Makeda Zulu-Gillespie has been named as the new executive director of the Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC).
Zulu-Gillespie brings to the position a wealth of experience and commitment to advancing UROC’s mission. She is one of the original staff members of UROC, serving as the center’s first director of Community Outreach. Starting in 2006, three years before the doors of the UROC building were opened, Zulu-Gillespie worked with UROC’s founding executive director on shaping UROC’s mission and establishing the center’s strategic communications agenda. Through the years, she facilitated dozens of partnerships between University of Minnesota faculty researchers and community organizations, playing an important role in the hiring and training of community residents for the launch of the UROC Research Action Team on Mortgage Foreclosure and Youth Violence. In addition, she oversaw the training of UROC student interns, graduate research students, staff, volunteers, and AmeriCorps VISTAs.
A long-time resident of North Minneapolis, Zulu-Gillespie brings to the position close to 30 years of experience leading urban and community development. Prior to arriving at UROC, she served as senior director at the YMCA’s Minneapolis Headquarters (1991-2000) and then as executive director of Quest for Excellence (2001-2003), which is a program funded by the Minneapolis Empowerment Zone that prepares urban youth for college and careers. She then served as a community organizer for the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council (2003-2006) for which she managed initiatives for the Northside Neighborhood Revitalization Program and coordinated community meetings for the University Northside Partnership.
Zulu-Gillespie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Grambling State University and a Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
As UROC’s executive director, she will provide executive oversight of UROC’s strategic planning, revenue generation, financial stewardship, organizational development, staff management, and operational activities.