The Southwest Initiative Foundation is excited to introduce our new President/CEO, Diana Anderson.
Our Board of Directors unanimously voted Jan. 6 to approve Diana to this position. Per SWIF’s succession plan, Diana had served as interim president/CEO since August 2014, after the resignation of longtime SWIF president/CEO Sherry Ristau. At that time, the board also appointed a search committee and hired a search firm to explore all options during the transition process.
Committee chair Bob Thurston led the process to bring forward a recommendation to the board. He said the committee’s goal was to be open minded and transparent, representing all of SWIF’s stakeholders throughout it. He said it was a long, but rewarding process.
“Our firm brought forward exceptional candidates from a variety of backgrounds, so we know we got the best of the best,” Bob said. “We’re thrilled to have Diana as the new face of the foundation.”
Board Chair Robert Saunders complimented the search committee for their time and effort. He noted that taking the extra time to complete a thorough search may not have been the easy choice, but was important for best serving southwest Minnesota and a valuable experience.
“Diana rose to the top as an excellent candidate,” Rob said. “Her 14 years of experience at Southwest Initiative Foundation, commitment and connections to our communities, and leadership style will serve her and our organization well. The search process validated that we got the right person.”
Diana’s History of Leadership
Diana joined Southwest Initiative Foundation as development director in 2001, leading our fundraising efforts and starting SWIF’s community foundation program. In 2007, she was promoted to chief operating officer (COO). In this newly-created position, she provided leadership and oversight to SWIF’s internal operations and functions, including strategic planning, management team leadership and program design.
In 2011, Diana was again promoted to vice president/COO, playing a more visible role in program development and delivery, working alongside SWIF team leads in communities across the southwest Minnesota region.
Diana is credited with building our community foundation program, establishing our Keep It Growing℠ farmland giving program, creating our Growing Home Circle for general endowment giving, designing our Facilitation and Transfer Fieldguide curriculum to train staff, leading our 2011-2016 strategic planning process, and aligning talent and processes to best serve our mission.
During her time as interim, Diana’s visits with regional leaders affirmed that they are hopeful, excited and passionate about the future. She said she will use her new role to listen, learn and evaluate how to embrace SWIF’s role as a rural, regional community foundation.
“I’ve been inspired by how our team pulled together to ensure a smooth leadership transition,” Diana said. “Change is good and offers us a chance to think differently. I am excited to step into this position when our organization has so many opportunities to make a positive impact. I look forward to growth, focus and continued commitment of our Southwest Initiative Foundation mission, working together with incredible people throughout southwest Minnesota.”
Prior to joining SWIF, Diana was in administration at Sanford Canby for 11 years. She has a background in communications, business administration and healthcare administration. She serves on a number of boards, including the Community Foundation National Standards Board, GiveMN.org, Vacker Place, Aveyron Homes, Inc., and Hutchinson Rotary.
Join us in welcoming this exciting new era of Southwest Initiative Foundation leadership!