January 30, 2024

Batala McFarlane Named Executive Director of Friends of the Children – Twin Cities

McFarlane joined Friends of the Children – Twin Cities in May of 2023 as operations director and has been serving as interim executive director since September.


January 30, 2024 (Minneapolis, MINNESOTA)Friends of the Children – Twin Cities, a nonprofit organization that pairs children at risk of entering the foster care system with a paid professional mentor called a Friend for 12+ years, announced today that Batala McFarlane has been named the new executive director.

“It will be a game changer to have Batala serving as executive director,” said Kyrra Rankine, board chair of Friends of the Children – Twin Cities. “Her deep connections across the Twin Cities and her knowledge of both the strengths and challenges facing our community are a huge asset. Beyond that, Batala knows what is possible for every child, and she is passionate about how our mentoring model will help each child fulfill their unique potential. We’re lucky to have her.”

Friends of the Children – Twin Cities is working with its first cohort of 25 children in Hennepin and Ramsey counties. With the right supports, every child has great potential. Unfortunately, in Minnesota, outcomes for Black and Indigenous children are some of the most inequitable in the country, particularly related to child welfare system involvement, education, access to mental health services, homelessness and geographic segregation.

“I couldn’t be more excited to lead this group of talented staff,” said Batala McFarlane. “The work we are doing every day empowers youth to reach for their dreams—I can’t think of a more fulfilling and important job. Together we are working toward a future where every child who needs a Friend in the Twin Cities has one.”

McFarlane joined Friends of the Children – Twin Cities in May of 2023 as operations director and has been serving as interim executive director since September. Prior to joining the organization, Batala served as publisher of Insight News—Minnesota’s largest ethnic publication. She has more than 25 years of newsroom leadership, media production, marketing, and community organization experience. McFarlane was named publisher of Insight News in 1999, making her one of the youngest publishers of Black press in the country.

McFarlane is driven by her passion for fostering relationships and creating networks that support building communities where everyone can enjoy the opportunity to thrive. She was a founding board member of the Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota and has served on the KMOJ and Phyllis Wheatley Community Center boards. She is a member of the Hennepin Healthcare Community Advisory Board and is a trustee of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). Batala is actively engaged in her son’s school where she serves on the Parents Association Board. She is a chartering member of the Greater Twin Cities (MN) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.

A third-party evaluation of Friends of the Children program graduates showed that:

· 92% of graduates go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country or enter the workforce

· 83% of youth obtain a high school diploma or GED

· 93% remain free from juvenile justice system involvement

· 98% wait to parent until after their teen years

Friends of the Children is a national network with 36 locations across the United States. A return-on-investment study by the Harvard Business School Association of Oregon showed that every $1 invested in Friends of the Children returns more than $7 in benefit to the community.


About Friends of the Children – Twin Cities

Friends of the Children – Twin Cities is a nonprofit organization with the mission of impacting generational change by empowering youth who face the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors – 12+ years, no matter what. The Friends of the Children successful model is now in 36 locations around the country. Our work has been featured in The New York Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review and CBS News. Visit to learn more.


Ariane Le Chevallier