MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis Urban League is holding its annual Gala on Thursday, welcoming the national president of the organization, and keynote speaker, Marc Morial. The evening will also include the presentation of the Trailblazer Award.

Dr. Reatha Clark King is receiving the honor this year. She’s the former president of the General Mills Foundation and Metro State University in St. Paul, Minn. She’s also served on the board of directors of dozens of companies and non-profits — locally and nationally.

King is in her mid-70s. She became a scientist in a time women just didn’t do that.

Another claim to fame: she’s mentored many of the women business leaders who run things here in the Twin Cities. She’s best known as a leader in philanthropy in the Twin Cities, as well as an educator, and a tireless volunteer.

But her earliest achievements were in science.

The Georgia native earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry in 1958, moving on to get a master’s and Ph.D in chemistry in the 1960s.

“This award inspires me to focus on young people, helping them to use the resources at their disposal as well as they possibly can,” King said.

It’s not just students she’s focused on. She dedicated to helping women advance their careers to positions of power.

Kim Nelson is the president of the General Mills Foundation. King mentored her.

“I think she believes it’s part of her legacy — her mission in life — to bring us all along with her. It’s never been the Reatha Clark King show. It’s always been about ‘how do I gather up all these young people around me and help them find their own possibilities,'” Nelson said.

Deb Vos is the Chief Operating Officer at Metro State University.

“Reatha helped me understand that being myself is the best way to lead a team and you learn as you go. Accept your mistakes, celebrate victories,” Vos said.

Then there’s her work on the board of directors for dozens of companies over the years, from Exxon/Mobil to Wells Fargo.

“Be the example that you want to see. That’s a high expectation of a leader. Be the example that you want others to see and others to be,” King said.

King will receive the Trailblazer award this Thursday evening at the Minneapolis Urban League Annual Gala. It’s at the downtown Minneapolis Hilton Hotel. There’s a reception at 5 p.m. and then the dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Click here for ticket information.

The Minneapolis Urban League offers job training and job placement assistance, as well as credit counseling and housing assistance. You can also attend classes on health and wellness issues.


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