Makeda Zulu-Gillespie named U of M UROC Executive Director

Makeda Zulu-Gillespie

Makeda Zulu-Gillespie has been named executive director of the University of Minnesota Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC). A staff member of UROC since its inception, Zulu-Gillespie has served as UROC's first director of community outreach since 2009. Starting in 2006, three years before the doors of the UROC building were opened, Zulu-Gillespie worked closely with UROC’s founding executive director on shaping UROC’s mission and establishing the center’s strategic communications agenda.

Over the years, she facilitated dozens of partnerships between University researchers and community organizations, playing an important role in the hiring and training of community residents for the launch of the UROC Research Action Team on Mortgage Foreclosure, the Trauma Recovery Project, and the Young Women's Initiative of Minnesota. In addition, she oversaw the training of University student interns and graduate research students, staff, volunteers, and AmeriCorps VISTAs who have been part of the UROC family.
A long-time resident of North Minneapolis, Zulu-Gillespie brings to the position close to 30 years of experience leading urban and community development. Prior to arriving at UROC, she served as senior director at the YMCA Minneapolis Headquarters and as executive director of Quest for Excellence, a program funded by the Minneapolis Empowerment Zone that prepares urban youth for college and careers. She then served as a community organizer for the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council, for which she managed initiatives for the Northside Neighborhood Revitalization Program and coordinated community meetings for the University Northside Partnership.

Zulu-Gillespie holds a bachelor of science degree in business management from Grambling State University and a master of public affairs degree from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
As UROC’s executive director, she will serve as the center’s chief executive with primary responsibility for securing the UROC’s success in all aspects of its work. She will provide executive oversight of UROC’s strategic planning, revenue generation, financial stewardship, organizational development, staff management, and operational activities.