The Minneapolis Urban League announced Wednesday that it is removing the interim label from Steven Belton's job and naming him as the organization's president.
"He had a seven, eight month audition on the job and he nailed it," said Clinton Collins Jr., the organization's board chair. The Urban League said that Belton won the job after a national search. The organization espouses the twin goals of economic opportunity for black residents and working to end racial disparities.
Belton is a Minneapolis native and graduate of Central High School, Washington University and University of Michigan law school. He was a partner at the Stinson Leonard Street law firm and held several executive positions for Minneapolis schools, including chief of staff. He has been executive director of the state Council on Black Minnesotans and the president/CEO of the Urban Coalition of Minneapolis. He's a youth minister at Park Avenue United Methodist Church.
Collins said one goal under Belton will be for the Urban League to become an advocate for all Minnesotans of African descent, including those of Somali, Kenyan and Liberian backgrounds, in addition to American-born blacks.
Belton served as interim leader through period of financial retrenchment for the 89-year-old organization that's based at 2100 Penn Av. N. The league recently listed for sale two south Minneapolis buildings it owns but no longer uses. Clinton said the league now is in a stronger financial position.
The organization also recently took a lead position in urging an end to the Black Lives Matter-led occupation of Plymouth Avenue at the Fourth Precinct, two blocks from league headquarters. It argued that the protest had accomplished most of its goals and was disruptive to the neighborhood.
The organization also was cleared in June by the state auditor after the Star Tribune reported that the state and Minneapolis schools were looking at whether the league double-billed for students in is education programs.