Letter from the Trustees and Co-CEOs

As we were celebrating our 70th anniversary last year we believed the time was right to review our organization's past, assess our current activities and priorities, and ascertain that we were well positioned for the future. 

Our unique structure as a trust charged with the oversight of both banking and philanthropic activities is a result of the vision of our founder, Otto Bremer. Creating a trust to preserve his legacy paved the way for the significant community investments that have been made over the years. The Trust’s primary investment, Bremer Bank, with assets now greater than $10 billion, is a model of sound banking practices and outstanding commitment to stakeholders.

The success of our bank and non-bank investments has provided substantial resources to reinvest in our communities. By building from a modest amount of capital in 1944, the Trust has been able to provide over a half billion dollars in grants and program-related investments, all while growing our assets to position the Trust for ever greater philanthropic distributions in the future. This is what Otto envisioned.

We will continue our commitment to strategically responsive philanthropy that has defined our work for decades. It is important to listen to the needs of communities across the Bremer region and provide financial and non-financial support to nonprofit organizations doing vital work every day. Last year’s regional restructuring is an integral part of this strategy and will better inform our work going forward.

We consider ourselves to be a dynamic organization that must continually embrace ways to evolve to best achieve our mission. While responsive philanthropy represents the majority of our activity, we have also purposefully increased our commitment in awarding strategic grants, program-related investments and support for economic development organizations that reach underserved communities.

In taking the name Otto Bremer Trust, we seek to tie all of these components together in an integrated model that helps accomplish great things for communities throughout Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. By doing so, we continue to honor the legacy of a man who had great aspirations for the region.


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