Teresa Peterson completes more than six years on Southwest Initiative Foundation Board of Directors
Local grant to Dakota Wicohan designated in honor of Peterson’s volunteer service
MORTON, Minn.— Teresa Peterson, Utuhu Cistinna Win, is retiring from the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) Board of Directors following more than six years of service.
Peterson has provided regional leadership on SWIF’s board since April 2017. As a writer, educator and program manager for NDN Collective, Peterson provided insights to all areas of SWIF’s work. A Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota and Member of the Upper Sioux Community, Peterson embodies the Dakota value of oḣaƞwaṡte – generosity. She brings her Dakota culture to conversations and decision making, which has raised awareness, understanding and new learning across a diverse set of community members.
Peterson said she views SWIF’s Grow Our Own work as one of the most important strategies to support the region. Launched in 2016, Grow Our Own aligns foundation resources and builds momentum to close the opportunity gap for kids by investing in the people and systems that surround them.
“Whether looking at education, economy, safety — our collective well-being is dependent upon our greatest asset, the people. We are the answers to our greatest problems,” Peterson said. “A relative of mine has always said, ‘We’re supposed to be medicine for each other.’ And oh my gosh, the rich diversity of people. We need to stop thinking of differences as problems but as strengths and opportunities. Think of the multitude of ideas and approaches!”
The SWIF Board of Directors is a governing board that ensures the organization fulfills its mission of connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities in southwest Minnesota. This volunteer board sets strategy, manages resources and promotes the foundation’s work. There are meetings every other month and, in a typical year, many miles covered visiting different communities in the region, which includes 18 counties and two Native nations that share this geography.
Together with fellow board members, Peterson led the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic and a president/CEO leadership transition. During her service, SWIF celebrated its 1,000th loan, the community foundation program’s 20th anniversary, the launch of several new programs—from Welcoming Week to Employer Resource Network®— reaching total assets of $100 million and more.
Peterson also represented SWIF in CFLead’s Economic Mobility Action Network national cohort, sharing experiences and learning from rural southwest Minnesota with five other community foundations across the country.
“Teresa brought curiosity and enthusiasm to her role on our board,” said SWIF President Scott Marquardt. “She has brought her perspective to key strategic conversations and decisions that will strengthen our organization for years to come and affect the economic mobility of future generations throughout our region. Her foundation colleagues appreciated her approachability and ability to dream big.”
In honor of her service, Peterson is directing a $650 grant from SWIF to Dakota Wicohan, a Native-led nonprofit based in Morton, Minn. Dakota Wicohan is revitalizing Dakota arts, storytelling, care of horses and youth leadership grounded in WoDakota and consensus decision making. Peterson helped found Dakota Wicohan 20 years ago and led the organization for a time.
“Grassroots groups are often overlooked, quietly doing their work, but are comprised of change makers and movement makers. Small nonprofits are always challenged with maintaining capacity, whether resources or leadership. Yet Dakota Wicohan has been going for over 20 years now,” Peterson said. “Many people have come and gone through their programming, staffing, and board and so it’s a testament to the spirit of its vision and mission, and the many prayers and good medicine that the people have brought.”
In addition to Peterson, Randy Reinke of Litchfield is retiring from our board this year following nine years of service. Current board members are chair Christie Hantge, Hutchinson; vice chair Dan Greve, Worthington; secretary Terry Gaalswyk, Worthington; past chair Patricia Dols, Willmar; Tom Brakke, Deephaven; Abdirizak Mahboub, Willmar; Erica Volkir, Pipestone; Kathy Wehking, Hector; and Theresa Zaske, Balaton. Read more about our current board members