Sandra L. Vargas became president & CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation in April 2007.
The Minneapolis Foundation is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the country. Ms. Vargas oversees the management of $600 million in assets; the administration of more than 1,000 charitable funds created by individuals, families, and businesses; and the distribution of more than $30 million in grants each year.
Through its community grantmaking and leadership work, the Foundation promotes constructive dialogue and action on critical issues such as closing the achievement gap, achieving prosperity for all, improving public sector outcomes, and realizing a more vibrant and equitable community. In 2009, The Minneapolis Foundation's adopted a new strategic plan focused on building rewarding relationships with donors and creating greater community impact by achieving greater social, economic, and racial equity.
Ms. Vargas had previously served as Hennepin County administrator, the top executive position in Hennepin County government, since 1999. There she managed a $2 billion dollar budget and 12,000 employees. During her tenure, Ms. Vargas created and implemented a new mission, vision, and strategic plan for the county with a greater emphasis on measurable results. She began her career as a small-business consultant in the Minnesota Department of Economic Development, and held management positions at the City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Department of Transportation before becoming deputy county administrator at Hennepin in 1997.
A native Minnesotan, Ms. Vargas earned her Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the College of St. Catherine and holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is active in several Twin Cities organizations and serves on the boards of MinnCAN, St. Catherine University, the Downtown Council, the Blake School, Wallin Education Partnership, and the Center for Leadership Innovation.
Throughout her tenure, Ms. Vargas has been recognized as a leader in expanding business development opportunities for women and people of color, building cross-sector collaborations, streamlining business processes and incorporating accountability measures, and promoting strategies to increase individual self-sufficiency and strengthen our community. She was profiled in the book Heroes Among Us in 2008, and received WomenVenture's Pioneer Award in 2009, the Medal of Honor from St. Catherine's University in 2010, and the Caux Roundtable's Outstanding Citizenship Award in 2012.