Makeda Zulu-Gillespie is the executive director of University of Minnesota Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC). She has been a staff member of UROC since its inception. Zulu-Gillespie has served as director of community outreach since 2009.
She worked closely with the founding executive director on shaping UROC’s mission and establishing the center’s strategic communication agenda. Makeda is a long-time resident of North Minneapolis, she brings over 30 years of experience leading urban and community development. Prior to arriving at UROC, she served as senior director at the YMCA Minneapolis Headquarters and as executive director of Quest for Excellence, a program funded by the Minneapolis Empowerment Zone that prepares urban youth for college and careers. She then served as a community organizer for the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council, for which she managed initiatives for the Northside Neighborhood Revitalization Program and coordinated community meetings for the University Northside Partnership.
Currently, serve as the center's chief executive with primary responsibility for securing the UROC’s success in all aspects of its work. She provides executive oversight of UROC’s strategic planning, revenue generation, financial stewardship, organizational development, staff management, and operational activities.