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.

In 1962 the Twin Cites chapter began hosting a series of conferences/conventions starting with the National Conference held in Minneapolis at the Radisson Hotel. The Convention theme was “Jack and Jill’s Blueprint for Broader Horizons.”

In 1981, the Twin Cities Chapter sponsored the St. Paul interest group and they were installed as the St. Paul Chapter of Jack and 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. For the past 20 years, through Rites of Passage, the chapter has served over 300 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 2017-2018 Rites of Passage program supported 5 initiates. On behalf of the initiates’ fundraising efforts, the Jack and Jill Foundation received over $3,000.

The Minneapolis Chapter hosted the Mid-Western Regional Conference in 1981 and 2007. In 2007, 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 (TLC) 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, was chaired by Twanya Hood-Hill and held in St. Paul at the University of St. Thomas.

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 also celebrated its 60th anniversary that same year.

In 2011, Vanessa Ware elected to the Regional Nominating Committee. In 2012, Mother Member Robin Weatherly was Sergeant-at-Arms during the National Convention.

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. Also, Past President Bernadette Turner chaired the Regional Technology 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).

In 2017, during the Regional Conference, Minneapolis was awarded 3rd place for the Regional Per Capital for Fundraising and 3rd place for the National Foundation Giving Award. The region also recognized Tina Grant (Leadership of the Year); Sheneeta White (Outstanding Mother Member), Sabrina Morris (LTA of the Year); Rodney Anderson (Father of the Year); and Bessie Griffin (Outstanding Associate). President Vanessa Ware was also selected as Center of Excellence Leader for the Chicago Area.

In 2018, during the 43rd Biennial National Convention, President Vanessa Ware was a member of the NVP Tanya Hand’s Campaign Committee. In addition, at the Midwestern Regional Breakfast, the region recognized Pashell Johnson (Outstanding Chapter Leader), Parliamentarian Carmela Bolden (Mother of the Year), Anton Vincent (Father of Year), Alicia Phillips (LTA of the Year) and Shelley Carthen Watson (Associate of the Year)

In 2019, during the Regional Conference, Minneapolis Chapter was awarded 3rd Place for the Underground Railroad Cultural Chapter Programming. The region also recognized Vanessa Ware (Outstanding Chapter Leader); Daheia Barr-Anderson (Outstanding Mother Member); Marquita Davis (LTA of the Year); Scott Morris (Father of the Year) and Sharon Buckner (Outstanding Associate).