Announcement, News, Press Release

GreenLight Announces Founding Executive Director for Twin Cities

Sep 2, 2020

Twin Cities


Simone Hardeman-Jones joins organization to lead 9th GreenLight site

Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN – September 2, 2020 GreenLight Fund welcomes Simone Hardeman-Jones as the founding Executive Director of its ninth expansion site, GreenLight Fund Twin Cities. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Hardeman-Jones will partner with community, industry, entrepreneurial and philanthropic leaders to bring social innovation solutions to the Twin Cities that fill unmet local needs, help break down entrenched barriers, and address deep-rooted disparities in order to create opportunities for children and families to thrive.

Karen Richard, Chief HR Officer, Andersen Corporation and GreenLight ED Search Committee member shared, “I was so impressed with Simone’s strong background, passion for this work, and commitment to our community. I have no doubt that her leadership combined with GreenLight’s proven model will bring innovative, effective solutions to address our region’s toughest challenges.”

With 15 years of policy, partnership and advocacy experience, Simone Hardeman-Jones has committed her career to dismantling the unjust systems that impact the lives of some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our communities. Most recently she was the National Director of Policy and Partnerships at Educators for Excellence (E4E), a national education nonprofit where she set the vision and strategy for E4E’s policy priorities and deepened relationships and collaboration with policymakers, advocates and education leaders at the federal and local levels. Previously she served in multiple roles in the Obama Administration, most recently as a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, and before that as a policy advisor to two U.S. Senators, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and the late Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC). Hardeman-Jones has also spent time working on multiple political campaigns including as Director of African American Outreach for Senator Klobuchar’s 2006 Senate race. She currently serves on the Board of the Minnesota Alliance With Youth, is a Senior Visiting Fellow with the National Council on Teacher Quality and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

“The tragic and senseless murder of George Floyd has laid bare what some already knew – people in the Twin Cities live two very different realities based on the color of their skin and their zip code,” said Simone Hardeman-Jones. “I am thrilled to lead GreenLight Twin Cities during a time of hope and great opportunity and look forward to working hand in hand with our community to select the first GreenLight Twin Cities investment that will deploy the best social innovations to create change.”

In her new role, Hardeman-Jones will assemble a local Selection Advisory Council (SAC) made up of a diverse group of community leaders that will work alongside GreenLight throughout their selection process using the GreenLight Method. The community-driven annual process seeks to find the most effective social innovations to address the needs that matter most to Minneapolis and St. Paul residents facing barriers to prosperity. In implementing the GreenLight Method, Hardeman-Jones and the SAC will look deeply at the racial and economic disparities in the region and the systems and policies that have led to those disparities and identify community needs not yet being addressed. The process will continue by searching the country for proven programs best suited to tackle those needs locally, and selecting and investing in the replication of an innovative program with significant, evidence-based outcomes. GreenLight Twin Cities will help the selected organization reach and sustain impact locally with on-the-ground support, funding, strategic partnership development and accountable measurement systems.

GreenLight Fund’s CEO and Co-founder, Margaret Hall remarked, “We’re thrilled to have Simone on board. Her deep policy experience and passion for equity and justice are strengths that make her an excellent fit to lead GreenLight Twin Cities as we work to identify and invest in strengthening economic mobility opportunities for children and families.” John Simon, GreenLight Fund’s Co-Founder and Board Chair echoed Margaret’s enthusiasm: “I’m excited to have Simone leading the charge in the Twin Cities and supporting innovations that will bring meaningful and measurable impact on entrenched issues facing the local community.”

More than 50 individuals, companies and foundations have contributed over $5M to support the launch and work of GreenLight Twin Cities over its first five years in the city. GreenLight Twin Cities co-founding funders include: Andersen Corporate Foundation, Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation, Anonymous, Julie and Doug Baker Jr. Foundation, Bank of America, Frankie Bennett, Craig Bentdahl, Bush Foundation, C. H. Robinson, Cargill, Margaret A. Cargill Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation, Page and Jay Cowles, DFK Group, Inc., Andrew Dayton, Deloitte, Andrew Duff, Ecolab, Jonathan and Michele Eisele, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Simon Foster and Nikki Sorum, Tim Gokey, Jeff and Terri Greiner, Glen and Nancy Gunderson, HealthPartners, Ann and Chris Hilger, Virginia Hubbard, iHeartMedia, Rick and Gina King, Craig Leipold and Helen Johnson-Leipold, Jim and Norma Leslie Family Foundation, Minnesota Vikings Football, Minnesota Wild, Chuck and Liz Mooty, John W. Mooty Foundation, Rory and Rhonda O’Neill, the Otto Bremer Trust, Amy and Chip Pearson Family Foundation, Todd and Fabiana Peterson, Karen and Bill Richard, Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation, The Sanger Family Foundation, Securian Financial, John and Sue Simon, Julie and Bob Sullivan, Thomson Reuters, Greater Twin Cities United Way, University of St. Thomas, US Bank Foundation, Liz and Tim Welsh, Walter and Karen White, and WMN Foundation.