(Duluth, MN) — June 14, 2022 — The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has named Sumair Sheikh, a seasoned nonprofit, city and community leader, as the new executive director of LISC Duluth.
Sheikh will spearhead a LISC program that has invested nearly $86 million in affordable housing, small businesses, health, education, community safety and jobs throughout Duluth over the last 25 years—all with an eye toward breaking down race and class barriers that keep people from reaching their full potential.
He replaces Pam Kramer, long-time executive director, who retired earlier this year.
“It isn’t often that we meet people with the kind of varied range of public, private and philanthropic experience that Sumair has, particularly with equity so clearly centered as a guiding principle,” Denise Scott, LISC president said. “His track record starts in schools, moves through workforce and diversity programs, and encompasses neighborhood investment initiatives that have a direct impact on the well-being of families. He knows Duluth and has deep connections to the communities where we work. We are very excited to have Sumair join the LISC team to head up our Duluth program”
For example, Sheikh has played key board leadership roles at two important LISC partners—Ecolibrium3, where he focused on revitalization in the Lincoln Park community, and the Northland Foundation, which fueled efforts related to housing, economic development, childcare and jobs.
He spent the first part of his career as a teacher and community organizer in Duluth, Ann Arbor, Chicago, and Boston. Over time, he launched his own consulting practice, working with municipal leaders in Minnesota on a range of critical plans. His experience in program development and coordination includes collaborating with the City of Duluth to implement an equitable hiring action guide for its workforce development board; helping school districts in the Twin Ports and Twin Cities design and implement racial equity and cultural competency systems; and working with the private-sector Innovare Social Innovation Partners on organizational assessment and leadership evaluation.
“What I’ve learned over the years is that there are tremendous amounts of talent and ambition in our communities,” Sumair explained, “and much of my work has been focused on helping remove the barriers so our youth, families and communities can truly thrive.
“That’s what I want to continue at LISC,” he continued, “whether collaborating with community organizations to equitably invest in affordable housing and small businesses or working with the mayor’s office on education and jobs programs. LISC’s work is all designed to catalyze opportunity, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.”
In addition to his professional work, Sheikh has long volunteered his time in a number of capacities, including serving on the Duluth Police Department’s policy revision team for immigration enforcement and as a Think Kids Community Conversations facilitator for Duluth Public Schools.
He has a master’s degree in advocacy and political leadership from the University of Minnesota, Duluth; a bachelor’s degree in biology from Michigan State University; and a post-baccalaureate secondary teacher certification from Eastern Michigan University.
Sheikh can be reached at LISC beginning on June 27 at email@example.com.