Gary L. Cunningham was appointed President and CEO of Prosperity Now in August 2019. Under his leadership, Prosperity Now is focused on moving from just mitigating the effects of a broken racist system to transforming that system by testing, investing and scaling what works.
Gary is a recognized and respected expert on entrepreneurship, job creation and racial wealth equity and is a sought-after thought leader on issues related to building a more inclusive economy. Prior to joining Prosperity Now, Gary spent years in the trenches working to build economic opportunity for African Americans and other people of color in the Twin Cities as President and CEO of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association, where he was recognized as an innovator in minority business development. Earlier, Gary held senior leadership positions in philanthropic, community development, health care, housing and transportation organizations.
A descendant of enslaved people, Gary grew up poor in Minneapolis, MN. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy from Metropolitan State University, located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Gary serves on a number of board of directors including: Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), which works to change the way capital and services flow to underserved entrepreneurs so that they can create jobs and opportunities for all; First Children’s Finance, a national nonprofit dedicated to increasing the financial sustainability of child care businesses; and Artspace, which sources and creates spaces where artists can affordably live and work.