HUTCHINSON, Minn.—Teresa Peterson, Utuhu Cistinna Win, of the Upper Sioux Community was recently elected to the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) Board of Directors. She makes her home near Belview.
Peterson is a tribal member of the Upper Sioux Community, where she serves as Tribal Planner. Prior, she worked as the Tribal Planner for the Lower Sioux Indian Community. Peterson is an adjunct faculty in the Indigenous Nations and Dakota Studies for Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall and a founder of Dakota Wicohan, a Native nonprofit whose work is in Dakota language and lifeways revitalization.
“We are thrilled to have Teresa join our Board of Directors,” said SWIF President/CEO Diana Anderson. “She brings an incredible wealth of knowledge and expertise in community development. We are excited for Teresa to help us strengthen and build new connections with our two Native nations—the Upper Sioux Community and Lower Sioux Indian Community.”
Peterson is a 2011 Bush Leadership Fellow and was recently selected as a Native Nation Rebuilder through the Native Governance Center. She is an Americans for Indian Opportunity Ambassador and board member and Blandin Indian Reservation Leadership alumna.
Peterson was Vice Chairwoman of the Upper Sioux Community from 2003 to 2007 and a past Tribal Government Official awardee of the Minnesota Indian Education Association. In 2001, she earned a Dakota language apprenticeship where she could study and record Dakota language from her grandmother and father-in-law.
“I see this as an opportunity to provide Dakota voice to Southwest Initiative Foundation’s work since the Upper and Lower Sioux Communities are in this region,” Peterson said.
She is inspired by SWIF’s Grow Our Own initiative focusing on children in poverty. “In Dakota culture, we value interdependence and reliance on each other because we all have gifts and strengths to offer. We say, ‘We’re all related.’ And closing the opportunity gap for kids in poverty is something everyone can get behind. We’re all going to work on it together.”
Peterson earned her doctorate in Education from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and was selected as a Holmes Scholar through the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and a Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Endowed Scholar. Her research was on a cultural intervention’s influence on American Indian students’ sense of belonging. She also received a M.S. in Educational Leadership from Southwest Minnesota State University where she was an Ethel Curry Scholar, and B.A. in Human Services from the University of Minnesota Morris.
In addition to Peterson, the SWIF Board of Directors includes Chair Bob Thurston, Olivia; Vice Chair Janice Nelson, Montevideo; Past Chair Rob Saunders, Bird Island; Secretary Tim Connell, Luverne; Treasurer Jan Ludebrek, Benson; Christie Hantge, Hutchinson; Patricia Loehr-Dols, Willmar; Mary Maertens, Marshall; Randy Reinke, Litchfield; and Mark Titus, Jackson. This is a volunteer board.
The Southwest Initiative Foundation is a single connection offering unlimited possibilities to grow and promote people, businesses, entrepreneurs and communities in rural southwest Minnesota. As a regional community foundation, SWIF has contributed more than $73 million through its grant and loan programs. SWIF has helped more than 700 businesses start or expand through its business finance programs, which have created or retained more than 8,590 jobs. SWIF has also established 16 Early Childhood Initiative coalitions, 25 community foundations and more than 100 donor-advised, school foundations and other funds. The Southwest Initiative Foundation is an equal opportunity provider and employer.