About Jonathan Palmer
A native of the Washington D.C. Metro area, Jonathan was born into a family committed
to public service and politics. His mother was a Senior Policy Analyst for President
Carters administration and Director of Telecommunications for U.S. Representative
Mickey Leland. Upon first moving to Minnesota in 1989, Jonathan mentored under his uncle,
Gleason Glover, past President of the Minneapolis Urban League for 25 years.
In 1982, his parents began attending the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard
University, and Jonathan had the opportunity to attend classes and lectures and be
exposed to many of the greatest political thinkers and leaders such as David Gergen,
Donna Shalala, Benjamin Hooks, and Robert Reich. He began volunteering on local,
state, and national political campaigns including Mel Kings campaign for Mayor of
Boston (first African American candidate) in 1984 and Jesse Jacksons campaign for
President of the United States in 1988. He has also been actively involved in many
local campaigns in Minnesota such as RT Rybak for Mayor, Don Samuels for City Council
and Becky Lourey for Governor.
He continued his public work in high school, volunteering with organizations
such as So Others May Eat (SOME)and Martha's Table both of which serve the
homeless population of Washington D.C., and in 1987 was selected as a
national delegate representing Washington D.C. (two from every
state and the nation's capital) at the Century III Leaders National
Meeting from which included 4 days of researching and deliberating
on problems facing the country and the development of recommendations
which were submitted to the President of the United States.
He first came to Minneapolis during a hiatus between his Sophomore
and Junior years at Morehouse College to work with his Uncle Gleason
where he became intimately involved
in the community issues facing the City of Minneapolis. This experience nurtured
a sincere love and appreciation for the city which brought him back
after completing his undergraduate degree in 1994 from Morehouse College
(BA in Psychology with a minor in Drama). He is currently in the process of completing
an MA in Public Affairs from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota.
In his work with three NRP community organizations (Stevens Square Community Organization,
Jordan Area Community Council, and Victory Neighborhood Association) he has worked at
the grassroots level across Minneapolis to address community issues such as developing
successful programs for crime reduction and expanding affordable housing options.
In his volunteerism on civic boards and commissions, he has worked to develop policy
and direct resources towards areas most in need of economic and community development
while advising on or managing city and federal budgets.
Jonathan currently serves as Executive Director of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center (HQB).
Founded in 1929, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, Inc. is a private, nonprofit social
service agency serving the Summit University area of Saint Paul, Minnesota. The
organization was born as the result of the vision, commitment and tireless efforts of
several community leaders in the 1920s.The Center has evolved from an independent human
services provider to a multi-service center over the years and is the administrative
body of the Martin Luther King Center, which houses eight other agencies offering
specialized services and programs, including the nationally recognized Penumbra
Theatre Company. Hallie Q. Brown also operates a branch service center at Oxford and
Laurel, where we meet the emergency food and clothing needs of community residents.
Prior to coming to HQB, Jonathan was the Director of the Minneapolis Empowerment Zone (EZ),
a federally-funded community renewal initiative through the Department of Housing and
Urban Development administered by the City of Minneapolis. As one of 15 across the US,
the program works to improve the quality of life for residents in the most impacted areas
of Minneapolis and bring about systemic and direct change through economic and community
development strategies and efforts to address issues such as foreclosures and affordable
housing, job creation and retention, business financing and assistance and public safety.
Through his leadership, there was an increased focus on North Minneapolis and new
projects such as the EZ North Minneapolis Summer Arts Initiative, St. Annes Senior
Housing Community and the West Broadway Safety Center.
Before heading the EZ, Jonathan was the Executive Director of the Jordan Area Community
Council, the citizen participation and Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP)
contract organization for the Jordan Neighborhood. While there he worked to develop
strategic partnerships with the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County as well as other
neighborhoods to improve Jordan and the surrounding community; began a health outreach
program that included free prostate screenings and a chronic disease management program;
led the effort to establish the Jordan Probation House to provide effective community
based supervision for North Minneapolis.
Jonathan brings to his work a wealth of experience in community-based activism,
leadership and volunteer work throughout his life in Minnesota and across the country.
In 2004, he received a Hennepin County Attorney Community Leadership Award from
Amy Klobuchar and in 1999 a Commendation for Heroism and Bravery from the City of
Minneapolis for rescuing a woman from an apartment fire and preventing the building
from burning down.
His poem My Neighborhood, was selected for Stevens Square-Loring Heights Community
Mural and can be seen in the 1800 block of Nicollet Avenue. He also helped work his way
through college with his artwork and performed with the Morehouse College Glee Club
for several years most notably with Jessye Norman for the 1993 Martin Luther King Jr.
Day Celebration, the annual Christmas with Robert Shaw and with Stevie Wonder,
Trisha Yearwood and Gloria Estefan for the Closing Ceremonies of the Games of the
His greatest accomplishment, however, is as a father to his six-year-old daughter
Siobhan, a prolific artist, dancer, and pre-schooler at Brightwater Montessori School
in North Minneapolis.
Jonathan's volunteerism includes the following:
- Member, Board of Directors, the Citizens League, 2003-Present
- Member, Board of Directors, Project for Pride in Living (PPL) (formerly Loring Nicollet Bethlehem Community Centers), 2001-Present
- Member, President, Board of Directors, Minnesota Coalition of Scottish Clans, 2005-2007, 2008-Present
- Regional Vice President (2000-2008), Minnesota Chapter President (2000-Present), Board Member, Morehouse College National Alumni Association
- Member, Board of Directors, Rainbow Research, Inc., 2007-Present
- Member, Vice Chair, Empowerment Zone Governance Board, 2002-2004
- Member, Board of Directors, City of Lakes Community Land Trust, 2004-2006
- Member, Vice-Chair, Board of Directors, Victory Neighborhood Association, 2003-2005
- Member, Chair, Board of Directors, Stevens Square Community Organization, 1998-2002
- Member, Board of Directors, Restorative Justice Community Action, 2005-2007
- Commissioner, African American Men Project Commission, 2002-2004
- Member, City of Minneapolis Capital Long-Range Improvements Committee (CLIC), 2001-2004
- Member, Board of Directors, Minnesota Scottish Fair and Highland Games, 2005-2007
- Member, President, United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Minneapolis/Saint Paul area Intercollegiate Alumni Council, 2000-2002