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Greater Twin Cities United Way Announces New Senior Vice President of Community Impact

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United Way Staff


Hope Community Leader Shannon Smith Jones to Join United Way

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (July 20, 2023)Greater Twin Cities United Way (United Way) announced today that Shannon Smith Jones will join the organization as its new Senior Vice President of Community Impact. Reporting to President and CEO John Wilgers and serving as an integral member of the organization’s Executive Leadership Team, Jones will lead the team that oversees United Way’s holistic grantmaking, innovation initiatives, advocacy and external engagement, 211 resource helpline and 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, and impact management and operations.

“Shannon is an innovative, community-focused leader who brings over 15 years of community impact experience to this role,” said John Wilgers, president and CEO of Greater Twin Cities United Way. “She is passionate about systems change and ensuring those who have historically been left out of conversations have a seat at the table. We are grateful to have her join our organization.”

Jones joins United Way after six years as the executive director of Hope Community, a nonprofit based in Minneapolis’s Phillips neighborhood focused on innovative and equitable urban transformation and leadership development. While at Hope, Jones successfully led the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic, launched the Best Buy Teen Technology Center, and directed Hope’s overall fundraising strategy, including increasing committed funds.

“I am truly excited to be taking on the role of Senior Vice President of Community Impact for Greater Twin Cities United Way,” said Jones. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue the work of impacting community and systems, in more expansive ways.”

In her new role, Jones will oversee United Way’s dynamic grantmaking strategy, strategic community partnerships, coalition building, and systems change work – all in service to people in the Greater Twin Cities living at 200 percent of poverty or below in the areas of household stability, educational success and economic opportunity.

“We were really pleased to have had so many qualified candidates for this position, and that we were able to pick Shannon to be our leader moving forward,” said Chris Dolan, Community Impact Chair of the Board of Directors at Greater Twin Cities United Way, who was a member of the search committee.

A longtime community advocate, Jones has served at several local nonprofits, including Urban Homeworks, Sabathani Community Center and Pillsbury United Communities. A dedicated civic leader, Jones serves on the Board of Trustees for the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Board of Directors for Project for Pride in Living and the Advisory Committee for the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity. Her volunteer experiences include Emerging Leaders in Community Development, Girls in Action and Fair Housing Advisory Committee. Jones is also an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where she teaches Neighborhood Revitalization Strategies and Theories.

“Shannon’s life’s work is focused on community empowerment, community change, and finding and promoting holistic social justice solutions to the inequities that exist today. It is with fierce joy and love we send Shannon on her way to United Way to continue her life’s work!” said LaCora Bradford Kesti and María Pabón Gautier, Co-Chairs of the Board of Directors for Hope Community.

Jones has a Bachelor of Science degree in family social science from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and has completed all coursework toward a Master of Arts degree in leadership and management from Concordia University St. Paul. She lives in North Minneapolis with her partner and kids.


About Greater Twin Cities United Way: Greater Twin Cities United Way unites changemakers, advocates for social good and develops solutions to address the challenges no one can solve alone to create a community where all people thrive. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Contact: Liz Skree, Greater Twin Cities United Way,, 651-334-7764

About the Author

Greater Twin Cities United Way unites changemakers, advocates for social good and develops solutions to address the challenges no one can solve alone to create a community where all people thrive. Together with our partners, we’re meeting immediate community needs while transforming inequitable systems in the areas of housing, food, education and jobs.

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