The Minneapolis Parks Foundation is thrilled to announced Shawn Lewis has joined our team as Project Coordinator, a new position created earlier this year. Shawn will support the mission of the Parks Foundation through project coordination, administration, research, as well as communication with internal and external stakeholders, including community members and public agency staff. His work will further advance the Parks Foundation’s mission of aligning community vision and philanthropic investment toward parks and public spaces in Minneapolis.
Shawn first connected with the Minneapolis Parks Foundation in 2018 at a small group discussion at the Hennepin County Library that the Parks Foundation organized as part of the 2018 Sunrise on the Mississippi Event, featuring Lynn Ross, founder and principal of Spirit for Change Consulting, LLC. Shawn recounts a great walk and talk he took with Tom afterwards along the Mississippi River, where they discussed the Parks Foundation’s RiverFirst initiative. “I’m looking forward to continuing this work along the Mississippi River,” Shawn told me, “and to further engage communities in North Minneapolis. It’s important work we are doing around North Commons Park and with Reimagining the Civic Commons.
Shawn has a BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and has completed graduate level courses in education policy, transportation, and strategic planning at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He has worked in three different organizations as a Project Coordinator, including LifeSource, the Urban League Twin Cities, involving a City Minneapolis employment contract, and Volunteer Lawyers Network involving Hennepin and Ramsey Housing Court. In 2000, Lewis was promoted to a grantmaking position at the Greater Twin Cities United Way. He has managed the allocation process of Basic Needs, Community Investment Fund and Innovation/Expansion special grants.
In addition, Shawn has worked in various library positions at the University of Minnesota’s Biomedical Library, Minneapolis Public Library and Hennepin County Library. Shawn has multiple certifications, including: Essential Skills & Strategies for New Grant makers sponsored by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grant makers and Council on Foundations; Global Career Development Facilitator by the Center for Credentialing and Education, Inc.; and NeighborWorks Center for Homeownership Education and Counseling in Financial Capability.
Outside of work, Shawn enjoys walking with his spouse, casual recreational biking, and reading about trends and analysis in the nonprofit sector. His favorite park is McRae Park in South Minneapolis. “It was very near my house, about four blocks away. When we would play too rough in the house, my mother would say, ‘Go play at McRae,’” says Shawn. “I also played t-ball and softball there while my brother played pee wee football. The coaches were like family uncles to us. We all developed a sense of community in the park.”