HUTCHINSON, Minn.— Erica Volkir of Pipestone and Benjamin Wilcox of Benson have been elected to the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) Board of Directors.
Volkir is the executive director of the Pipestone Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. Originally from Omaha, Neb., she majored in political science and psychology at St. Olaf College and went on to obtain her juris doctorate from the University of Minnesota Law School. She served as a judicial law clerk and public defender earlier in her career and remains a licensed attorney.
A dedicated business, community and nonprofit advocate, Volkir is involved in leadership roles with Pipestone Girl Scouts, Pipestone Forward, Pipestone Kiwanis Club, Friends of the Casey Jones State Trail Association, Explore Southwest Minnesota Tourism, Southern Minnesota Tourism Association, Southwest Minnesota Arts Council and Mid-America Chamber Executives. Erica makes her home in Pipestone with her fiancé, Tom Steffes.
“I strongly believe in and share the foundation’s vision of a southwest Minnesota where everyone thrives,” Volkir said. “I like that this organization is a regional leader in spearheading big picture ideas that are essential to the future growth of our region by investing in the people, resources, small businesses and youth in our communities.”
Wilcox grew up in Benson and is now an attorney in his hometown. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from University of Minnesota, Morris. After college, Wilcox worked in banking in the Twin Cities before returning to school to study law. He graduated from William Mitchell College of Law and has worked with his father at Wilcox Law Office in Benson for more than a decade.
“I want to devote more time to the organizations that support rural areas of Minnesota. Southwest Initiative Foundation is a leader in this field, and I appreciate the opportunity to become a member of the board,” said Wilcox, who makes his home in Benson with his wife, Kerry, and their two children.
Wilcox serves as city attorney for six communities in southwest Minnesota and is past president of the Twelfth District Bar Association. He is also past president of Benson Kiwanis club and volunteers his time as a local advisory board member with the Robert Sonsteng Foundation, an affiliated fund of SWIF.
“We are thrilled to have Erica and Ben join this incredible group of leaders,” said Diana Anderson, SWIF President and CEO. “We bring together people with diverse backgrounds and expertise from across our region to ensure our board reflects and represents all of southwest Minnesota. We have a strong, committed and thoughtful board of directors pushing Southwest Initiative Foundation’s mission forward, and I’m excited for the knowledge, connections and values our new board members will bring to our organization and collaborative work.”
The Southwest Initiative Foundation 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.
Volkir and Wilcox come on to the board following the retirements of Mark Titus of Jackson, who served 6 years, and Janice Nelson of Montevideo, who served 12 years. The rest of the board includes chair Patricia Dols, Willmar; vice chair Christie Hantge, Hutchinson; past chair Randy Reinke, Litchfield; secretary Terry Gaalswyk, Worthington; treasurer Dan Greve, Worthington; Tom Brakke, Deephaven; Abdirizak Mahboub, Willmar; Teresa Peterson, Upper Sioux Community; Kathy Wehking, Hector; and Theresa Zaske, Balaton.
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 $88 million through its grantmaking and business finance programs.