Angela Steward-Randle ’88 became one of the most senior African American women in the Minnesota National Guard and now finds herself embodying those service values at Neighborhood House, where she aids refugees, immigrants and others in transition or crisis.
Angela Steward-Randle ’88 has never strayed far from a life of service. As a teen, her mother volunteered her as a neighborhood babysitter. Angela wasn’t thrilled about it, but even then she understood it helped others when they needed it.
Her father provided for the family as an active airman in the U.S. Air Force. At one point the family lived in Germany, and would invite single service members to their house for weekend barbecues – because otherwise they had nowhere to go.
And when it came time to satisfy her mother’s hope that she would attend a good Catholic school, Angela found her next way to serve. A scholarship through the Reserve Officer Training Corps helped pay her way at the College of Saint Benedict.
That led to a career of almost 30 years in the Minnesota National Guard. She rose to the rank of colonel and retired in 2018 as one of the most senior African American women in the history of the branch.
“God has a plan and it’s been evident in everything I’ve done,” said Steward-Randle, who will be honored with the 2023 Distinguished Alumna award at this year’s CSB reunion. “I don’t always know what it is, but it’s there.”
She majored in psychology and was interested in an Army career as a medical service officer – one weekend a month and two weeks each summer. But in 2000 she took a sabbatical from her civilian job to take on a temporary active-duty position with the National Guard. After 9/11, she never looked back – taking on a full-time job as a civilian Federal Technician with the Guard, in addition to her uniformed role.
She has served as deputy commander of the Guard’s medical detachment and in various other leadership roles – including as executive officer of a brigade-size element operating in 11 communities in all parts of the state. In 2003-04, she deployed to Kosovo in support of Operation Joint Guardian. In 2009-10, she went to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. When she retired, she was the director of diversity and inclusion and family programs manager for both the state air and army guards.
Eventually she earned a master’s degree in human resources and, in her Federal Technician role, became director of human resources, manpower and personnel for the Minnesota Army National Guard. In 2018 she retired as a Federal Technician and shifted over to lead those operations for a year with the Minnesota Department of Administration – covering a variety of state agencies, boards and councils.
After all those years of service though, she found herself facing potential loss of her home as the result of a divorce. Her lifeline was Neighborhood House – a West St. Paul hub for refugees, immigrants and others in transition or crisis, seeking assistance with basic needs from food to housing and family coaching. She became their director of human resources.
“There’s a personal connection there for me,” Steward-Randle said. “I’ve lived the experience. When I was in seventh grade, my dad was on a hardship tour. He was overseas and our family was in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. That was the first time we hadn’t lived on a military base. We were basically on welfare with food stamps and using the reduced-price lunch program at school. It occurred to me coming back to Neighborhood House that I know what it’s like to struggle.
“I’ve learned the value of doing things for someone else,” she added. “It’s taught me that, regardless of how much money you make, when you help others, it makes you feel wealthy. And, if you share what you have, it comes back to you tenfold.”