Arleta Little has worked in the nonprofit sector for 15 years, for the past seven as executive director of the Givens Foundation for African American Literature in Minneapolis. The Givens Foundation is the only Twin Cities organization exclusively dedicated to advancing and celebrating black literature and writers. In her capacity as executive director, Little administered arts residencies, author series, and programs for writers. Prior to Givens, she was president of Organizational Development Services, Inc., where she provided strategic planning, grant writing, and program evaluation services to more than 30 organizations in Minnesota. She has served on the boards of Springboard for the Arts, Minnesota AIDS Project, and Friends of the Hennepin County Library.
A 20-year resident of Minnesota, Little has a bachelor's degree in writing and psychology from Pennsylvania State University, and master's degrees both in social work and in public affairs, with an emphasis on public and nonprofit leadership and management in the arts, from the University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota, respectively. She began her career with the Peace Corps, teaching English as a second language in Thailand.
McKnight's arts program goal is to support an environment in which artists are valued leaders in our community, with access to the resources and opportunities they need to succeed. In 2012, approximately 11% (roughly $9.3 million) of McKnight's total payout went to support this goal.