We have a governing board of 12 volunteers who care deeply about southwest Minnesota. They represent a variety of communities, industries and backgrounds.
Our board meets six times each year and hosts each meeting in a different community to learn from and connect with local partners.
Secretary | Luverne, MN
Retired: Judge-Fifth Judicial District, Rock County
Tim Connell is a retired judge of the Fifth Judicial District, Rock County, Luverne, Minn. He was appointed by former Gov. Rudy Perpich on June 30, 1987. Connell is a high school graduate of Luverne High School, has a B.A. in Humanities from St. John’s University and received his Juris Doctor Degree from William Mitchell College of Law in 1976. Connell was in private practice for 11 years before being appointed judge. He is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association. Connell is very active in the Luverne community, serving as chair of the Rock County Children’s Justice Initiative and Rock County Collaborative 6-12 Work Team. He is also active in various civic groups including his church, Rotary Club, Rock County Community Education Board and many others. Connell resides in Luverne with his wife, Connie. They have three adult children.
Board Member | Worthington, MN
President: Minnesota West Community and Technical College
Terry Gaalswyk, Worthington, is president of Minnesota West Community and Technical College, with campuses in Canby, Granite Falls, Jackson, Pipestone and Worthington and centers in Luverne, Marshall and Redwood Falls. Dr. Gaalswyk has over 20 years of service in higher education including appointments as a mathematics instructor, division chair, associate dean of instruction, dean of instruction and executive vice president. He has served at Southeast Technical Institute, South Dakota State University, Western Iowa Tech Community College, Iowa State University and most recently at Western Nebraska Community College. He is equally proud of his vocational background, having worked alongside his parents building custom countertops and cabinets in a family-owned business in Sibley, Iowa.
Board Member | Hutchinson, MN
Consultant for Community and Economic Development in southwest Minnesota and in Minneapolis
Christie provides community and economic development consulting services to small cities and Minneapolis neighborhood organizations. Her previous work experience includes serving as economic development coordinator for the City of Norwood Young America and the St. Cloud Area Economic Development Partnership, EDA director for the City of Hutchinson, and executive director of the Longfellow Community Council, a nonprofit neighborhood organization in Minneapolis. Current board and volunteer service includes the incoming president of the Economic Development Association of Minnesota, chair of the Hutchinson Planning Commission, assistant coach of the Hutchinson Girls Track and Field Team, Children’s Grief Connection, and Historic Hutchinson. Christie also served three terms on Southwest Initiative Foundation’s Loan Advisory Committee.
Board Member | Willmar, MN
Retired: Elementary Principal
Patricia Loehr-Dols makes her home in Willmar and is a retired elementary school principal. Most recently, Patricia served as principal at Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar where she was responsible for 900 diverse students and 100 staff.Patricia has a long-standing commitment to rural communities and education. She is a member of the Minnesota Elementary Principal’s Association and Association of Supervision & Curriculum Development. She is active with the SWIF’s Willmar Early Childhood Initiative. She also serves as co-chair for Empower “Women United in Philanthropy” and president for the Willmar Public School Foundation.In 2001, Patricia was named a Business and Professional Women – Women of the Year. She is a co-founder of the area lakes Studio Hop art event and coordinator of Wonder Camp, a math and science camp for girls. She has also provided leadership in her church.
Treasurer | Benson, MN
President: First Security Bank
Janet Lundebrek is the Benson Branch President of the First Security Bank of Sleepy Eye. She has worked extensively in the field of agriculture at a county, state and national level. She was a founding member of the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Plant Board and has been an executive officer of the company since. Jan has served on many civic boards including the Salvation Army, Benson Hospital Foundation and Benson Area Community Foundation. Jan has been active in the Renewable Fuels Association, ACE and Farmers Union. She also served on the MNREM leadership board that sponsored the WIRED Energy Grants. In addition, she served as past president of the Benson Area Chamber of Commerce and as community development chair for several years. Jan has a long history with Southwest Initiative Foundation, including participating in the Project LEAD women’s program and volunteering on the loan advisory committee.
Board Member | Marshall, MN
President/CEO: Avera Health
Mary Maertens is the regional president/CEO of Avera Health in Marshall and a voting board member of Avera Marshall. Mary provided leadership during the sale of the medical center in 2008, repositioning the organization as an integ rated system.Mary has extensive leadership and healthcare experience in rural Minnesota. She has recruited 30 physicians and mid-level practitioners to the community. She also redesigned the foundation structure to improve Avera Health’s philanthropic a ctivities in the Marshall area.Mary serves on the Minnesota Hospital Association’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee. She is active with other community organizations including Rotary, United Way and her church and is past board chair of the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce.
Vice Chair | Montevideo, MN
Attorney: Nelson Oyen Torvik, P.L.L.P
Janice Nelson, Montevideo, is an attorney with the firm of Nelson Oyen Torvik, P.L.L.P. in Montevideo where she concentrates in real estate, estate planning, elder law and probate, as well as serving as the Montevideo city attorney. She is the secretary of the real property council for the Minnesota State Bar Association and will progress to the position of president. Nelson graduated from Augsburg College, Minneapolis, worked in banking and later graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School. She returned to practice law in her hometown of Montevideo.
Board Member | Upper Sioux Community, MN
Tribal Planner, Upper Sioux Community
Teresa Peterson, Utuhu Cistinna Win, serves as the Tribal Planner for the Upper Sioux Indian Community near Granite Falls, Minnesota and adjunct faculty in the Indigenous Nations and Dakota Studies for Southwest Minnesota State University. Prior, she worked as the Tribal Planner for the Lower Sioux Indian Community. She is a founder of Dakota Wicohan, a Native nonprofit whose work is in Dakota language and life ways revitalization. She earned her doctorate in Education from the U of M Duluth, a M.S. in Educational Leadership from Southwest Minnesota State University and B.A. in Human Services from the U of M Morris. Teresa is a 2011 Bush Leadership Fellow and was recently selected as a Native Nation Rebuilder through the Native Governance Center. She is an alumnus and board member of both the Americans for Indian Opportunity Ambassador and Blandin Indian Reservation Leadership
Board Member | Litchfield, MN
President/CEO: Custom Products of Litchfield
Randy Reinke is President/CEO of Custom Products of Litchfield, a sheet metal and tubing fabricator specializing in the design, testing and manufacture of cab enclosures and rollover protection for off-highway vehicles. Randy joined the company in 1979. In addition to his leadership at Custom Products, Randy serves on multiple state and local boards and committees. Current positions include Grow Minnesota!, Workers Compensation Research Institute, Litchfield School Board – School Improvement Advisory Council, Trifac Workers’ Compensation Fund, Aggregate Security Insurance Group – A Risk Retention Group, and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Randy is also active with the Litchfield Area Community Foundation, one of SWIF’s 24 community foundation affiliates.
Past Chair | Bird Island, MN
Senior Partner: Saunders Mertens Schmitz, P.A., Certified Public Accountants
Rob Saunders, Bird Island, is senior partner at Saunders Mertens Schmitz, P.A., Certified Public Accountants and owner of Island Financial Planning, Inc., in Bird Island. He is a member of the Minnesota State Board of Accountancy and the Minnesota Financial Planning Association, past president of the Minnesota Association of Public Accountants, past chairman of the Bird Island Economic Development Authority and treasurer of the BOLD Foundation. Saunders attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, was a TopGun graduate and served as a U.S. Naval Flight Officer.
Chair | Olivia, MN
President: Thurston Genetics
Robert L. Thurston, Spicer, is currently the president of Olivia-based Thurston Genetics, a national and international corn genetics licensing company. He has worked in agriculture—and speciﬁ cally the seed corn industry—his entire adult life, and founded Thurston, Inc. in 1980 and Thurston Genetics in 1994. Thurston holds leadership positions in other organizations including the Ridgewater Foundation, Corn Capital Trust in Olivia, American Bank of Olivia and Renville, Minnesota Postsecondary Agricultural Students Organization, Minnesota Renewable Energy Marketplace – Alliance for Talent Development, American Seed Trade Assn., Independent Professional Seedsman and other state and national agricultural organizations and committees.
Board Member | Jackson, MN
Mark Titus is a veterinarian living in Jackson. He is currently employed by Newport Laboratories in Worthington as Senior Manager, Regulatory Affairs and Technical Support. Prior to his career in the animal health industry, he worked as a practicing veterinarian in Jackson. Mark received his undergraduate college education at Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa, and his DVM and MS degrees from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn. He is a past director of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association and past president of the Association of Veterinary Biologics Companies. Mark is a life-long resident of southwest Minnesota and has served his community as a member and officer of the Jackson and Jackson County Central (JCC) school boards, JCC Education Foundation and Jackson Community Foundation.
Former Board Members
J. Terry Anderson
Connie Burchill *
Elroy Burgeson *
Connie J. Crowell
Wayne Freese, D.V.M.
Dr. Phil Maus
Connie VanDerBill Medin
Gerald Michaelson *
Mary Page *
Dr. Mary Retterer
H. Cris Remucal, M.D.
Elwood Throndrud *
Timothy B. Ulrich
Hugh Wegner *