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The Podcast

Conversations with Chanda

About The Podcast

What happens when people get together and dive into intimate conversation about our community’s grittiest, most vexing problems? Find out on our podcast, Conversations with Chanda. Hosted by Chanda Smith Baker, Conversations with Chanda unpacks complex topics—the power structures that surround wealth, navigating the world of philanthropy as a person of color, why criminal justice reform is something everyone should care about, and turning unthinkable grief into good.

Start listening on our website today or download episodes here:

Listen. Process. Share. Discuss.

We’re calling on everyone to join us on this rough but revealing path of discovery and civic action.

Jelani Cobb

Uprooting Inequality

Chanda and Jelani talk about the adultification of Black children, the calculated risks Black people need to consider when interacting with police, and what needs to happen to create meaningful police reform.


RaShall Brackney

Blue Kneels Too

Chanda and RaShall talk about how RaShall got into police work, the steps she’s taken to build community trust in her department, and her personal and professional responses to George Floyd’s murder.


Kim Foxx

Tearing Down Barriers

Kim Foxx made history when she was elected to be the first African American woman to lead the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Illinois. Chanda connected with Kim to talk about how her upbringing informs her leadership, ...


Kareem Farah

The Modern Classroom

Chanda and Kareem talk about the 21st-century skills that need to be taught in the classroom, the importance of trauma-informed teaching, and how COVID-19 has affected education.


Elizer Darris

Transforming Systems

Elizer Darris is the Co-Executive Director of the Minnesota Freedom Fund – an organization that disrupts the predatory practices of criminal bail and immigration bonds. Chanda sat down with Elizer to talk about the trappings of the criminal justice system and ...


Jim Bear Jacobs

Healing Through Stories

Chanda and Jim discuss how storytelling can spark consciousness and the ways philanthropy has shifted strategies over the past decade.

Chanda Smith Baker headshot
Chanda Smith Baker Chief Impact Officer and Senior Vice President Meet Chanda +
Chanda Smith Baker
Chief Impact Officer and Senior Vice President

Chanda has more than 20 years of experience working in, for, and with underestimated communities. At the Foundation, which she joined in 2017, Chanda oversees grantmaking programs, provides strategic direction to community initiatives and partnerships, and is the founder and host of the award-winning podcast Conversations with Chanda. Previously, Chanda spent 17 years at Pillsbury United Communities, a complex community-based nonprofit where she served in a variety of leadership positions before assuming the role of president and CEO in 2011. In addition to leading Pillsbury in pursuing bold strategies to address systemic inequities, Chanda has served on numerous nonprofit and philanthropic boards throughout her career, and her civic leadership has been recognized with several awards and commendations. She unwinds by spending time with family and loves to travel, shop, and watch football.

View Chanda’s LinkedIn

Souphak Kienitz Podcast Producer Meet Souphak +
Souphak Kienitz
Podcast Producer

An achiever and jack-of-all-trades, Souphak constantly evolves, flexes into multiple roles and channels, and thrives in hungry and nimble environments. Souphak earned a B.A. in business management at the University of St. Thomas. An avid reader, she enjoys learning about business, start-ups, marketing, technology, and the way of the future.

Darlynn Benjamin Executive Assistant to the Impact Team Meet Darlynn +
Darlynn Benjamin
Executive Assistant to the Impact Team

Darlynn provides high-level administrative support for grantmaking programs, community initiatives and partnerships, and the award-winning Conversations with Chanda podcast and event series. She has more than 25 years of experience in administrative and operations leadership. Previously, she served as vice president of innovations and collaboration at MACC, as a district director for former Congressman Keith Ellison, as principal and co-founder of the McClung Consulting, LLC, and as a director for two sizeable Minneapolis nonprofits. Her civic leadership includes serving on the boards of the YWCA Minneapolis and Appetite for Change. Darlynn is a native of Pittsburgh and holds an M.S. in public management and policy from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.S. in business administration from Duquesne University. She is a wife and the mother of three sons.

John Cuoco headshot
John Cuoco Multimedia Content Manager Meet John +
John Cuoco
Multimedia Content Manager

John Cuoco joined the Minneapolis Foundation as the Multimedia Content Curator in July of 2021. He moved to the Twin Cities from Boston. John has spent his career working in television news as a reporter with stops in Texas, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts. He is a strong believer in compelling and informative storytelling as an effective form of communication. His work in broadcast journalism earned him two Emmy Awards and a number of other nominations. John is looking forward to the personal and professional growth that comes from working at an organization like the Minneapolis Foundation. In his free time, John loves playing guitar, hiking, surfing, and his new hobby since moving to the land of 10,000 lakes, paddle boarding.

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Sarah Gillund Design and Digital Media Manager Meet Sarah +
Sarah Gillund
Design and Digital Media Manager

Sarah helps implement the Foundation’s brand and digital communications strategies. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2018, Sarah spent almost a decade working in nonprofits, most recently as Youth Frontiers’ Communications and Marketing Manager. She is a graduate of both Augsburg University and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband, connecting with friends and family, and playing with her corgi, Mose.

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Looking to sponsor Conversations with Chanda? We create custom solutions for our sponsorship partners. For more information, email our podcast producer, Souphak Kienitz.

Contact Souphak

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