Awale Osman

Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow - Community Innovation Associate

Awale’s creative leadership style transforms traditional grantmaking and expands the scope of what is possible in philanthropy. Appointed through our highly selective Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellowship as a Community Innovation Associate, his collaborative approach to supporting community problem-solving clears complexity and pioneers new paths for change. Awale listens and watches; explains and persuades. His brand of problem-solving builds consensus and motivates by doing.

Creating Connections Across Continents  

Awale excels at leading large-scale collaborations with lasting community impact. Infusing new ideas, viewpoints and diversity into philanthropy, he has developed some of the most cutting-edge and insightful social leadership programs, including:

  • The Black MenLeadership Movement, an initiative to increase retention and persistence rates among black males in college.
  • Somali Debate League, the first of it’s kind in the world, empowers Somali students to explore their identities through competitive academic policy debate.
  • American Indian Education, supports undergraduate Native students and Native cultures, literature, history and current issues, and continues to build links with local and national Native American communities through ongoing education and awareness programs.
  • Latino Success, embraces the legacy and contributions of past Chicano/a and Latino/a leaders in the Americas and creates intentional communities of support among diverse college Latino students to share experiences, hear Latino speakers and develop personal leadership skills.

Awale brings these relationships to each new community; connecting people to what they need to know, and who they need to know, to accomplish their goals.

He is a 2017 Humphrey Institute Policy Fellow, a graduate of the Dr. Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy and Wilder Foundation’s Community Equity Pipeline. Among many honors, Awale was also selected as a Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship Scholar, Page Foundation Scholar, and for both the McNair and TRIO Scholar Programs.  

Consistent with his grounded and contextual approach to problem-solving, he’s an active executive board member supporting Minnesota Urban Debate League; Twin Cities Young Muslim Collective; and Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul.

Awale earned his Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Augsburg University. He continues to receive multiple accolades including: NAACP’s McGee Youth in Action Award; Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul’s Emerging Legend Award; TRIO Achiever of the Year Award; the National Newman Civic Fellowship Award; City of Brooklyn Center’s Community Service Award; PFund’s Community Award; Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and All-USA Community College Academic Team distinctions.

Awale enjoys exercising at his local crossfit, watching House of Cards & Game of Thrones, trying to make Somali food as well as his Mom or Gram, and traveling as much as possible.

Collaborate with Awale to pioneer a new project or propell an existing one forward successfully.