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
Secretary | 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.
Treasurer | Worthington, MN
Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer, Prairie Holdings Group
Dan Greve grew up in Worthington and has spent much of his career there. He has been a Chief Financial Officer for manufacturing businesses over the past 20 years. He believes in Grow Our Own and as a business executive, sees firsthand the challenges like recruiting talent that our rural communities face. He is currently Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer at Prairie Holdings Group, a family of agricultural companies discovering and using the latest technological developments in the industry. Dan has served on several community boards and committees, including the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corporation and Worthington Area YMCA, where he was vice president and president during fundraising and construction of the new YMCA facility. Dan served on Southwest Initiative Foundation’s loan advisory committee and participated in the career pathways work group connected to the foundation’s grant from Twin Cities United Way. He has also supported the Worthington Area Foundation, one of Southwest Initiative Foundation’s 28 local affiliates.
Chair | Willmar, MN
Retired: Elementary Principal
Patricia 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 | 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.
Board Member | Upper Sioux Community
Teresa Peterson, Utuhu Cistinna Win, works as an independent consultant with a focus on cultivating Indigenous education and strengthening community. Previously, she served as Tribal Planner in her home community and the Lower Sioux Indian Community. She is a co-founder of Dakota Wicohan, a Native nonprofit whose work is in Dakota language and life ways revitalization. She earned her doctorate in education from UMN Duluth, a master's in educational leadership from Southwest Minnesota State University and bachelor's degree in human services from UMN Morris. Teresa is a 2011 Bush Leadership Fellow and a 2016 Native Nation Rebuilder through the Native Governance Center. She serves on the board of directors for Americans for Indian Opportunity and Dakota Wicohan. She received the 2017 UMN Morris Distinguished Alumni Award.
Past 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
Vice Chair | 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.
Board Member | Pipestone, MN
Executive Director: Pipestone Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
Erica is a dedicated business, community and nonprofit advocate and works as the executive director of the Pipestone Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. Originally from Omaha, Neb., Erica 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. Erica believes strongly in Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) vision of a southwest Minnesota where everyone thrives and in supporting our kids to reach their full potential. She’s inspired by the foundation’s leadership around big picture ideas that are essential to the future growth of southwest Minnesota. In addition to being on the SWIF Board of Directors, Erica 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.
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.
Board Member | Benson, MN
Attorney: Wilcox Law Office
Ben Wilcox grew up in Benson and is now an attorney in his hometown where he lives with his wife, Kerry Wilcox, and their children Gwendolyn and Joseph. Ben holds a bachelor’s degree in English from University of Minnesota, Morris. After college, he worked in banking in the Twin Cities before returning to school to study law. He graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in 2009 and has worked with his father at Wilcox Law Office in Benson for more than a decade. Ben appreciates rural communities and the opportunities they provide; he sees SWIF as a leader in supporting rural areas of Minnesota and is passionate about advancing the organization’s mission in southwest Minnesota. Ben 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 both he and Kerry have both volunteered their time as local advisory board members with SWIF affiliate partners, Ben with the Robert Sonsteng Foundation and Kerry with the Benson Area Community Foundation.
Board Member | Balaton, MN
Community Relations Manager: Schwan’s Company
Theresa Zaske is the Community Relations Manager at Schwan’s Company, where she’s served in various roles during her 30-year tenure. In her current role, she advises the Schwan’s Corporate Giving Foundation Board of Directors on governance and provides input on ways to maximinze donations, grants and scholarships in its priority areas. Theresa has long been devoted to supporting local nonprofits. She helped found the Marshall Community Foundation and Balaton Area Community Foundation, two of SWIF’s affiliate partners. Theresa currently serves on the Balaton Area Community Foundation advisory board and previously served with the United Way of Southwest Minnesota, Prairie Home Hospice and Healthy56258. She also helped with the start up of the nonprofit PFLAG Buffalo Ridge/Marshall supporting the mission to build diversity and inclusion in rural southwestern Minnesota.
Born and raised in Southern California, Theresa came to Minnesota to earn her bachelor’s degree in history at Carleton College and decided to stay. She’s made her home here in southwest Minnesota for more than 30 years. She cares about the region and believes SWIF and other organizations like it that are based in southwest Minnesota are vital to bringing attention and funding to local needs.
Former Board Members
J. Terry Anderson
Connie Burchill *
Elroy Burgeson *
Connie J. Crowell
Wayne Freese, DVM
Ronald Johnson *
Dr. Phil Maus
Connie VanDerBill Medin
Gerald Michaelson *
Francis Mortier *
Mary Page *
Dr. Mary Retterer
H. Cris Remucal, MD
Don Stella *
Elwood Throndrud *
Timothy B. Ulrich
Hugh Wegner *