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Sharon Smith-Akinsanya

With over 20 years of experience as a strategist and diversity marketing consultant, Sharon Smith-Akinsanya is known for producing powerful events that connect Minnesota’s businesses and corporations with people of color.

As the president and CEO of the rae mackenzie group, inc., Sharon’s vast experience includes many projects, events, and partnerships with top area corporations—including top companies such as Target, U.S. Bank, Verizon Wireless, General Mills, Best Buy, Microsoft, and AT&T and THOR Companies.  Known as their “secret weapon,” she has routinely developed and delivered strategies, concepts, and events that have given her corporate partners a competitive edge for marketing, recruiting, and building strong relationships with people of color.

Sharon is dedicated to making Minnesota a great place to live, work and play for all people, regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity. She has continually proven her commitment to this goal by creating and producing high-profile events that celebrate diversity and inclusion, including The Gathering!, a two-day women of color expo that attracted 100,000 attendees over eight years, and the hugely successful semi-annual People of Color Career Fair launched in October 2016 with 28 top area employers and over 1000 candidates in attendance. Sharon also launched a companion website that provides 24/7 access for people of color to search for job from Minnesota Employers called POCCareers.com

Sharon has been named one of the Twin Cities Business Journal’s “Top 25 Most Influential Women.” She’s been featured in multiple publications, including Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Minnesota Business, and rae mackenzie group, inc. received Twin Cities Business Journal’s Minority Business Award.

 

From concept to execution, Sharon believes that there is no excuse for imperfection, a trait she attributes to her former employer and mentor, the musical genius Prince. It was her reputation for excellence and ability to build great relationships that helped her through the great recession of 2008 when she found herself unemployed while trying to support her daughter and mother. By leveraging her connections and experience, Sharon was able to secure a position as UNCF where she working until 2017 as Regional Development Director and successfully raised over $8 million and produced notable events such as the UNCF Twin Cities Masked Ball.

 

Because Sharon is an advocate of pay equality, she feels strongly about eliminating the gender wage gap. In 2013 she authored Savvy Female Marketer, a self-help book designed to teach female entrepreneurs how to develop multiple revenue streams, grow their businesses, and create their own personal economies.

 

Today her mission remains unchanged – reduce unemployment and underemployment for people of color by increasing recruitment and retention with the region’s top employers. She believes that by building stronger relationships and providing opportunities for employers to connect with people of color, all people calling Minnesota home can say this a great place to live, work and play.  

 

Sharon currently lives in St. Louis Park with her  mother Amanda. Her daughter Rae studies International Business at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.

 

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