Any good leader will tell you that if you’re going to make a change, you should do it on the highest note possible. That’s certainly the case for me right now.
I have accepted the position as new President/CEO of the Great River Bend Community Foundation, serving communities along the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities area of Davenport and Bettendorf (in Iowa) and Rock Island and Moline (in Illinois).
After 20+ years at Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF), including the last 17 as your President/CEO, I wasn’t looking for a change. When I was first approached about this new opportunity, I brushed it off. I LOVE what I do here for southwest Minnesota. We are doing incredible work here in our region thanks to the generous support of MANY people like you. I’ve built my life, family and career in rural Minnesota. How could I leave?
The answer is I believe strongly that “change” is good and I believe in the possibilities of the future.
SWIF is a truly unique and innovative organization. We have what I have recently started calling a winning “Super Bowl” staff and board. It takes a lot to put together a winning game plan, but it takes even more to win the game. Southwest Minnesota is winning the game!
I see exciting opportunities for the Quad Cities region, too. The Great River Bend Community Foundation is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. While there are some similarities between our foundations and regions, this change will bring me new challenges. It will put my strengths to use–building new relationships, lifting up community, business and rural leaders, thinking big and helping inspire others about the future. And, it will be a great philanthropic experiment, putting ideas from our coveted Minnesota Initiative Foundations model to the test outside of our great state.
It has been an absolute honor for me to serve this organization and our southwest Minnesota regional community. I have been blessed beyond belief by what SWIF has given me. This has been a difficult decision to make, but I believe this is an opportunity to “raise the bar” that I must find the courage to embrace.
I am SO grateful for your friendship and support given to me personally and to SWIF. My employment at SWIF ends Sept. 5. Rest assured this organization is in great hands! Our Board of Directors, led by Chair Rob Saunders, is implementing our succession plan. You’ll be kept informed as the process unfolds.
I have surrounded myself with the BEST people–and that includes each one of you. Know that you mean so much to me and I look forward to what the future holds for us all!
All the best (and hugs to each of you),
Sherry E. Ristau