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Arleta Little

Program Officer and Director of Artist Fellowships


Arleta Little joined McKnight Foundation in 2014 and serves as a program officer in the Arts program and as director of the McKnight Artist Fellowships Program. In her tenure, Arleta has built community with McKnight’s fellowships program partners and defined a research-based rationale for increasing the program’s fellowship support for working artists.

With a background in social research, Arleta collaborated with the University of Minnesota's Center for Urban and Rural Affairs to complete the Yes and No Report: Conversations About Thriving with Artists of Color in the Twin Cities. Arleta served as co-chair of the community advisory group that created the Arts & Culture section of Minnesota Compass, the state’s social indicators project measuring progress on key indicators for quality of life. She also served as the co-chair of the Minnesota Cultural Data Project Task Force and was a founding member of the Creative Minnesota team, establishing the biennial report on the health and impact of artists, creative workers, and nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Minnesota.

As a board member for Grantmakers in the Arts, Arleta serves as McKnight’s liaison to a vital network of national arts funders. Arleta also serves as an Advisory Board member for the St. Paul Foundation’s Pan-African Community Endowment fund. As an active member of the Twin Cities Racial Equity Funders Collaborative and a member of McKnight’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group, Arleta serves as a local and national champion for increasing equity in philanthropy.

Prior to working in philanthropy, Arleta served as the executive director of the Givens Foundation for African American Literature and worked for over 15 years as an organizational development consultant providing strategic planning, program evaluation, and grant writing services to organizations in Minnesota. She is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, a Creative Community Leadership Institute fellow, and a published poet.