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Leadership & Community Power

Our vision is a state where all women, girls, and gender-expansive people are valued as solution-builders and leaders within their communities.

We build community power by investing in leadership, field-building, and movements that center women, girls, and gender-expansive people at the intersection of identities most impacted by systemic injustice.

Young women leaders at an event

About This Impact Area

Community power is the fuel our state needs to change systems and achieve equitable and just
outcomes for all communities. ​We invest in breaking barriers and building power so women and girls see pathways to leadership in every sector.

By supporting the capacity-building and sustainability of organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and women of color, LGBTQ+ people, and women in Greater Minnesota, we build power within and across our state’s communities.

What the Data Shows

Research shows that gender, racial, and other types of diversity in leadership bring clear benefits, from economic innovation to deeper community support for democratic institutions.​

Women in Corporate Leadership

Women have made gains, but Minnesota corporate leadership remains overwhelmingly male.

In 2022, women held 28.2% of corporate board of director seats in these top companies, which has trended up from 15% since 2014. At the current rate, it would take 53 years to reach gender parity. Women of color and Native American women held only 7% of these director seats in 2022, up from 4% in 2020.

Percentage of women in leadership roles in the top Minnesota corporations:

Figure by CWGPP based on data from Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership, 2022.

The Gender Gap within Political Leadership

The number of women in the Minnesota Legislature reached a historic high of 72 women in the 2020 election. In 2023, the Minnesota Legislature swore in its most racially diverse group of lawmakers yet. Legislators of color and Indigenous legislators increased to 32 (18 women, 1 nonbinary) in the 2022-2023 session, up from 25 (13 women) in 2021. However, women of color remain underrepresented relative to their proportion of the state’s population.

Women in the Minnesota Legislature:

CWGPP analysis of data from the MN Legislature Reference Library and the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates for July 1, 2022. Bar heights represent percentage of women of that ethnicity or race in the state Legislature in the session year indicated. Numbers inside the bars indicate the counts of women of the indicated ethnicity or race.

Women in Nonprofit Leadership

Although women comprise 75% of Minnesota nonprofit sector employees, their leadership roles do not reach gender parity with men.

From 2017-2021, only 37% of Minnesota nonprofit leaders were women, up slightly from 34% from 2015-2019. Nonprofit leaders of color make up only 17% of leadership positions, up significantly from 2012-2016 when only 1% of nonprofit leaders were people of color.

Source: “Who Leads Minnesota?” Minnesota Compass, 2022.

“We have an amazing opportunity for transformation. We have an amazing opportunity to build life affirming institutions instead of what we currently have.”

Kandace Montgomery
Genius of Black Women Presentation

How We Build Power

In addition to investing in programs, we use research and communications to educate and mobilize Minnesotans to recognize bias and injustice, build power, expand opportunities, and create equity.

Workplaces can create inclusive policies to ensure that women at the intersection of identities, including Black, Indigenous, women of color, women with disabilities, older women, and LGBTQ+ women are making key decisions. In addition to business, nonprofits, and elected office, leadership takes place in local communities where women innovators, entrepreneurs, and culture-bearers are creating solutions. Making space and investing in women, girls, and gender-expansive people will ensure that solutions created by people and families most impacted will be successful.

Young Women Are Leaders

Raie Gessesse, former Young Women’s Cabinet Member and WFMN Policy Fellow, shares
why she is part of the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota and why supporting other young women of color as leaders is critical for our state’s success.

“In order to start uplifting our young women and teaching them that they are capable, attitudes and behaviors ingrained into our society need to change.” 

Raie Gessesse
Young Women’s Cabinet Alumna, Former Policy Fellow

Latest Updates in Leadership

Our Statewide Impact

Interactive Grants Map

Discover more about Women’s Foundation grantee-partners, statewide. Click on the icon in the upper right of the map to expand the legend and see other options for viewing. Use the drop-down menu in the legend to filter grantee-partners by fund, location, or impact area.

View a larger version of WFMN Grantee-Partner map created with eSpatial mapping software.

Explore Ways to Give

Your support fuels the innovative community-based, community-led work happening across the state. Explore our funding opportunities.