Over the last four years, Make It. MSP. has collected survey and focus group insights from more than 1,800 professionals of color in an effort to learn more about their experiences as residents of the Greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul (MSP) region. Findings from that research were paired with regional migration data and presented as part of the Make It. MSP. Insights Report series in 2019. Make It. MSP. found that much like their white neighbors, the vast majority of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who had moved to MSP did so to pursue career opportunities for themselves or their spouses (roughly 76% of all survey respondents in 2019).

That same survey, administered through the BE MSP network, also found that 40% of 2019 BIPOC respondents reported finding it difficult to connect to people, places, and experiences once here in MSP – a humble improvement from 2016’s 50% finding, but nevertheless a clear indication of the need to better support and connect BIPOC in the community as well as the workplace.

About the BE MSP Network

As part of the broader Make It. MSP. initiative, BE MSP specifically targets projects, programs, and networks that play key roles in attracting, retaining, and empowering BIPOC and is powered by a coalition of non-profit, employer, and community partners. A summary of the research, insight projects and teams that power the partnership can be explored in the 2019 Make It. MSP. Insights Report: BE MSP.


We also asked BIPOC survey respondents to provide examples of the places, resources, and communities that helped them forge meaningful connections. One consistent theme that emerged is the key role that professional associations play in bridging the gap between the workplace and community for BIPOC individuals. So, in 2019, Make It. MSP. and the BE MSP team set out to learn more about the existing network of professional associations here in MSP, how we might support their efforts, and strategies for amplifying their impact through our own platform.

On September 30, 2020, members of the BE MSP network launched the first-of-its-kind BE MSP Professional Associations’ Forum. The virtual event brought together more than 20 officers and board members of 12 professional associations with three key goals for the lunch-hour workshop:

  • SHARE BEST PRACTICES: Provide a platform to share the successful strategies, tools, and resources from professional associations leaders as a means to empower and connect peers in their work
  • STRENGTHEN THE NETWORK: Connect leaders of professional associations from across MSP through an interactive, casual workshop-style event
  • CONTINUE THE CONNECTIONS: Establish a meaningful way to continue sharing resources, tools, and insights


The discussion was moderated by longtime BE MSP partner and former National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE-TCPC) President Ashley McCray and featured two tracks for attendees to hear from peers and subject matter experts regarding some of the most common challenges faced by professional association leaders. See below for a breakdown of the two tracks and the speakers invited to share their strategies.



The goal of these event series is to catalyze meaningful connections and to build an inclusive platform for sharing resources, tools and insights among BIPOC professional association leaders, resulting in increased success for all. Thank you to our 2020 BE MSP Professional Associations’ Forum participants: NAAAP, NSBE-TCPC, TCDIP, NABA, TCDIR, TC BANDD, NEW, CAAL, MAR, AscendNAAMBA, MERC, and Visit Saint Paul.


If you serve as a board member of officer of a BIPOC professional association or affinity group in the greater MSP area, BE MSP invites you to join our dedicated LinkedIn group. There, you will find resources shared during this first forum as well as receive updates on future programming.

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