Gary Cunningham will step down as president and CEO of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda), accepting the role of president of the Washington, D.C. based nonprofit, Prosperity Now.
Under Cunningham’s leadership, Meda earned a national reputation for excellence, secured thousands of jobs in the local community and grew its financial assets. According to the organization, his work helped minority businesses create and retain 6,860 jobs, secure $86.2 million in lending capital and win $4.332 billion in corporate and governmental contracts. Meda’s financial assets grew 221 percent to $25.2 million and its lending capital for minority entrepreneurs by 535 percent to $21.4 million. Meda was also recognized as a top performing MBDA Business Center in the county for three years in a row (2016-2018).
“It’s been a privilege to come to work each day at Meda,” said Cunningham. “I’m enormously proud of everything we’ve achieved together for businesses and the community, and I have absolute faith in the deep bench of talented and committed professionals here that will continue our mission with great success.”
Other milestones include launching of The Meda Million Dollar Challenge, said to be the largest minority-exclusive entrepreneurial pitch competition in the country; and development of the Expanding Black Business Credit Initiative and Black Vision Fund, designed to increase lending to Black-owned businesses by 250 percent. Cunningham also was instrumental in the creation of Catalyst, a consortium of seven Minnesota-based minority business development organizations aligning services to increase the collective impact on minority-owned businesses.
“Gary has been an integral part of Meda’s vision, growth and success and we’ll miss him, of course,” said Barbara Butts Williams, board chair, Meda. “We’re fortunate that there’s a rich pool of unbelievably talented professionals and leaders from across the country that we’re excited to open conversations with as we search for our next CEO. It’s an opportunity to build on what Gary achieved and establish Meda’s strategic footprint for the next five years and beyond.”
Cunningham will remain in his role through June 28.
“We are thrilled that Gary – a longtime friend and board member of Prosperity Now – will be taking the helm as the organization embarks on its next phase of growth,” said Asheesh Advani, Prosperity Now board chair and Brandee McHale, chair of the search committee in a jointly issued statement. “Gary brings decades of experience as a leader of philanthropic, health care, public policy and educational organizations. His expertise – both deep and broad – is an ideal match for the many facets of Prosperity Now’s vision, work and strategy. Most importantly, Gary brings a spirit of service, a heart for mission, and a deep commitment to advancing equity and opportunity, particularly within communities of color.”
A national search for his replacement begins immediately.