Laverne McCartney Knighton

Laverne McCartney Knighton is Area Development Director for UNCF, where she oversees fundraising, scholarship program development, external relations and volunteer coordination to benefit UNCF’s 37 member private, historically black colleges and universities and area students in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and North and South Dakota.  Prior to joining UNCF, Laverne was Program Director for The BrandLab, where she led and managed initiative to provide diverse high school students exposure, access and opportunity to careers in marketing and advertising.  She is also an experienced corporate leader having spent over 15 years at Target Corporation in Community Relations/Corporate Social Responsibility where she helped advance Target’s reputation as a leader in education, arts and diversity.  Laverne spent 10 years as a Buyer for Dayton’s, Marshall Fields and seven years as a Public Information and Education Manager for Tubman Family Alliance, a domestic violence organization where she built community partnerships and created public awareness about the issue.  She is an expert collaborator and connector, a passionate ally and advocate of community engagement and a brand and community builder.

Laverne was recently appointed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to serve as a member of the Young Women’s Initiative Council, a part of the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota, to work to improve equity in outcomes for young women in Minnesota who experience the greatest disparities.

Laverne is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Girl Friends, Inc. She has served as advisory board member for Cedar Riverside People’s Center, Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center and the YWCA of St. Paul.  She is a former board member of APEX Charter School and various arts organizations.  She has also served as an active member of Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy, Minnesota Blacks in Philanthropy and Donors Forum and is currently a member of Minnesota Council on Foundations.  She loves to volunteer and has been a graduation coach for Achieve Minneapolis, reading tutor for Reading Corps and mentor for Girls In Action and Project Diva.

Laverne holds a B.S. degree in Consumer Science and Merchandising from University of Houston (TX).