Before becoming county commissioner in 2005, Toni Carter served on the school board for 10 years, and prior to that she spent time as a middle school teacher. Her focus on children and education continues to impact her approach to county leadership: “I like to think of my experience on a school board as an entrée to government,” she says. “Still, this work is far beyond what I could have imagined.”
During her tenure, Carter has made juvenile justice a key focus, spearheading efforts to develop mentoring programs and provide jail alternatives for low-risk youth offenders. She also has been working on legislation to make sure that social workers assigned to families of youths in the corrections system are spending enough time with them. Carter is the chair of the Human Services and Education Steering Committee of the National Association of Counties; she’s also the president of the Association of Minnesota Counties.
The first African-American leader ever to serve on a county board in the state of Minnesota, Carter says her focus remains local and she has no interest in seeking a state or federal office. “I’m not interested in that. I want to continue to be a mentor to young people who can take this work forward once I retire.”