Honorary Degree Recipient
Doctor of Laws
Humphrey School of Public Affairs, May 18, 2019
Laysha Ward, 2019 commencement speaker for the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Indiana University and a master’s degree in social services administration with an emphasis in management and public policy from the University of Chicago. She began her career with Target in 1991 as a member of the store sales and management team of Marshall Fields in Chicago. She steadily made her way up through the ranks to the position she currently holds -- executive vice president and chief external engagement officer, Target Corporation in Minneapolis. In this role she is responsible for overseeing Target’s enterprise-wide approach to engage and deepen relationships with external stakeholders to drive positive business and community impact. She is credited with bringing tangible and lasting change to countless lives through her corporate and community leadership; as mentor and champion for women, children, and people of color; and as a volunteer helping to steer important organizations. Since 1946, Target has given five percent of its income to communities. Under Ward’s leadership, Target’s commitment to contribute $1 billion to education and employee volunteerism surpassed one million hours in local communities nationwide and around the world. She also established Target’s first multi-year, enterprise-wide diversity and inclusion goals. In 2008, President Bush nominated and the U.S. Senate confirmed Ward to serve on the board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service (2012-2013). She then served as board chair under President Obama (2005-2013). Her service on boards and councils include the Latinos and Society Advisory Board and the Stanford Center for Longevity Advisory Council, and she is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, to name a few. Ward is the recipient of numerous awards and recognition. She received the Voices for National Service Citizen Service Award (2014), African American Leadership Forum Community Service Award (2017), and UNCF Minnesota Masked Ball Award (2018). In 2019, Ward was recognized by Savoy as “Top 50 Executives,” and “Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America” (2018, 2017, and 2016). Black E
Biographies are as-of time of award presentation.