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Region & Communities Program Director Lee Sheehy to Retire from McKnight

After 11 years of dedicated service, Lee Sheehy, program director of Region & Communities (R&C) will leave McKnight this summer. Sheehy, who has been planning to step down from his role at the Foundation, looks forward to supporting the transition to new leadership as the Foundation prepares to implement its newly named Vibrant & Equitable Communities program. His last day will be July 31, 2020.

“We are grateful to Lee and his contributions toward advancing McKnight’s mission and creating sustainable and resilient communities throughout Minnesota,” said Pamela Wheelock, interim president. “Our staff and grantees have valued his leadership, his deep knowledge of issues, and his spirit of humble service. We wish him well as he moves on to his next adventure.”

Since joining the Foundation in 2009, Sheehy has focused the program’s place-based work on creating livable communities and expanding opportunities for all people to prosper. Within McKnight’s affordable housing strategy, the Region & Communities program supported Homes for All, a statewide coalition that advances shared policy initiatives that lead to housing stability for all Minnesotans, particularly those who are low-income and people of color. Additionally, the program helped launch Prosperity’s Front Door, a statewide network that produced Minnesota’s first-ever housing scorecard, which examines the state’s progress on key housing measures and proves that keeping people close to jobs, schools, and opportunities is key to achieving housing stability.

“We are grateful to Lee and his contributions toward advancing McKnight’s mission and creating sustainable and resilient communities throughout Minnesota. Our staff and grantees have valued his leadership, his deep knowledge of issues, and his spirit of humble service.” —PAMELA WHEELOCK, INTERIM PRESIDENT

During his tenure, the R&C team worked with partners to establish a new Center for Economic Inclusion, the nation’s first cross-sector organization advancing inclusive growth to achieve regional prosperity. Additionally, McKnight served on the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, an innovative pooled fund that attracted millions of additional dollars to achieve more affordable housing, strong businesses, green space, and thriving neighborhoods along the Green Line of the Metro Transit light rail in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

Prior to his role at McKnight, Sheehy led a career as a dedicated public servant. He was chief deputy attorney general under former Attorney General Hubert H. Humphrey III, and chief of staff for US Sen. Amy Klobuchar. He served the City of Minneapolis as its first-ever executive director of community planning and economic development, and served as regional administrator to the Metropolitan Council during the Ventura administration.

With a BA from Harvard College and a law degree from the University of Minnesota, Sheehy practiced law for 25 years. In the 1970s, he served on the US Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (the “Watergate Committee”). Personally, Sheehy volunteered his time in many public service settings, including as head of the Minnesota Judicial Selection Commission, which increased diversity in judicial appointments across the state.

“I’m proud of the Foundation’s long-term investment in communities and inspired by the coming Vibrant & Equitable Communities program and the impact it will make.” —LEE SHEEHY, DIRECTOR, REGION & COMMUNITIES

“It’s been a privilege to work at McKnight, and any contribution I made was because of the people and places we serve and those who share our commitment to service,” said Sheehy.

“I’m proud of the Foundation’s long-term investment in communities and inspired by the coming Vibrant & Equitable Communities program and the impact it will make.”

With its goal to build a vibrant future for all Minnesotans with shared power, prosperity, and participation, the new Vibrant & Equitable Communities program will honor and build upon learnings from the long-standing work while making space for new ideas. This spring, we will post an open position for the new program director as well as share what we learned from the community input process. We expect to announce the final strategies and program guidelines this fall.

Topic: Vibrant & Equitable Communities

March 2020

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