My Other Life With Sylvia Bartley


PM360: Outside of work, you focus on improving public education in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. Tell us more about that.

I work closely with high-performing public charter schools, The Harvest Network of Schools (HNS). Primarily serving low income families, HNS has repeatedly been listed as “beat the odds” schools with the academic results being one of the highest in the state. The network serves approximately 1,300 students in three schools.

I supported the launch of the newest school, Mastery, which has started to replicate the success of the founding schools Harvest Preparatory and Best Academy. I’m also the Board Chair of Mastery and the recently formed Charter Management Organization (CMO). I helped start the CMO in 2014 and continue to be involved as we prepare for its launch in July 2015. Our vision is to grow and serve 3,800 students by 2025.

Wow. Are you involved with anything else?

I also serve as a Co-chair for the Education Workgroup and a member of the leadership team for the Twin Cities African American Leadership Forum (AALF), a group of more than 600 leaders collectively working to build a vibrant African American community. I am also on the Board of Directors for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanities, focused on eliminating poverty housing, and Achieve MPS, focused on ensuring students are college ready. And I’m a proud 2014 Bush Fellow. My fellowship work is focused on helping to eliminate the academic achievement gap.

Why are you so passionate about improving your community?

When I witness the tragedies that exist in our community, I am compelled more than ever to help make the sustainable change necessary for everyone to live in a more vibrant, healthy and safe environment. By addressing the root causes, namely education disparities among socially and economically disadvantaged children, I believe this is achievable. As I recognize the shoulders on which I stand, I know it’s my responsibility to do what I can to help drive this change.

Was there anyone who inspired you to get more involved?

I’m inspired by so many leaders in the Twin Cities, who are all leading the way to making a difference. Kim Nelson, Sr. VP and President at General Mills Foundation; Eric Mahmoud, the CEO and Founder of HNS; Jeff Hassan, Attorney and Executive Director of AALF; Sondra Samuels, Founder and CEO of the North Side Achievement Zone, and many more. Their passion, commitment and drive inspire me daily.

Between your work in the Twin Cities and your job at Medtronic, what do like to do in your free time?

I’m focused on my spiritual journey, seeking to align with my spiritual path so I can be the best person possible. I’m currently exploring the possibility of reframing the human consciousness through brain modulation. I’ve written a couple of blogs ( and plan to write a book very soon!


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