Starters

Editor's Note

What can you do for your community?

By Steve LeBeau
Thu, 2017-02-16 13:34

This is the first time since I have become editor in chief that I actually know the people on the front cover. I worked with Angela Davis years ago at KSTP-TV, and I met Duchesne Drew when we were both on the board of the local branch of the Society of Professional Journalists. One year, the SPJ holiday party was at their house. We were all part of the journalistic community, and would occasionally run into each other at journalistic events.

But lately, I’ve run into them in different contexts. Business contexts. Angela moved over to WCCO-TV at some point, and like many prominent broadcasters, she’s often asked to be the emcee at various events. Since the offers are so many, you can tell something about TV anchors by the events they agree to do. Last fall, I saw her preside over two gigs, the annual award show of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, and at the annual gala of MEDA — the Metropolitan Economic Development Association — which guides and invests in entrepreneurs of color.

With Angela’s interest in business and community, it was a good fit when she agreed to be our emcee for this year’s Community Impact Awards, which honors excellence by a business or nonprofit in its efforts to create positive change in their communities. She’s a real pro with a heart.

I also ran into Duchesne last fall, at the Guthrie Theater for a meeting of a subset of Greater MSP called Make It MSP. Duchesne had been at the Star Tribune forever, first as a reporter and then behind the scenes. But he was at the Make It MSP event in his new role as Community Network Vice President for the Bush Foundation. The focus was the need to attract and retain talented professionals in the Twin Cities, in order to sustain our economic growth. The trouble is that we are No. 1 at recruiting professionals of color, but rank 14 out of 25 metro areas in retaining them. What can we do? Coincidentally enough, one thing we can do is hope they fall in love, get married and raise a family here, which is precisely what Angela and Duschesne did. They’re not just a power couple, they’re role models.

State and local governments help out by making sure some of their expenditures go to entrepreneurs of color or women-owned businesses. Another tack is to spotlight your industry as an inclusive and vibrant one, as Nick Roseth did with his DocuMNtary on the local tech community. Yet even the tech sector in Minnesota is judged from the outside by its overall context or ecosystem, which tends to be risk-averse.

On average, Minnesotans tend to be a hesitant lot, and may need a little push to get involved as volunteers for a larger cause. That is precisely why we need to pay attention to the everyday heroes among us, whether one charges forth to promote wellness in the community, or overcomes a potentially fatal bout with cancer to renew their life.

Congratulations to all who go beyond your comfort zone to improve the community-at-large. You are all winners!