Board of Education, Director
Don spent 27 years in the toy industry, first as an R&D executive, for Playskool, Milton Bradley and Hasbro and as an independent inventor/designer. He graduated, with a Master of Divinity degree, from Luther Seminary in 2001 and is an ordained minister. Don evolved from community leader, in his Jordan Neighborhood, to become a Minneapolis council member for three terms. He served as chair of the Public Safety Committee and on the Zoning and Community Development Committees.
Don is also CEO of MicroGrants, which spurs economic self-sufficiency by giving strategic grants to low income people of potential through the Partner Agencies that train them.
Don co-founded the PEACE Foundation in 2003 to address violence in the Northside Community. He co-founded Hope Collaborative, which identified the top performing urban schools, across the nation, in low income communities of color. Over a two-year period, the collaborative hosted and presented ten of these school’s leaders to the Minneapolis Community. Eventually, the PEACE Foundation was retooled as the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), to support the implementation of those best practices. Don now serves on the board of Twin Cities Rise, Alafia Place, Rock ‘n Read, The Youth Coordinating Board.
Don is married to Sondra Hollinger Samuels. They live in the Jordan Neighborhood of North Minneapolis with their two young daughters. Their adult daughter and son live in New York City.