Arleta Little joined the McKnight Foundation in 2013 and serves as a program officer in the Arts program and as director of the McKnight Artist Fellowships Program. In her tenure, Little 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, Little 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. Little 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, Little serves as McKnight’s liaison to a vital network of national arts funders. Little also serves on the board of Headwaters Foundation for Justice and as an Advisory Board member for the St. Paul Foundation’s Pan-African Community Endowment fund. As an active member of the Racial Equity Funders Collaborative in Minnesota and a member of McKnight’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group, Little serves as a local and national champion for increasing equity and justice in philanthropy
Prior to working in philanthropy, Little 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.