Karen Kelley-Ariwoola, Chief Operations Officer


Karen Kelley-Ariwoola, long-time resident of the Northside, is a distinguished senior executive who has spent her career working at the intersection of community needs and assets, philanthropic resources, and programmatic and policy solutions. In her work, Karen champions racial equity and inclusion to remove structural and institutional barriers—especially in education. Karen is joining NAZ this summer and comes to NAZ after serving as Vice President of Advancement at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and as Chief of External Relations for the Harvest Network of Schools. Karen spent nearly twenty years in senior leadership at The Minneapolis Foundation (including serving as Interim President and CEO 2006/2007). Her early career experience includes management roles in organizations focused on teen parenting, early childhood education and family support. Karen is a former member and chair of the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) board, former chair of the Minnesota Council of Foundations, and also served on the national board of the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE). She holds an M.A. in Family Support Studies from DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois and a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Western Illinois University. Karen has received numerous professional awards including the Arthur Weinberg Memorial Prize for her Master’s thesis, the ABFE 21st Annual James Joseph Lecturer and Leadership Award, and the “Nancy” Award for Leadership in Early Childhood.