Robert Lilligren is the CEO of the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI), an asset-based development nonprofit. A citizen of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation, he is the first Tribal member to serve on the Met Council. He served for over 12 years as the Vice President on the Minneapolis City Council, again the first Native person serving on that body. Lilligren has a lifelong history of community service at all levels. He has served on the boards of many nonprofit organizations, like OutFront MN and LSS. He is past chair of, and still active in, the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID), a regional Native leadership forum. Among other positions, Lilligren currently serves as an officer for the board of Meet Minneapolis, the city's convention and visitors bureau, the Heading Home Hennepin Executive Committee that works to end homelessness in the county, and on the capital campaign committees of several community-based projects.
Robert Lilligren lives in south Minneapolis and represents District 7, which includes north Minneapolis, downtown Minneapolis, south-central Minneapolis, and Robbinsdale.
Lilligren has extensive experience in local government, specifically in housing, transportation, community development, and community engagement. He served on the Minneapolis City Council from 2001 to 2014, including as Council Vice President for 12 of those years, and as a leader on several city commissions and collaborative groups. He also served on the Metropolitan Council’s Transportation Advisory Board for 12 years while a local elected official.
He works as an executive at the Native American Community Development Institute, and previously served as CEO of the Little Earth United Tribes. Prior to his local government service, he worked as a housing developer and general contractor, building and managing affordable housing in south Minneapolis.
Lilligren said he will focus on equity, particularly in local economic development in the region, as a Council member. He hopes to bring his experience as a facilitator and consensus builder to his work as a Council member, and tap into the values and interests of the communities and stakeholders.
“Advancing equity in our region is the best expression and means of progress toward Gov. Walz’s vision of One Minnesota. I am passionate about community engagement and inclusive decision-making. We have our best successes when we engage collectively with a broad range of stakeholders. It is a core value of mine to honor all perspectives,” Lilligren said.
Lilligren’s education background includes studies in music, English, French and education at the University of Minnesota and Macalester College, leadership courses at the National League of Cities University, and two leadership development programs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
After living on the same block in the Phillips neighborhood for 36 years, Lilligren and his husband, Steve, recently moved to the Loring Heights Neighborhood just south of downtown Minneapolis where they enjoy the walkability, parks, and amenities of the area.