Top global development employers in Minneapolis-St. Paul

By Liana Barcia 17 November 2015

Minnesota’s twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul host a number of satellite and branch offices of leading global development organizations. Photo by: Atlantiquon / CC BY-NC-ND

The state that’s home to thousands of lakes is surprisingly also a hotspot for international development organizations — particularly those working in food, nutrition, human rights and refugee support.

The twin cities of Minneapolis and state capital St. Paul, as well as a few other cities only a stone’s throw away, host satellite and branch offices of leading global development organizations such as World VisionHeifer International and ACCION International, as well as the headquarters of private charities and foundations like the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation and the McKnight Foundation.

The Minnesota International NGO Network, which serves as a statewide forum for global development professionals and supporters to learn, network and exchange expertise and ideas, currently boasts over 2,000 active members.
Are you a global development professional living in or moving to Minnesota? Devex compiled a list of some of the biggest global development employers operating out of the North Star State.

Location: Minneapolis
Type: Implementing NGO
Founded: 1979
President and CEO: Daniel Wordsworth
Sectors: Disaster relief, economic empowerment, education, health, refugee support
Present in over 12 countries across Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, American Refugee Committee International works to help victims of war and conflict rebuild their lives. Aside from providing protection and disaster relief, ARC works to economically empower refugees, provide education and livelihood training, fight Ebola, malaria and HIV, and support maternal and child health care services. This year, Jordan-based Questscope, a groundbreaking organization that provides one-on-one attention, guidance and mentorship for marginalized youth, joined the ARC family as an autonomous subsidiary.

Location: St. Paul
Type: Nonprofit
Founded: 1988
Executive Director: Patrick Plonski
Sectors: Education and literacy
Having sent over 34 million books to 49 different countries since 1988, Books for Africa is the single largest shipper of donated and library books to the African continent. Books are donated by publishers, schools, libraries, individuals and organizations, sorted and packaged by volunteers, and shipped through contributions from foundations, individual donors and corporate sponsors. In addition to millions of books, Books for Africa also shipped 665 computers and 200 e-readers in the last year alone. The e-readers, which went to 21 African countries, contained 1.6 million digital books and 5 new law and human rights libraries. The nonprofit seeks to boost literacy and provide the next generation of African leaders with tools for empowerment.

Location: St. Paul
Type: Nonprofit
Founded: 1986
Executive Director: Shari Blindt
Sectors: Education, health and poverty reduction
Focused on improving the lives of the poor in areas of Antigua and Guatemala, Common Hope’s early days involved sponsoring education costs of children of impoverished families. The organization has since adopted a more multifaceted approach, expanding to address more of the basic needs that are necessary to create a supportive, stable environment for children to finish school and break out of the cycle of poverty. Common Hope now also provides access to affordable health care, preventive health education, housing support and social services.

Location: Coon Rapids
Type: Nonprofit
Founded: 1987
Executive Director and CEO: Mark Crea
Sector: Nutrition
Feed My Starving Children is a Christian organization fighting malnutrition in the developing world. Since its foundation, it has produced and shipped over a billion meals – all of them vegetarian, to ensure that they are culturally neutral and acceptable to different populations. The meals are packed by volunteers at packing events across the United States. FMSC currently has three meal formulas: MannaPack Rice, formulated for severely malnourished and starving children; MannaPack Potato-W, a weaning food to transition from breastfeeding to solid foods; and MannaPack Potato-D, developed to help people recover from diarrhea – the number one cause of death among malnourished children.

Location: Minneapolis
Type: Nonprofit
Founded: 1987
Executive Director: Doug Cox
Sector: Global health
Global Health Ministries raises funds and gathers and ships medical supplies and equipment to Lutheran healthcare systems and programs across the developing world. In addition to these core functions, GHM also helps recruit, train and build the capacity of doctors, nurses and other health care workers. Its consulting arm, Global Health Administration Partners, works to enhance the management, governance and leadership of Lutheran health facilities in developing countries.

Location: Minneapolis
Type: Nonprofit
Founded: 1997
President and CEO: Rolf Nordstrom
Sectors: Energy efficiency, renewable energy
Referring to themselves as “energy diplomats,” the Great Plains Institute seeks to demystify the confusing and complex areas of energy and climate change, while attempting to broker consensus between stakeholders with previously no common ground. Currently, the institute advocates for better energy policies, develops and promotes best energy technologies and practices, and provides analyzes that help leaders in the public and private sectors make better energy decisions.

Location: Shoreview
Type: Cooperative
Founded: 1981
VP for International Development: Jon Halverson
Sectors: Agribusiness, economic empowerment, poverty reduction, health and nutrition
As an arm of one of the United States’ largest cooperatives, Land O’Lakes International Development leverages the company’s corporate and technical expertise to empower developing world smallholder farmers – many of whom face challenges similar to those experienced by their American counterparts. The division works to build economic resilience in risk-prone environments, enhance market access for smallholder farmers, improve crop productivity and livestock production, enhance food quality and drive growth of small and medium enterprises.

Location: St. Louis Park
Type: Nonprofit
Founded: 2000
President: Quenton Marty
Sectors: Nutrition and health
Matter believes in not letting anything – especially corporate surplus – go to waste. Since 2000, the nonprofit has repurposed and distributed more than $550 million in wholesale goods to people living in scarcity all over the world. From 2015 to 2017, the organization aims to expand even further its impact by bringing medical aid to 1.5 million people, providing healthy food to 10 million people, recruiting 100 corporations into its cause and fundraising $5 million.

Location: Minneapolis
Type: Nonprofit
Founded: 1983
Executive Director: Robin Phillips
Sectors: Human rights and law
Since its inception, the Advocates for Human Rights has endeavored to educate the public about human rights issues, promote and support the establishment of strong, rights-based judicial systems all over the world, and provide legal expertise for cases that involve international human rights issues. Aside from its training and advocacy work, the organization also champions women’s rights, LGBTI rights, and the rights of refugees and immigrants.

Location: St. Paul
Type: Nonprofit
Founded: 1985
Executive Director: Curt Goering
Sectors: Mental health and human rights
The Center for Victims of Torture works to rebuild the lives of survivors of torture and war atrocities by providing long-term mental health needs, advocating for their rights, engaging in public policy and supporting torture survivor rehabilitation centers in the United States and across the globe. In addition to contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations and institutions, CVT’s funding comes from government contracts and earned revenue from program services. Currently, the organization extends rehabilitative care to over 3,300 survivors.

Other noteworthy development employers in Minnesota:

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About the author
Liana is a Manila-based reporter at Devex focusing on education, development finance and public-private partnerships and contributing a wide range of content featured in the Development Insider, Money Matters and Doing Good newsletters. She draws from her experience in business reporting and advertising to generate coverage that is engaging, insightful and relevant to the Devex community.

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