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Minnesota Council of Nonprofits names next Executive Director

We are delighted to share that the Board of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits has announced unanimous approval of Nonoko Sato as its Executive Director following an extensive national search led by Good Insight.

Sato steps into this new role from Associate Director, where she has led the organization’s operations, member services, and strategic priorities around equity and justice since 2018. She succeeds current and founding executive director Jon Pratt, who announced his forthcoming retirement in December 2020.

Founder and long-term executive transitions are Good Insight’s specialty. This article shares more of how we helped the board conduct an equitable and deliberate process to assess internal talent, and ended up suspending plans to conduct full national search.

“Nonoko is a proven leader, and we have benefited from her vision, integrity, and focus on equity and justice for several years,” said Cameron Kruger, MCN board chair and president and CEO of the Duluth Children’s Museum. “The board strongly believes that she is the right choice to sustain MCN’s good work on behalf of Minnesota’s nonprofit sector, and that she will take our organization to new heights.”

In her new role, Sato will combine her strategic vision, collaborative leadership, and operational acumen to help MCN remain both forward-thinking and responsive to the ever-evolving needs of Minnesota’s robust nonprofit sector, including further embedding MCN’s strategic priority to advance equity and justice into every facet of the organization’s work. She takes the helm at a critical time for Minnesota’s nonprofits, with the COVID-19 pandemic and uprising against racial injustices and disparities posing both new and well-tread challenges to our communities, while also serving as prime opportunities to reimagine and advance the change we all want to see.

“I see a responsibility for MCN to harness our power and privilege to ensure Minnesota’s robust nonprofit sector has what they need to fulfill their important work towards a just, joyful, and equitable world,” said Sato. “I can’t imagine a better team and board to partner with in this work, and remain grateful to Jon and past MCN leaders who have laid a strong foundation for us.”

About Nonoko Sato

Nonoko Sato has served as the associate director at MCN since January 2018. In this role, she oversees the organization’s member services, operations, and financial management and has stewarded key initiatives including BenefitsMN, Minnesota’s first association health plan for nonprofits.

In addition to her work at MCN, Sato serves on the boards of the Coalition of Asian American Leaders and Theater Mu, as well as the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Equity and Diversity Impact Assessment Committee. She has served on the boards of Asian American Theater Company and Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company, promoting representation, voices, and perspectives of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander artists on the stage. 

Sato relocated to the Twin Cities in 2017 after spending 13 years — nine as executive director — at SMART, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that champions education equity by supporting students in overcoming systemic barriers on their journey to a college degree.

An immigrant from Japan, she grew up in Chicago. She was the first in her family to graduate college, attending Carleton College in Northfield, MN. She currently lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two children, and is a parent of Minneapolis Public Schools.

About Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits was founded in 1987 to meet the increasing information needs of nonprofits and to convene nonprofits to address issues facing the sector. It is the largest state association of nonprofits in the U.S. Through MCN, nonprofits join together across interest areas to work on issues of common concern to all. Learn more about MCN here.

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