Featuring 2020 Women of Inspiration Honoree:
Foundation Programs Coordinator
WISE Twin Cities is celebrating Monterae Carter, Foundation Programs Coordinator at the Minnesota Vikings, as one of this year’s 2020 Women of Inspiration honorees.
In an ideal scenario, where do you see yourself and your future? Monterae Carter was asked this in an interview for her internship with the Minnesota Vikings and said she would either own a food truck or be a marketing executive. And, what happened?
Believe it or not, Carter brought that food truck vision to life. Since her time with the Vikings – this is now her fifth season – the organization launched the Minnesota Vikings Foundation as well as its new Vikings Table Food Truck.
“The mission of our foundation is youth, health and education,” said Carter. “We wanted to start with health first, because our mindset is, how can you be prepared to learn if your basic needs aren’t being met? You’re hungry. You need rest. You need the basic essentials. And, then we’ll develop more education programming. So, when they told me, hey, we want to do a food truck, I started researching and put together all these things. Our legal department said, I don’t know if we’re equipped for the food business, so, we actually work with O’Cheeze, if you’re familiar with them.”
O’Cheeze was on board since the very beginning. For the research. For the construction. For the development of the menu and the cooking.
The food truck took two years to launch and hit the streets in June of 2019. It served just under 5,000 meals to youths in its first year.
“Now, we are in year two, and, obviously an unprecedented year in the pandemic,” said Carter. “We are now up to 11,000 meals distributed just this year. I’m super excited about that, to increase our output by almost 100%. And, definitely a safe model for distribution for those kids. It was very critical from our board. They urged us to still find some solution to show up and be there for those kids that are going to need us now more than ever. I’m grateful to them for pushing us.”
Carter and her team have been able to distribute 100 meals every week since the beginning of March. She has worked tirelessly to aid in the constant inflow of needs in the community, despite the consuming challenge of scheduling who gets the food and where the truck goes.
The trial of the past seven months has provided Carter an opportunity of growth.
“I think I wanted to push through my own personal anxiety to make sure I still show up as an advocate for all of the issues in our community,” said Carter. “Whether that be hunger and insecurity. Whether that be diversity and inclusion. I just found myself able to push my personal feelings aside and be a voice within our own Vikings organization as well as in the community. I surprised myself.”
The trial of the past seven months has also provided Carter a turning point in her career. She saw her mentor of the past five years, Debra Jones, retire from the Vikings after 30 years with the organization.
The leadership qualities Carter appreciated in Jones have shown up within herself. She finds herself leading by example, through honesty and a straightforward approach. She finds herself using the platform the Vikings’ have provided through its diversity and inclusion arm to help develop a workplace everyone wants to work in. These qualities were always there inside Carter, but there’s a special alignment now that has carried them to the forefront.
“One day, she was just like, Monterae, I believe in you, you’re going to do great things,” said Carter. “And, even if she wasn’t in the office, she always was in my corner. I think that all translates back to WISE’s main mission of women supporting women. I’m grateful that I had her for my internship year and I had her four years in my career. And, I’m also going to have her for the rest of my life as someone that I can ask questions about my personal life or professional life. She was our longest standing employee of color within the Vikings. So, I really felt a personal calling within myself to be more vocal, be more out there, really, for the people of color that come after me in the organization. I want to be that mentor that Deb [Jones] was for me.”
Carter has created positive outcomes in the face of adversity.
She has shown up for the community through her efforts in manifesting and operating the Vikings Table Food Truck. She has shown up for her organization by being vocal about representation and culture. Most importantly, she has shown up for herself.