HUTCHINSON, Minn.— Ivan Parga of Worthington has joined Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) staff as a community engagement specialist. In this role, he works to identify local strengths and challenges, build community-based skills and be a resource to the region through community-led partnerships, especially with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
Previously, Parga worked in corporate community engagement. He’s also been involved in local and electoral politics as well as various nonprofits and projects including Be the Change and Voices for Racial Justice.
“Connecting to people, hearing their stories, and taking steps to make sure those stories are validated and advocated for are some of the reasons this role is a great fit for me,” Parga said. “Southwest Initiative Foundation’s mission and values are aligned with mine, particularly in our shared goals of continuing to develop and advocate for southwest Minnesota.”
Community engagement is core to Southwest Initiative Foundation’s mission of connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities. The foundation brings people together with innovative approaches to build vibrant and welcoming communities. It’s one of the pillars that kids need to succeed in the foundation’s Grow Our Own strategic framework, which is focused on helping all southwest Minnesota kids and families reach their full potential from cradle to career. This work is led by a team of SWIF staff – including Parga – focused on rural equity, youth and family, and civic and community engagement.
“We are delighted to have Ivan on the SWIF team. His passion and skills will help develop new initiatives and projects that move us toward a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive,” said Nancy Fasching, SWIF Vice President of Community Impact.
Parga is the second community engagement specialist to join the foundation in the last year. Than Than Kyaw started in a similar role Aug. 22, 2022. The community impact team has expanded to reflect the increasing needs and requests from communities that are working on being places where all people feel welcome and like they belong.
About Southwest Initiative Foundation
Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) is a nonprofit community foundation connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities to create a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive. Since its founding in 1986, SWIF has distributed more than $107 million through its grantmaking and business finance programs.