Annual Letter from the Trustees and Co-CEOs

2014—the Otto Bremer Foundation's 70th year—was truly extraordinary. We provided over $42 million in grants and program-related investments to more than 500 strong institutions—a record for OBF and one of the largest private foundation distributions in Minnesota last year. These results were made possible by the work of our talented staff, all of whom are so dedicated to the communities we serve.

Last year we shared with you news of a change in the organizational structure of OBF. We are now delighted to unveil the new staff assignments that will help us respond to the needs and opportunities of Bremer communities of Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin. This structure is the result of a comprehensive review of our resources, the provisions of our trust and the outlook for the future. During this time we have moved carefully and deliberately so that our philanthropic work continued without the abrupt changes in funding output often resulting from such organizational realignments.

As we previously announced, in order to meet the growth in our geography and financial position, our new organizational structure involves a team-leadership approach and regional management. We have also added staff in both program and operations in support of this new structure. With our expanding territory it becomes increasingly important that we fully understand the assets that exist in a region and partner with others to provide resources that enrich Bremer communities.

Effective January 1, 2015, OBF has named three Regional Directors who oversee geographic territories as well as handle program work directly in one of those regions. The following lists the regional structure and the program staff assigned to each region.

Tony LookingElk:
Region 1. Western North Dakota (Diane Benjamin, Senior Program Officer)
Region 2. Red River Valley (Tony LookingElk, Regional Director)
Region 3. Central and Northern Minnesota (Kris Kosek, Program Officer)

Lue Her:
Region 4. Western and South Central Minnesota (Rose Carr, Program Officer)
Region 6. Western Wisconsin (Dominic Papatola, Senior Program Officer)
Region 7. Southeastern Minnesota (Lue Her, Regional Director)

Aretha Green-Rupert:
Region 5. Twin Cities metropolitan area (Aretha Green Rupert, Regional Director and Jenifer Robins, Program Associate)

Kari Suzuki will continue in her role as Director of Operations, leading the capable team that supports the work in all of the regions.

All Directors will report directly to us.

2015 is already off to an active start. We recently welcomed the communities of Austin, Eyota, Houston, Kasson, Rochester, Rollingstone, St. Charles, Stewartville and Winona into our grantmaking efforts. As our territory expands, we utilize a variety of tools to reach out to the communities and develop more knowledge and ongoing relationships. In just the past few years, the new Bremer communities of Mankato, Owatonna, Eau Claire and La Crosse have collectively received several million dollars of support; and our regional managers are in position to continue to add to the knowledge base over time. For OBF as a whole, we are anticipating another year of growth and are organizing our efforts accordingly.

The efforts required to get to this point in our history have been substantial, and we continue to be motivated by our mandate to carry out Otto Bremer's legacy and support his commitment to helping people find opportunities to thrive and participate in their communities.

We are energized by this regional approach to our work. The needs of our communities and the number of organizations that work to provide solutions have increased. This requires that we build upon and expand our knowledge and insight of the organizations in the region and the issues and challenges they face, and become better informed about how we, through local partnerships, can help make a measurable and meaningful impact on Bremer communities. 

Charlotte S. Johnson
S. Brian Lipschultz
Daniel C. Reardon