A strong leader is someone who draws you in. A person you admire and trust, who is smart, forward-thinking, engaging and someone who encourages and challenges you.
Robert Saunders ticks all of these boxes. For eight years, including the last two as chair, Rob has volunteered his time on Southwest Initiative Foundation’s Board of Directors.
As a rural, regional community foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation is a complex nonprofit. We fundraise and award grants. But we also make loans and lead programs. We manage community foundation affiliates and host 100 other family, school and agency funds.
Not only does Rob understand what we do, but he believes whole-heartedly in why we do it. He often shares he serves because it’s his way of giving back to a community that has given his family so much.
As a CPA in Bird Island, Rob works with clients every day who are building their lives in our rural communities. Farmers, teachers, entrepreneurs, service members—whether they have been here for generations or just moved in today, Rob believes southwest Minnesota is a region rich with opportunity.
Sure, we have challenges to address: workforce demands, affordable housing, childcare shortages, fluctuating ag economy, an aging population. But instead of saying, “We can’t change that,” leaders like Rob say, “Let’s get to work.”
Rob provided transformational leadership as Southwest Initiative Foundation entered a new era. He led our presidential search process and conversations that will guide our next strategic plan. He is a tireless advocate for our early childhood and community foundation programs, where he’s been active at a local level through our the BOLD Early Childhood Initiative and BIO Legacy Foundation.
His compassion and enthusiasm extend across our entire 12,340 square mile-region. Every other month, we travel to a different place for our board meetings. We tour local businesses and organizations and visit with employers, local leaders and community members. And we leave excited because of the new things we’ve learned and can share with our region.
Our board and staff are grateful to Rob for his unwavering optimism, thoughtfulness, and vision for what southwest Minnesota can be. It’s a joy to follow the lead of someone who is so passionate about the place he calls home and gives countless hours to preserving and promoting it. We thank him for serving as our board chair.
Who are the “Robs” in your community? Please encourage, support, and thank them for their transformational leadership!