We have a governing board of 12 volunteers who care deeply about southwest Minnesota. They represent a variety of communities, industries and backgrounds.
Board Member | Deephaven, MN
Principal: tjb research
Consultant, writer, and investment advisor Tom Brakke was raised in Luverne and remains dedicated to the vitality of his hometown and the region. Tom is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and holds a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Minnesota. He is a member of CFA Institute and CFA Society of Minnesota. In 2003, he launched his own consulting firm — tjb research — where he specializes in helping investment firms and institutional investors with decision making and organizational strategy. Tom writes about the wide range of "research puzzles" that face all participants in the financial markets and published a book, Letters to a Young Analyst. Prior to that, he spent 15 years with American Express Financial Advisors. Tom was also the professional advisor for the Carlson Funds Enterprise, an MBA program at the Carlson School of Management at his alma mater.
Terry Gaalswyk, PhD
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 | 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. She has also served as Elementary Principal for the communities of Appleton and Milan. Patricia has a longstanding commitment to rural communities and education. She is active with SWIF’s Willmar Early Childhood Initiative and the Willmar area Children's Cabinet. She also serves as co-chair for Empower “Women United in Philanthropy,” which focuses on early childhood education with a mobile preschool. In 2001, Patricia was named a Business and Professional Women – Woman of the Year. She is a co-founder of the area lakes Studio Hop art event and past coordinator of Wonder Camp, a math and science camp for girls. She has provided leadership in various music, literacy, art and environmental initiatives for the region.
Board Member | Marshall, MN
President/CEO: Avera Health
Mary Maertens is the regional President/CEO of Avera Health in Marshall and Tyler and a voting board member of both Avera Marshall and Avera Tyler. Mary provided leadership during the sale of the medical center in 2008, re-positioning the organization as an integrated system. Mary has extensive leadership and healthcare experience in rural Minnesota. She has recruited 58 physicians and mid-level practitioners to the community. She also redesigned the foundation structure to improve Avera Health’s philanthropic activities in the Marshall area. Mary serves on the Minnesota Hospital Association Board of Directors as the Chair Elect and Minnesota Hospital Association Executive Committee. Mary is active with other community organizations including United Way and her church, and is past board chair of the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce
Board Member | Willmar, MN
Owner: West Central Interpreting Services
An engineer by profession, Zack has a passion for helping families and youth build safe, successful neighborhoods and lives. He is a Bush Foundation Fellow and holds a master’s in public policy and economic development from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, as well as a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston.
Zack founded West Central Interpreting Services in Willmar, and he and his wife, Sahra Gure, are leading the transformation of the town’s former Erickson Furniture building into Midtown Plaza — home to retail shops, office space and amenities such as a senior activity center, beauty salon and tea and coffee shop. Mahboub also serves on the Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission.
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 on real estate, estate planning, elder law and probate, as well as serving as the Montevideo city attorney. She is a past president of the real property council of the Minnesota State Bar Association and a member of the Title Standards Committee. Janice 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
Consultant: Cultivating Indigenous education and strengthening community
Teresa Peterson, Utuhu Cistinna Win, provides consultant services with a focus on cultivating Indigenous education and strengthening community. She also teaches in the Indigenous Nations and Dakota Studies at Southwest Minnesota State University. She has served as Tribal Planner for the Upper Sioux Community and 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 a 2016 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 Program. She received the 2017 UMM Distinguished Alumni Award.
Vice Chair | 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 family business in 1979. In addition to his leadership at Custom Products, Randy serves on the board of directors of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association, Trifac Workers’ Compensation Fund, Aggregate Security Insurance Group and committees of Grow Minnesota! and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Randy previously served as a charter board member of the Litchfield Area Community Foundation, one of SWIF’s 26 community foundation affiliates. He is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.
Christie Rock Hantge
Treasurer | 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, economic development association director for the City of Hutchinson and executive director of the Longfellow Community Council, a nonprofit neighborhood organization in Minneapolis. Her board and volunteer service includes past president of the Economic Development Association of Minnesota, Hutchinson Planning Commission, co-head 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.
Past Chair | Spicer, MN
President: Thurston Genetics
Robert L. Thurston of Spicer has worked in agriculture -- specifically the seed corn industry -- his entire adult life. He founded Thurston Inc. in 1980 and Thurston Genetics in 1994, both recognized as leading corn brokerage production services and genetic licensing nationally and internationally. Rob holds leadership positions in other organizations including Ridgewater College Advisory Council, Torgerson Properties Inc., Postsecondary Agriculture Students Organization, American Seed Trade Association, Independent Professional Seedsman Association, Minnesota Corn Growers Association and other state and national agriculture organizations and committees.
Mark Titus, DVM
Secretary | 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 lifelong 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.
Board Member | Hector, MN
Retired Educator: Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart School District
Kathy and her husband, Rich, own and operate a crop farm in rural Hector and are dedicated to the community where they’ve made their home for nearly 50 years. A retired teacher, Kathy taught elementary students at BLHS for 18 years. She also served as the Early Childhood Family Education Coordinator and a mentor teacher and co-center director at Tri-Valley Migrant Head Start in Bird Island. Wehking holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Gustavus Adolphus College and a master’s in education from St. Mary’s University. Kathy's philosophy as an educator was to strengthen her students’ desire to keep learning and to build their ability to be resourceful and inventive long after they left her classroom. She’s been inspired by SWIF’s Grow Our Own initiative to close the opportunity gap that aligns so closely with her personal commitment to kids’ futures.
Former Board Members
J. Terry Anderson
Connie Burchill *
Elroy Burgeson *
Connie J. Crowell
Wayne Freese, DVM
Dr. Phil Maus
Connie VanDerBill Medin
Gerald Michaelson *
Mary Page *
Dr. Mary Retterer
H. Cris Remucal, MD
Elwood Throndrud *
Timothy B. Ulrich
Hugh Wegner *