Minneapolis Chapter History

A group of mothers from Minneapolis and St. Paul organized the Twin Cities Chapter (TC Chapter) in early 1952. In October of the same year, Ms. Edna Sesy of Buffalo, New York installed the first officers and presented the Chapter with its charter. The Chapter grew and matured into a closely-knit group of dedicated mothers who faithfully served the organization and the communities in which they lived.

The Chapter has hosted many conventions, the first being in 1962 held in Minneapolis at the Radisson Hotel. The Convention theme was “Jack and Jill’s Blueprint for Broader Horizons.” Dr. Ruth Howard of San Francisco presided as the National President. Eighty-three Chapters answered the delegate’s roll call. Mental Health was accepted as the National Project for the next biennium, and Mrs. Margaret E. Simms of the St. Louis Chapter was elected the 7th National President.

In 1981, the Twin Cities Chapter sponsored the St. Paul interest group and they were installed as the St. Paul Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. in 1982. The Twin Cities Chapter then became the Minneapolis Chapter. Unfortunately, the St. Paul Chapter dissolved and the members rejoined the Minneapolis Chapter in later years.

In 1999 the Minneapolis Chapter hosted its first annual signature fundraising event, the Rites of Passage program. The six-month Rites of Passage program is specifically for African-American males in their senior year of high school. Through Rites of Passage we serve these young men by providing them with mentors, leading them in a variety of workshops, and celebrating them one Saturday during the month of March of each year. The 2015-2016 Rites of Passage program supported 17 initiates, including 7 young men from our chapter (Samuel Abrams, Brandon Banks, Michael Crawford, Edward Obasi Lewis, Winston Ware, Timothy Warren, and Evan Weatherly). On behalf of the initiates’ fundraising efforts, the organization Crisis Nursery was selected to receive a donation over $13,000.

The Minneapolis Chapter hosted the Mid-Western Regional Conference in 1981 and 2007. In 1981, Regional Director Charlotte A. Strohman presided over the convention and Venora S. Adams was elected as the in-coming Regional Director. In 2007, Regional Director Linda Murrain presided over the conference and Sandra Townsend was elected as the incoming Regional Director. The Chapter President Pamela Alexander was congratulated on a job well done by the committee and conference Co-chairs Monique Wilkes-Leonard and Twanya Hood- Hill. The Twin Cities Chapters also hosted four (4) teen leadership conferences held in 1967, 1987, 1997 and 2015. The 1987 teen conference was held on the Macalester College campus in St. Paul. The 1997 Teen Conference was chaired by Marcia Murray. It was held on the University of Minnesota campus and introduced the use of the “Jack Pack” (Dads, husbands serving as chaperones) to the Region. The 2015 Teen Leadership Conference, attended by over 500 teens and parents, and was held at the University of St. Thomas on the St. Paul Campus. Past MAL Twanya Hood Hill chaired the committee and was later recognized by the region in 2016 as “Outstanding Chapter Leader.”

In 2008 Twanya Hood Hill was elected as the Mid-Western Regional Member-At-Large for the 2008-2010 program years. Responsibilities for the position included, disseminating foundation information to the regional, represent the interest of chapters as it relates to the foundation, and promoting the image and interests of the foundation in her region and encouraging and supporting fundraising, external funding and submission of grants by chapters and community agencies.

In 2010, the Minneapolis Chapter sponsored the City of Lakes interest group, which was installed as the City of Lakes Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., in October 2012. The Minneapolis Chapter welcomes and is excited to have a sister chapter. In addition, the Minneapolis Chapter celebrated its 60th Anniversary. The milestone was acknowledged with a dinner before the October 2012 Mother’s meeting.

In 2011, Vanessa Ware elected to the Regional Nominating Committee.

On Saturday, May 4, 2013, the Minneapolis Chapter had the pleasure of chartering 12 Associate members. Regional Associate Chair Jackie Davis, Minneapolis Past President and Associate Chair Shelley Carthen Watson, and Minneapolis Associate Liaison Sheila Ards were instrumental in working to form the Twin Cities Associate group, and along with Regional Director Melanie Lynn, proudly installed the following Charter Members: Chair, Shelley Carthen Watson; Asst. Chairperson/Secretary: Diane Jones Smith; Treasurer: Gwen McFadden-Vincent; Chaplain: Bobbie Davis; Sharon Buckner, Deborah Campbell, Bessie Griffin, Leah Hargett, Delores Henderson, Brenda McDaniel, Cheryl Mayberry, and Annie Wade. In addition, Vice President Vanessa Ware re-elected to the Regional Nominating Committee at the 2013 Regional Conference, and our chapter was awarded the Regional Outstanding Chapter Fundraiser/Community Service for the Rites of Passage program.

At the 2014 Teen Leadership Conference, held at Wheaton College in Illinois, Ricardo Grant was awarded the Father of the Year Award. Robin Weatherly was also appointed to the Sargent at Arms Committee during the 41st Biennial National Convention.

In 2015 President Vanessa Ware was appointed as chair of the National Nominating Committee responsible for supporting the election process for the 2016-2018 National Executive Board officers. Immediate Past President Djuana Banks was appointed as the Regional Co-Chair Competitions, Sheneeta White appointed to the Regional Technology Committee, Tiffany Scott Knox appointed to the Regional Communications Committee, and Sabrina Morris appointed to the Regional Time and Place Committee.

In 2016, the Minneapolis Chapter was awarded the Foundation Visionary Award at the 42nd Biennial National Convention for our contributions to the Jack and Jill Foundation. In addition, the region recognized Past MAL Twanya Hood-Hill (Outstanding Chapter Leader), Felicia Wright (Mother of the Year), Milton Dodd (Father of Year), Erika Crawford (LTA of the Year) and Anne Wade (Associate of the Year).