Board of Directors

Robert Thurston Photo

Robert Thurston

President: Thurston Genetics
Olivia, MN

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Robert L. Thurston, Spicer, is currently the president of Olivia-based Thurston Genetics, a national and international corn genetics licensing company. He has worked in agriculture—and specifi cally the seed corn industry—his entire adult life, and founded Thurston, Inc. in 1980 and Thurston Genetics in 1994. Thurston holds leadership positions in other organizations including the Ridgewater Foundation, Corn Capital Trust in Olivia, American Bank of Olivia and Renville, Minnesota Postsecondary Agricultural Students Organization, Minnesota Renewable Energy Marketplace – Alliance for Talent Development, American Seed Trade Assn., Independent Professional Seedsman and other state and national agricultural organizations and committees.

Janice Nelson Photo

Janice Nelson

Vice Chair
Attorney: Nelson Oyen Torvik, P.L.L.P
Montevideo, MN

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Janice Nelson, Montevideo, is an attorney with the firm of Nelson Oyen Torvik, P.L.L.P. in Montevideo where she concentrates in real estate, estate planning, elder law and probate, as well as serving as the Montevideo city attorney. She is the secretary of the real property council for the Minnesota State Bar Association and will progress to the position of president. Nelson graduated from Augsburg College, Minneapolis, worked in banking and later graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School. She returned to practice law in her hometown of Montevideo.

Rob Saunders PhotoRobert Saunders

Past Chair
Senior Partner: Saunders Mertens Schmitz, P.A., Certified Public Accountants, Bird Island, MN

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Rob Saunders, Bird Island, is senior partner at Saunders Mertens Schmitz, P.A., Certified Public Accountants and owner of Island Financial Planning, Inc., in Bird Island. He is a member of the Minnesota State Board of Accountancy and the Minnesota Financial Planning Association, past president of the Minnesota Association of Public Accountants, past chairman of the Bird Island Economic Development Authority and treasurer of the BOLD Foundation. Saunders attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, was a TopGun graduate and served as a U.S. Naval Flight Officer.

Tim Connell

Tim Connell

Retired: Judge-Fifth Judicial District, Rock County, Luverne, MN

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Tim Connell is a retired judge of the Fifth Judicial District, Rock County, Luverne, Minn. He was appointed by former Gov. Rudy Perpich on June 30, 1987. Connell is a high school graduate of Luverne High School, has a B.A. in Humanities from St. John’s University and received his Juris Doctor Degree from William Mitchell College of Law in 1976. Connell was in private practice for 11 years before being appointed judge. He is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association. Connell is very active in the Luverne community, serving as chair of the Rock County Children’s Justice Initiative and Rock County Collaborative 6-12 Work Team. He is also active in various civic groups including his church, Rotary Club, Rock County Community Education Board and many others. Connell resides in Luverne with his wife, Connie. They have three adult children.

Jan Lundebrek

Jan Lundebrek

President: First Security Bank
Benson, MN

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Janet Lundebrek is the Benson Branch President of the First Security Bank of Sleepy Eye. She has worked extensively in the field of agriculture at a county, state and national level. She was a founding member of the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Plant Board and has been an executive officer of the company since. Jan has served on many civic boards including the Salvation Army, Benson Hospital Foundation and Benson Area Community Foundation. Jan has been active in the Renewable Fuels Association, ACE and Farmers Union. She also served on the MNREM leadership board that sponsored the WIRED Energy Grants. In addition, she served as past president of the Benson Area Chamber of Commerce and as community development chair for several years. Jan has a long history with Southwest Initiative Foundation, including participating in the Project LEAD women’s program and volunteering on the loan advisory committee.
Christie Hantge

Christie Hantge

Consultant for Community and Economic Development in southwest Minnesota and in Minneapolis
Hutchinson, MN

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Christie provides community and economic development consulting services to small cities and Minneapolis neighborhood organizations. Her previous work experience includes serving as economic development coordinator for the City of Norwood Young America and the St. Cloud Area Economic Development Partnership, EDA director for the City of Hutchinson, and executive director of the Longfellow Community Council, a nonprofit neighborhood organization in Minneapolis. Current board and volunteer service includes the incoming president of the Economic Development Association of Minnesota, chair of the Hutchinson Planning Commission, assistant coach of the Hutchinson Girls Track and Field Team, Children’s Grief Connection, and Historic Hutchinson. Christie also served three terms on Southwest Initiative Foundation’s Loan Advisory Committee. 
Patricia Loehr-Dols

Patricia Loehr-Dols

Retired – Elementary Principal
Willmar, MN

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Patricia Loehr-Dols makes her home in Willmar and is a retired elementary school principal. Most recently, Patricia served as principal at Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar where she was responsible for 900 diverse students and 100 staff.Patricia has a long-standing commitment to rural communities and education. She is a member of the Minnesota Elementary Principal’s Association and Association of Supervision & Curriculum Development. She is active with the SWIF’s Willmar Early Childhood Initiative. She also serves as co-chair for Empower “Women United in Philanthropy” and president for the Willmar Public School Foundation.In 2001, Patricia was named a Business and Professional Women – Women of the Year. She is a co-founder of the area lakes Studio Hop art event and coordinator of Wonder Camp, a math and science camp for girls. She has also provided leadership in her church.

Mary Maertens photoMary Maertens

President/CEO: Avera Health
Marshall, MN

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Mary Maertens is the regional president/CEO of Avera Health in Marshall and a voting board member of Avera Marshall. Mary provided leadership during the sale of the medical center in 2008, repositioning the organization as an integ rated system.Mary has extensive leadership and healthcare experience in rural Minnesota. She has recruited 30 physicians and mid-level practitioners to the community. She also redesigned the foundation structure to improve Avera Health’s philanthropic a ctivities in the Marshall area.Mary serves on the Minnesota Hospital Association’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee. She is active with other community organizations including Rotary, United Way and her church and is past board chair of the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce.

Greg Raymo PhotoGreg Raymo

President: First State Bank Southwest
Worthington, MN

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Greg Raymo of Worthington is president at First State Bank Southwest. He is on the Board of Directors for both the First Rushmore Bancorporation and Holding Company. He has served on boards at Sanford Regional Medical Center, Worthington Regional Economic Development, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, and others. Before living in Worthington, Greg lived in Madison, Minn., where he served as mayor, city council member, Chamber of Commerce president – elect and fire chief. Greg has been associated with SWIF for more than 20 years. He and wife Barb are members of SWIF’s Growing Home Circle. He was a recipient of one of SWIF’s 20 – Year Anniversary Awards. Later in 2009, Greg received the Southwest Initiative Foundation Award, recognizing his contributions as a philanthropist, leader, innovator and collaborator. He has been active with SWIF’s Worthington Early Childhood Initiative, and has served on SWIF’s Loan Advisory Committee.

Randy Reinke 7-14 webRandy Reinke

President/CEO: Custom Products of Litchfield
Litchfield, MN

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Randy Reinke is President/CEO of Custom Products of Litchfield, a sheet metal and tubing fabricator specializing in the design, testing and manufacture of cab enclosures and rollover protection for off-highway vehicles. Randy joined the company in 1979. In addition to his leadership at Custom Products, Randy serves on multiple state and local boards and committees. Current positions include Grow Minnesota!, Workers Compensation Research Institute, Litchfield School Board – School Improvement Advisory Council, Trifac Workers’ Compensation Fund, Aggregate Security Insurance Group – A Risk Retention Group, and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Randy is also active with the Litchfield Area Community Foundation, one of SWIF’s 24 community foundation affiliates.  

Mark Titus

Mark Titus

Semi-retired: Veterinarian
Jackson, MN

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Mark Titus is a veterinarian living in Jackson. He is currently employed by Newport Laboratories in Worthington as Senior Manager, Regulatory Affairs and Technical Support. Prior to his career in the animal health industry, he worked as a practicing veterinarian in Jackson. Mark received his undergraduate college education at Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa, and his DVM and MS degrees from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn. He is a past director of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association and past president of the Association of Veterinary Biologics Companies. Mark is a life-long resident of southwest Minnesota and has served his community as a member and officer of the Jackson and Jackson County Central (JCC) school boards, JCC Education Foundation and Jackson Community Foundation. 

Former Board Members

J. Terry Anderson
Jim Bakken
Gary Becker
Doug Bultman
Connie Burchill *
Elroy Burgeson *
Cliff Carmody
Robert Carothers
Connie Connell
Marcy Costello
Connie J. Crowell
Joyce Dass
Rick Ellingworth
Ron Erpelding
Jeff Ettinger
Wayne Freese, D.V.M.
Gary Geiger
Larry Graf
Kent Gustafson
Jeff Haag
James Hamilton
Alicia Johnson
Ronald Johnson
Jim Keul
Dennis Klute
Myron Koets
Mark Lofthus
Sander Ludeman
Mary Magnus
Dr. Phil Maus
William McCormack
Connie VanDerBill    Medin
Gerald Michaelson *
Francis Mortier
Ron Noyes
Mary Page *
Becky Parker
Margaret Preska
Joan Ratzloff
Dr. Mary Retterer
H. Cris Remucal, M.D.
Vince Robinson
Berdette Schoep
Don Stella
Bob Taubert
Elwood Throndrud *
Timothy B. Ulrich
Gloria VandeBrake
Laura Warne
Hugh Wegner *
Lyle Weismantel



@2017 Southwest Initiative Foundation, an equal opportunity provider and employer.

15 3rd Avenue NW
Hutchinson, MN 55350
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