Meet Comfort Dondo, Founde Phumulani Minnesota African Women Against Violence

Phumulani Minnesota African Women against Violence -Women at the Well Project
Founding Executive Director
Alkubelin Wellness Collective CEO President : A coalition of African diaspora community leaders and research consulting firm, bridging the gap between government agencies and grassroot organizations.

Founder | Phumulani Minnesota African Women Against Violence | February 2015 – Present
-Founded and established the first African Immigrant women's emergency shelter in Minnesota, raising over $500K in the first 2 years of inception.
- Directs, leads, and mentors a team of 17 , establishing KPIs in alignment with company vision and goals.
- Creates and builds collaborative partnerships with 92+ community-based agencies to reduce violence against women within Minnesota communities.
- Develops and writes grant proposals ranging from $ 10 000 to $ 1 Million, increasing the portfolio over a million dollars.
- Serves as subject matter expert, sitting on the Governor's Taskforce, providing guidance and advice to the office of the Governor on the needs of historically marginalized communities improving policies to become more family and community centered.
- Identifies needs, directing community building efforts to transform outreach initiatives for fostering meaningful partnerships and promoting family well-being.
- Develops and implements marketing initiatives resulting in building effective community partnerships.
- Designs and implements programs to drive communication among members, creating community and belonging, while addressing risks and needs.
- Identifies fundraising opportunities, raising and disbursing $1M to Black-Led Change after George Floyd’s Murder
- Led Healing Circles following the George Floyd Protests
- Oversees community housing needs in times of crisis, housing 300+ survivors of sexual violence and homelessness during the peak of Covid-19.
- Collaborates with analyzing strategies and donor possibilities to cultivate individual gifts from corporate partner executives resulting in increased philanthropic contributions, strengthened partnerships, and enhanced support for our mission and initiatives.
- Engages board members and key stakeholders in donor visits, improving donor relationships, fostering a deeper understanding of our organization's impact, and ultimately increasing financial support for our mission and programs.
- Plans, manages, and executes initiatives in support of strategic planning, prospecting, and developing complex investment opportunities, and grant management, improving organizational sustainability, fostering innovation, and enhancing the overall effectiveness of our mission-driven programs.

- Miss Africa Minnesota 2006
- Gary M. DeCramer Leadership Award at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs 2018
- Global Woman Award in the “Survivor Activist” Global Women Foundation Washington University
- Brooklyn Park Mayor’s Awardee “ Connecting Community Advocacy Award”
- Violence Free Minnesota 2021 Advocate of the Year Award
- Bush Fellowship Awardee 2022
- Black Foundation Community Builder Winner ( One of the 15 chosen grant makers)
- St Catherine University 2021 Alumni of the Year Award 2021
- Humanitarian Impact in the Women Changing the World Award Dr Trent Nominated ( Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Guest)
- 2023 National Philanthropy Award Day Awardee “ Providing Safety for Immigrant Survivors “

- Master's Public Affairs Policy Phi Alpha Honors
- University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs
- United Nations Scholar

"Most times as women who are mission driven and especially working on our purpose driven work, we usually minimize just how much we do, having a moment to enter this space, where we reflect and remind each other of the various roles and impact we create is a part of self -care and refilling our cups."

When did you start your business?
Back in 2015, and incorporated it in 2017.
2023 Incooperating a new Wellness Collective

What was the inspiration behind your work/business?
I wanted to create the solution I needed for as many women as I could impact.
It was a response to a crisis and a gap that I noticed in my community ( The lack of culturally specific non-profit organizations serving African Immigrant women fleeing domestic abuse in Minnesota where I am based)

What are you most excited about in your work/business?
Creating radical change and advocating for policies that include those who have been historically underserved gives me joy.
Witnessing the journey of survivor move from victimhood, to thriving and taking her power back gives me a lot of hope, like Sue, ( not her real name), came to our shelter downtrodden and hopeless and now is getting ready to graduate from medical school, happily remarried to a wonderful man and got the custody of her daughter back! These stories are what excite me about the business.

What has been the most challenging thing about starting your work/business?
Building anything from its foundation especially when the ground does not have a level playing field, is challenging, as an Immigrant black woman founder, it has and continues to be challenging to shake the atmosphere and systems that were created to create gaps between demographics and ethnic backgrounds.
Capacity building is always challenging as the nature of our work depends on funding and it is sometimes not sustainable. Lastly, the process of building a team has been the most challenging, finding the aligned team players who can advance the mission of our work remains one of the challenging thing about starting and growing the work.

What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a work/business?
When the Great Spirit has put a vision on your heart, it is YOURS, and it is YOURS only to understand it.
Do not share and over-share your vision with many people, especially those closest to you, because they are too familiar with you at in my case, could never see me as a business owner, or entrepreneur, and since they will not understand that vision, they may talk you out of your dreams and goals.
Always have three mentors (a spiritual, professional and a mentor who is great with finances, get a good accountant before you start anything), these people will hold you up when things are tough.
Fall many times, but keep getting up and understand the purpose in those painful moments, when you know better, do better.
Also lastly, when you want to birth an idea, it is important to do a frequent check in with yourself, who is around you and why, be sure to be around the average of five people your future wants to be come.It is okay to purge, people, habits, spaces, and sysytems that do not add to your vision and business growth.

Why did you enter the Women Changing the World Awards?
Most times as women who are mission driven and especially working on our purpose driven work, we usually minimize just how much we do, having a moment to enter this space, where we reflect and remind each other of the various roles and impact we create is a part of self -care and refilling our cups.

What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?
The networking and connecting with fellow leaders were a great time of reflection for me and being inspired by the leadership of fellow women.

What surprised you most about the awards?
Awards reminded me of the goodness around us and especially the connectivity between us across the globe, trade and cultures.

How did the awards help you in your work/business?
The Awards served to highlight and celebrated our contributions in various fields, fostering a sense of empowerment, motivation, and visibility. Such recognition inspires others, promote diversity, and contribute to the advancement of women in their respective fields. Awards may also draw attention to issues related to gender equality and inspire positive change.

What advice would you give to other women thinking about entering the awards?
Recognize Your Achievements:
Take the time to reflect on your accomplishments. Be aware of the impact you've made in your field or community.

Build a Strong Nomination/Application:
Clearly articulate your achievements, skills, and the impact of your work. Provide evidence and examples that demonstrate your excellence.

Highlight Unique Contributions:
Emphasize what makes your contributions distinct and valuable. Showcase any innovations, leadership, or positive influence you've had.

Seek Guidance:
If possible, seek advice from mentors, colleagues, or others who have experience with the awards process. They may offer insights and feedback to strengthen your nomination.

Follow Application Guidelines:
Pay careful attention to the award criteria and guidelines. Ensure that your application aligns with the requirements and emphasizes the aspects that the awards committee values.

Prepare Supporting Materials:
Include any necessary documentation, such as testimonials, references, or additional materials that support your nomination.

Be Authentic:
Be genuine in your application. Authenticity can resonate with award committees and audiences.

Network and Connect:
Engage with the community surrounding the awards. Attend events, connect with past winners, and build a network. Networking can provide support and additional opportunities.

Embrace the Learning Experience:
Whether you win or not, see the awards process as a chance to reflect on your achievements and set new goals. Use the experience for personal and professional growth.

Encourage Others:
Celebrate the achievements of your peers and colleagues. A supportive community can be beneficial for everyone.
Remember that awards are not just about winning; they are a platform to showcase and celebrate the valuable contributions individuals make. Good luck!

What has been the best thing about starting your own work/business?
Independence and Autonomy:
Due to having my own business I enjoy the freedom to make decisions and set the direction of my business without relying on external guidance.

Creativity and Innovation:
Starting a business allowed me to pursue their creative ideas and bring innovative solutions to the market.

Business owners often have more control over their schedules, allowing for a better work-life balance.

Potential for Financial Reward:
Successful businesses can lead to financial stability and the potential for significant financial rewards.

Personal Growth:
Entrepreneurship can be a journey of personal development, involving continuous learning and overcoming challenges.

Building Something Meaningful:
Creating and growing my businesses have allowed me to build something meaningful and leave a lasting impact on their industry or community.

Creating Jobs and Opportunities:
I have been able to create opportunities for others Globally.
Entrepreneurs contribute to the economy by creating job opportunities for others and fostering economic growth.

Business owners can quickly adapt to changing market conditions and implement new strategies without navigating corporate bureaucracy.

Alignment with Passion:
Starting a business often allows individuals to align their work with their passions and interests.

Community Engagement:
Entrepreneurs can become integral parts of their communities, contributing to local development and engagement.
It's important to note that while entrepreneurship can be rewarding, it also comes with challenges and risks. Success often requires dedication, resilience, and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances.

What’s happening next in your work/business?
I am working on creating a Global Hub and Network that will enable me to provide technical assistance for those starting off as entrepreneurs. I am also working on becoming a funder so I can be able to make dreams come true!!! My capacity was built I am ready to build others as well.

What are your big plans for the future?
In the next five years I am looking forward to establishing my businesses and empire in Africa, which is the land of my birth. From a young age at least 9 years of age, I made promise to myself. I would travel and expand my world view and capacity and return home to serve.
Political aspirations are also in my future because Africa needs more female leadership.

How can we connect with you?



2024 Women Changing The World Awards

Nominations are open now for the 2024 Women Changing The World Awards