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Friday
Nov 21st

The Carters: Creating a better future

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Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter is committed to strengthening her community by building coalitions and creating jobs and opportunities for economic development. However, her career began in the private sector. She worked with IBM Corporation as a systems engineer after moving to St. Paul from Northfield, MN where she attended Carleton College.

"At that time, it was all about climbing the corporate ladder and escalating my career in that particular arena," said Carter. She was recently married, and she and her husband, who was then an officer with the St. Paul Police Department, found themselves making plans for a family, two cars, a dog, and a house with the white picket fence; a piece of the American dream.

Above: Ramsey County Comissioner Toni Carter and Son Melvin Carter III, Ward 1 St. Paul City County Member. Photo by Elliot Stewart Franzen

Ramsey County Comissioner Toni Carter and Son Melvin Carter III, Ward 1 St. Paul City County Member. Photo by Elliot Stewart Franzen

Factoid: Toni Carter is the first African-American to serve on the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners

Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter is committed to strengthening her community by building coalitions and creating jobs and opportunities for economic development. However, her career began in the private sector. She worked with IBM Corporation as a systems engineer after moving to St. Paul from Northfield, MN where she attended Carleton College.

"At that time, it was all about climbing the corporate ladder and escalating my career in that particular arena," said Carter. She was recently married, andshe and her husband, who was then an officer with the St. Paul Police Department, found themselves making plans for a family, two cars, a dog, and a house with the white picket fence; a piece of the American dream.

After a while, Carter began to look for ways to build stronger relationships with her neighbors, choosing to volunteer with the St. Paul Public Schools. Part of that relationship included inviting young people to visit IBM in order to discuss career paths. "It entailed going back to the schools and working on motivating young people towards achievement. It was probably then when I realized that for me this type of endeavor was much more motivating," she said.

Having found a calling, the next move for Carter was to look for a way to transition from corporate America to a more community-based employment field. She said, "I figured there were about eight different areas [involving community service] that I wanted to try, and instead of picking only one, over time, I just did them all; which actually ended up laying the platform for the future."

So, in 1990, Carter left IBM Corporation to form the non-profit organization Arts Us. The project has been successful partially because of strong community support. One of the community partners Carter was able to find was Concordia College, where Arts Us continues to be located.

"Concordia has been great because they helped to provide facility, recourses and some staffing. We have had the help of volunteer professors, instructors and department heads connected to the arts community," she said.

Carter added: "In this particular program, we are working with organizations like the Minnesota Museum of American Art and other institutions in the community who are interested in interacting with young people."

Her interest in seeing children succeed led her to run a successful campaign for a seat on the St. Paul Public Schools Board of Education, on which she served for a little more than three years. In 2005 she was elected to the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners serving the 4th District. She is the first African American to serve on the Commission.

And for Carter, all of this was a natural progression. She said her career as a public servant has been about giving to the community in any and every way she possibly can.

Serving on the County Board of Commissioners is certainly a big job, and as a member, Carter has an important, long-term role in shaping residents' lives in areas ranging from "helping people move out of poverty and to creating and helping people find jobs," she said. Other impact areas include the environment, corrections, and juvenile detention issues and programs.

One area of great interest to many Minnesota residents is transportation and how the Central Corridor Light-Rail project is going to positively impact University Avenue. Carter has been working tirelessly with various members of state and local government along with members of the impacted communities to ensu
 

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