Simone Hardeman-Jones has been named the founding Executive Director of the GreenLight Fund Twin Cities. Hardeman-Jones will partner with community, industry, entrepreneurial and philanthropic leaders to bring social innovation solutions to the Twin Cities that fill unmet local needs, help break down entrenched barriers, and address deep-rooted disparities in order to create opportunities for children and families to thrive. GreenLight Fund Twin Cities is the organization’s ninth expansion site.
“The tragic and senseless murder of George Floyd has laid bare what some already knew - people in the Twin Cities live two very different realities based on the color of their skin and their zip code,” said Hardeman-Jones. “I am thrilled to lead GreenLight Twin Cities during a time of hope and great opportunity and look forward to working hand in hand with our community to select the first GreenLight Twin Cities investment that will deploy the best social innovations to create change.”
In her new role, Hardeman-Jones will assemble a local Selection Advisory Council (SAC) made up of a diverse group of community leaders that will work alongside GreenLight throughout their selection process using the GreenLight Method. The community-driven annual process seeks to find the most effective social innovations to address the needs that matter most to Minneapolis and St. Paul residents facing barriers to prosperity. In implementing the GreenLight Method, Hardeman-Jones and the SAC will look deeply at the racial and economic disparities in the region and the systems and policies that have led to those disparities and identify community needs not yet being addressed. The process will continue by searching the country for proven programs best suited to tackle those needs locally, and selecting and investing in the replication of an innovative program with significant, evidence-based outcomes. GreenLight Twin Cities will help the selected organization reach and sustain impact locally with on-the-ground support, funding, strategic partnership development and accountable measurement systems.
With 15 years of policy, partnership and advocacy experience, Hardeman-Jones has committed her career to dismantling the unjust systems that impact the lives of some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Most recently she was the National Director of Policy and Partnerships at Educators for Excellence (E4E), a national education non-profit where she set the vision and strategy for E4E’s policy priorities and deepened relationships and collaboration with policymakers, advocates and education leaders at the federal and local levels. Previously she served in the Obama Administration as a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, and prior to that as a policy advisor to two U.S. Senators, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and the late Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC).
Hardeman-Jones has also spent time working on multiple political campaigns including as Director of African American Outreach for Klobuchar’s 2006 senate race. She currently serves on the Board of the Minnesota Alliance With Youth, is a Senior Visiting Fellow with the National Council on Teacher Quality and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
GreenLight Fund’s CEO and Co-founder, Margaret Hall said: “We’re thrilled to have Simone on board. Her deep policy experience and passion for equity and justice are strengths that make her an excellent fit to lead GreenLight Twin Cities as we work to identify and invest in strengthening economic mobility opportunities for children and families.”
John Simon, GreenLight Fund’s Co-Founder and Board Chair echoed Margaret’s enthusiasm: “I’m excited to have Simone leading the charge in the Twin Cities and supporting innovations that will bring meaningful and measurable impact on entrenched issues facing the local community.”
More than 50 individuals, companies and foundations have contributed over $5M to support the launch and work of GreenLight Twin Cities over its first five years in the city. Click here for the list of GreenLight Twin Cities co-founding funders.
The GreenLight Fund transforms the lives of children, youth and families in high-poverty urban areas by creating local infrastructure and a consistent annual process to: identify critical needs; import innovative, entrepreneurial programs that have a significant, measurable impact; and galvanize local support to help programs reach and sustain impact in the new city. Started in Boston in 2004 and launched in the Twin Cities in 2020, the nonprofit organization is addressing critical needs in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Kansas City, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Twin Cities. More information at greenlightfund.org.