Humphrey School News—February 21, 2019

Target Executive Laysha Ward to Deliver Humphrey School 2019 Commencement Address


Graduates sitting in Ted Mann Concert Hall during commencement 2018
Humphrey School commencement 2018. Photo: Bruce Silcox

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs announces that Target Executive Vice President and Chief External Engagement Officer Laysha Ward will deliver the School's 2019 commencement address.  

Throughout her career, Ward has tirelessly advocated to create opportunity and advancement for underrepresented groups. In her current role, she is focused on developing and nurturing relationships with external stakeholders across sectors to drive positive business and community impact.

“Our students come to the Humphrey School because they want to better their communities and create lasting change on a local, national, and global level. When we began looking for a commencement speaker who embodied these ideals, Laysha immediately came to mind,” Dean Laura Bloomberg says. “I am excited for our students to hear from such a dynamic leader who has built relationships across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to realize a positive impact nationwide and around the globe.”

Head shot of Laysha Ward, executive VP at Target Corporation, and 2019 commencement speakerWard (pictured at left), who earned a master’s degree from The School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, began her career with Target Corporation in 1991. During her time with the company, she has been instrumental in the company’s efforts to connect with communities and give back through philanthropy and grants.

This includes investing more than $1 billion in support of education, supporting initiatives to increase graduation rates, and furthering Target’s historical commitment to invest 5 percent of pre-tax profits in communities.

Outside of her work at Target, Ward has served at the request of multiple United States presidents on initiatives, task forces, and boards. She was appointed by President George W. Bush to the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that leads service, volunteering, and grantmaking efforts that foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. Later, she served as board chair for the White House Council on Community Solutions under President Barack Obama.

“It is an honor to deliver the commencement address at such an incredible institution,” Ward says. “These students will be at the forefront in tackling serious issues facing our planet, from barriers to education to insufficient affordable housing to environmental concerns. These challenges cannot be addressed in a silo and will take leaders from all sectors and backgrounds working together. I am thrilled to be a part of their special day and to see what each of them do next.”

The Humphrey School will hold commencement on Saturday, May 18, at 3 p.m. at Ted Mann Concert Hall on the University of Minnesota’s West Bank.

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