Honoring history and heritage, Insight News, in partnership with the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, profiles past and emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community.

Celebrating The Future
image1237445Nneka Morgan is an investment professional who brings to her clients more than ten years of demonstrated experience with some of the country’s most prestigious financial services firms. Morgan currently works at Merrill Lynch. Since joining the firm in 2008, Morgan has developed strategies using varied investment vehicles to assist clients with better managing and enhancing their wealth. Her portfolio includes advisement to institutions, nonprofit organizations, and small to medium size businesses, high-net-worth individuals, and senior executives.

Morgan understands her ability to reach back and pull forward in every step of her journey. She is an active leader within the community and uses her knowledge and influence to advance racial equality. She is an Appointed Commissioner with the St. Paul Port Authority, a Trustee for Hamline University and sits on the board of directors for Regions Hospital and for Capital City Properties.

Morgan uses her knowledge and experience to empower community and promote healthy financial habits. She is the host of Financial Fitness, a program on KMOJ-FM radio focused on financial health. On her show, Morgan stresses the importance of financial literacy. She is deeply committed to lending her expertise to community organizations and individuals in need of financial literacy. Each year, Morgan hosts several community forums focused on the importance accumulating wealth and saving.

Morgan graduated cum laude from Howard University, with a B.A. in International Business and Finance. Morgan also received additional education in Japanese at Richmond College in Shizuoka, Japan and Middlebury College. In 2007, she was named one of Ebony Magazine’s “30 Young Leaders Under 30″. In 2008, Morgan served as a Marshall Memorial Fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States. In her spare time, she serves as Financial Literacy Engagement Director for the Center of Communications & Development and performs with the Grammy Award Winning group “Sounds of Blackness.” Morgan has quickly emerged as both a well respected and immensely powerful voice for the Twin Cities African American community.

Most rewarding work experience
I’ve been afforded the opportunity to serve as a commissioner with the St. Paul Port Authority, Trustee for Hamline University, and a member of the Regions Hospital board of directors. In these positions, I use my influence to help some of the state’s largest employers address the issues of jobs, education, and healthcare and draw attention to the disparities and needs of the community I love. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my community, and I’m committed to ensuring it receives a return on its investment.

Advice for aspiring finance professionals
Remember you’re running your own marathon, don’t get distracted with anyone else’s time but your own. Your path is uniquely carved by you, run it with confidence and try not to get too distracted by bystanders.

Beacons of leadership
I am inspired by people of purpose that have carved their own path and those who have overcome obstacles along the way. These people of purpose include; Cynthia Johnson, Tene Morgan, Shimeca Saffold, Tetra Constantino, Cindy Kent, Carla Harris and Phyllis Goff. It certainly takes a village, and there is a long list of people that have poured directly into me, but there is an even longer list of those that do it by example. I’m grateful for all the sheroes and heroes that have taken residence in my village.
 St. Paul
 Richmond College – Shizuoka Japan, 2001
 Howard University B.A, 2003

image1237452Irene Quarshie is the Vice President of Product Quality and Responsible Sourcing for Target Corporation. Quarshie began her career as a strategy and management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton. She spent three years in the government affairs industry as a legislative analyst and political action committee manager. In 2005, Quarshie began her career with Target Corporation. At Target, She has held many leadership positions, including Senior Group Manager of Corporate Risk and Responsibility and Group Manager of Supplier Diversity. As a senior group manager, her responsibilities included; enterprise risk management, environmental sustainability, and reputation management. On the Supplier Diversity team, she led the strategy and execution of minority and woman-owned business development programs.

In 2009, Quarshie became Director of Government Affairs at Target. As Director, she administered the strategic management of all government affairs activities at state and local levels nationwide. Her team advanced public policy initiatives closely aligned with Target’s business and corporate reputation priorities. She also built and maintained relationships with key policy makers and third parties based on prioritized policy issues and proactive reputation management strategies.

Today, as Vice President of Product Quality and Responsible Sourcing, Quarhsie is responsible for Target’s product quality assurance efforts, ensuring products are made with ethics and integrity. She leads a global team of more than 350 people focused on all non-food, private label, product safety and quality assurance, product investigations, and recall, and responsible sourcing. She ensures that both, Target’s products and factory work conditions, are safe.

Quarshie is a highly revered cross-sector professional with Fortune 30 leadership experience including public affairs and corporate social responsibility. She holds a B.A. in political science from Adelphi University and Master’s in Public Policy from American University. Her graduate paper on juvenile justice was published in A Comparative Perspective on Major Social Problems. Among her many affiliations, she is a member of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable, Junior League of Minneapolis and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is currently the Board Chair of the YWCA of Minneapolis, and also serves on several Boards of Directors – Cowles Center for Performing Arts, Meet Minneapolis, and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Most rewarding work experience
In my first role at Target, I was able to build public-private partnerships in the Twin Cities and across the nation. These partnerships were focused on enhancing relationships with law enforcement and communities in which Target operates. Our collective efforts established “safe cities” by leveraging technology and old fashion community engagement. It was the authentic “on the ground, get your hands dirty” type of work that had great impact.

Later, as Director of Government Affairs, I really got to know the state of Minnesota in depth and forged relationships with policy makers and community. I participated in several Inner-City Leadership visits hosted by the St. Paul and Minneapolis Regional Chambers of Commerce. As a Minnesota transplant, these opportunities allowed me to become aware of and understand issues impacting the Twin Cities. It also inspired me to become more active in the community, which is when I joined several boards such as the YWCA of Minneapolis and Hennepin-Carver County Workforce Investment Board.

Now, I am in a position where I can meaningfully impact millions of lives globally. It’s a truly rewarding and awesome challenge.

Advice for future leaders in private sector
Take risks – I took a major risk when I left my career in consulting to come work for Target, but it has paid off tremendously. Also, seek out opportunities, and work hard when those opportunities arrive. This work is not for the faint at heart. It takes commitment and dedication; you have to be willing to put in the effort. Additionally, build and nurture a network of coaches and mentors. It really does take a village…and good timing.

Beacons of leadership
The blessing of Minnesota is that there are so many amazing leaders to learn and draw from. I am fortunate to be able to know many of these people. When I first joined the board of the YWCA, Velma Korbel was the board chair. I learned a lot from how she led the board and managed important issues facing the organization. Becky Roloff, who is YWCA’s President and CEO, also inspired me. She established a blossoming career in the private sector and now reminds us all of the importance of giving back. The YWCA Board is chalk-full of impressive leaders and I’ve learned tidbits from many of them.

At Target, there have been many leaders, mentors and sponsors that I’ve watched and learned from afar and have also been blessed to work with to help hone my leadership skills. Target has a long track record of grooming great leaders. Over the course of my 10 years at the company, I’ve had numerous opportunities to practice, develop and grow.

And, of course, my family will always be my anchor. They encourage, inspire, and motivate me daily.
 Silver Springs, Maryland
 Adelphi University, B.A.
 American University, MPP

March 7, 2016
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