First Elected - February 2003
Don immigrated to the US from Jamaica in 1970 to study Industrial Design. He resigned his position as Senior Director of Research & Development at Playskool to head his own small business, inventing and designing toys for major toy manufacturers. Don also graduated with a Masters of Divinity in 2001 from the Luther Seminary.
After emerging as a strong voice for peace in his North Minneapolis neighborhood, Don was urged by his neighbors to run for public office. With their support, Don was first elected to the Minneapolis City Council in February 2003.
Don Co-chairs the Executive Committee of the Empowerment Zone Board, is the Chair of the Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee, and serves as the only Northside representative on the City’s Community Development Committee.
As a public servant, Don has kept his focus on the Northside’s three most pressing issues: safety, housing and jobs.
Don initiated city action to address problem businesses, he has held property owners accountable for social conduct and is attracting quality developers to the Northside housing market. Don has brought over $2 million additional resources for public safety in personnel and technology, he has attracted over $100 Million in economic development to West Broadway, $100 million development to Penn and Plymouth and helped bring over 1,000 jobs to youth and the hard to employ.
Don consistently works to recruit quality employers to North Minneapolis. In his role as a Council Member, he has helped direct Empowerment Zone and Community Development funds to North Minneapolis-based employment services. He also co-sponsored a resolution to restrict when the City of Minneapolis can ask applicants if they have been convicted of a crime, thus allowing qualified and rehabilitated ex-felon job seekers a greater chance of attaining employment with the city.
Don is the Founder of the PEACE Foundation - Public Engagement and Community Empowerment connecting regional partners and local resident in collaborations to end violence. He also founded the African American Economic Development Committee, to support the development of African American businesses in the city. With his wife Sondra, Don also founded the Institute for Authentic Dialogue on race, which guides executives and leaders in conversations and relationships across race with unprecedented clarity and mutuality.
Don has an adult son and two young daughters. He and his family live in the Jordan neighborhood of North Minneapolis.
Last updated Sep. 27, 2011