need to take advantage of this moment to transform our systems.

Jun 2020

50 min 15 sec

George Floyd’s murder has sparked outrage and change in Minneapolis and around the world. During this heavy, traumatic moment, how do Black leaders continue to drive change and take care of themselves? Nina Robertson, Step Up’s Youth Employment Program Director, and Brandon Williams, The Minneapolis Foundation’s Criminal Justice and Safe Communities Fellow, are living it. Chanda, Nina, and Brandon talk about their personal experiences with the police, their involvement with The Minneapolis Foundation’s Fund for Safe Communities, and the importance of fighting for transformational change – even at a time of exhaustion.

Jun 2020

1 hr 9 min

Larry McKenzie is an author, speaker, and six-time high school championship basketball coach in North Minneapolis. Larry connected with Chanda over Zoom to talk about what makes someone an effective leader, how to combat negative narratives in our communities, and the profound impact extracurricular activities have on our youth.

Jun 2020

1 hr 6 min

Shannon Smith Jones has more than a decade of experience in community development, housing justice, and community engagement. Today, she’s the Executive Director of Hope Community. She’s also Chanda’s sister. Chanda and Shannon got together to discuss what it’s like to lead during COVID-19, the complexities and ripple effects of the pandemic, and how foundations should be using their power right now.

May 2020

1 hr 4 min

Richard Rothstein is an academic, historian, and author of “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.” Together, Chanda and Richard talk about segregation and its connection to our nation’s disparities, how government policies can reinforce stereotypes, and why understanding our history can help us reconcile our past.

May 2020

50 min 15 sec

The COVID-19 outbreak has rapidly changed the lives of billions of people around the world. To better understand this pandemic, Chanda turned to two experts – Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, a CDC-trained medical epidemiologist, and Natalie Davis, the Senior Director of Public Engagement at United States of Care. Chanda, Lisa, and Natalie discuss the damage of misinformation, why solutions need to be community-informed, and how philanthropy can best respond to this crisis.

Apr 2020

59 min 34 sec

Rev. Osagyefo Sekou is a Renaissance Man – a musician, organizer, theologian, author, and documentary filmmaker. He was on the ground during the Ferguson and Charlottesville protests. Chanda sat down with Rev. Sekou to talk about the many layers of civil disobedience, philanthropy’s role in activism, and how the fight for racial justice has evolved.

Apr 2020

58 min 27 sec

Andrea Jenkins is a politician, community leader, artist, and activist. She is known for being the first African American openly transgender woman elected to public office in the U.S. Chanda and Andrea discuss the importance of owning your truth, why representation and policy matters, and the struggles of navigating systems that were built on racism.

Apr 2020

54 min 37 sec

Jillian Peterson is the Co-Founder of the Violence Project — a nonpartisan think tank dedicated to reducing violence and improving policy and practice through research and analysis. Chanda and Jillian sat down together to talk about the psychology of mass shootings, the best ways to prevent this violence, and the power of human connection during times of crisis.

Mar 2020

51 min 19 sec