Darlene Lorraine McClaine McKinnon was born on July 28, 1943 in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated from an all-girls public high school, Western High School, in Baltimore in 1961. McKinnon attended Morgan State University and received her B.A. degree in business from the University of the Redlands in Redlands, California in 1985.
From 1974 to 1979, McKinnon was the Assistant to the Development Director for the Rouse Company, a real estate development company that pioneered the development of new cities including Columbia, Maryland. In 1977, she became the procurement director for the Council for Equal Business Opportunity in Maryland. Since 1979, McKinnon has held several positions in the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in California. Over the years, she has held the positions of Assistant Director of Business Development and District Director of Development. Following her graduation from the SBA’s prestigious District Directors Candidate Program and moving to San Francisco from San Diego, McKinnon became the Deputy District Director for the San Francisco District Office. McKinnon has been responsible for the start-up of key programs such as the Entrepreneur Centers in Silicon Valley, East Bay and San Francisco and the SBA Business Coaches.
In addition to her work with the SBA, McKinnon has operated her own small business, TheaterGoers International, and instructed business courses at San Diego State University. She is the co-founder of the San Diego Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners; is a board member of the Northern California Supplier Development Council; and a member on the President’s Board of the Children’s Hospital of Oakland. McKinnon is listed in Who’s Who Among Black Americans, has been recognized by Soroptomists International and received its Woman of Achievement Awards. In 1992, she was named one of San Diego’s 100 Local Business and Community Leaders. In 2003, McKinnon was named one of the Fifty Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley. She serves on numerous advisory boards and community organizations and has a passion for fine arts, photography and cars.