Michelle Martin, VP of Collaboration and Innovation


Michelle Martin began work in North Minneapolis as a co-founder of the PEACE Foundation, the predecessor organization to the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ). As a white woman, she began her path in 2003 as an ally in the work across race for the purpose of ending disparities in North Minneapolis. What began as a call to action to find solutions to disparities of violence in North Minneapolis grew into an upstream, comprehensive strategy through the development of NAZ….a results-driven collaborative designed to break through systemic barriers to success. Starting in 2008, Michelle co-chaired the formative steering committee for NAZ, co-lead development of the model, secured the Promise Neighborhood designation and served in the COO role through 2018.

Michelle is committed to helping to repair broken systems in ways that shift power back to the community — enabling neighbors themselves to drive the positive change on the Northside. In 2019, Michelle shifted from COO to Vice President of Collaboration & Innovation. A new parallel role of Vice President of Program & Impact is now held by Alysha Price, an African American woman from North Minneapolis. Celebrating the elevation and contribution of talented leaders of color is an indication of the success of the NAZ model and signals the intentionality to cultivate the power shift necessary to have true activation of the NAZ purpose. In her VP role, Michelle focuses on data-driven, collaborative innovation and tackling issues at the root of the problem, such as understanding and mitigating the impacts of racial trauma, to truly reach our goal of the Northside succeeding at the same rate as the rest of the region.  Michelle holds a social work degree from Valparaiso University and has a yoga instructor certification.