By Isaac Peterson
Tolá Oyewole is a self-described hard worker: “I am a hard worker almost to a fault,” she says. Over the years, many Twin Cities-area organizations and companies have benefited from Oyewole’s hard work. Currently she serves as the foundation and corporate giving director at Cargill. As such, she is the day-to-day manager for the Cargill Foundation in Cargill’s Minneapolis headquarters community.
The Cargill Foundation provides local funding for education for children K-12 and for early childhood nutrition for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.
Oyewole also, as she explains, “leads Twin Cities and international strategy, execution and evaluation for the Foundation’s core focus area of education, helps oversee Foundation giving in the Twin Cities and corporate giving in the area of education internationally.”
She also serves as the public relations chair for the United Negro College Fund Masked Ball committee to raise scholarship funds for Twin Cities students of color and serves as mentor in the Links, Inc., Linked4Leadership Program, that provides leadership development and college preparation curriculum, mentoring and exposure to young African American women who are high-performing high school juniors and seniors.
Oyewole has also worked at Best Buy as engagement and sustainability manager on the Business Group Initiatives team and senior community relations specialist on the Public Affairs team. She oversaw all aspects of Best Buy’s international employee giving campaign, global disaster relief strategy and execution, communications, marketing and social media execution, and increasing female market share.
Prior to Best Buy, she spent over six years managing the Youth Career Awareness Program at Dunwoody College of Technology and spent four years at 89.9 KMOJ Radio as the executive producer of the “Back in the Day Old School Show.”
Oyewole, who was born in St. Cloud, Minnesota and raised in the Twin Cities, holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Minnesota in marketing and journalism and a Masters of Business Management from Hamline University in international management and marketing.
Oyewole is very quick to credit her parents, who are originally from Nigeria, with giving her work ethics and values: “My parents instilled in me a great work ethic,” says Oyewole.
“My journey personally and professionally is due greatly to the values that they have instilled in me. Education has always been a priority for me. My dad would always tell me that ‘people can take away your house, car, and other belongings, but they can never take away your education.’
“I placed a great deal of emphasis on my education academically, personally, and recreationally. I will always be a student of knowledge.”
The saying “From whom much has been given, much is required” has a particularly personal meaning for Oyewole. “I am very thankful for everything I have,” she says — “my career, family, friends and experiences that I have had. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them, so I continue to work hard as my way of being grateful for the opportunities I have been given.
“Giving back is very important to me. I am extremely passionate about education and youth.”
Oyewole’s long-range personal goal is to eventually become an entrepreneur and own her own business. “I have not decided on what that would be, but along my professional journey, I hope to find out what I would like, where there is a need, and opportunity to create opportunities for others to grow and succeed as well.”
But until that time, Oyewole will continue giving back to the community. She said, “As a professional, I feel that it is important to give back to our youth. In high school, college, and even professionally, I have been blessed to have great mentors that volunteered their time to help me grow and develop into the person that I am today.
“So giving back is a personal passion of mine.”
Isaac Peterson welcomes reader responses to [email protected].