Letter from the Trustees and Co-CEOs

The Otto Bremer Trust: Investing in People, Places and Opportunities in the Upper Midwest. 

Words on a page mean nothing unless they convey an ultimate truth: when combined in a compelling way they can be a tool for innovative and powerful action. Our name and new mission statement contain such words. Our name acknowledges the man whose vision has been the driving force for significant community investments for more than 70 years. The word Trust speaks to the obligation of the Trustees to fulfill Otto Bremer’s aspirations for the region. In our mission statement, the word Investing captures the essence of the core work of the Otto Bremer Trust.

The structure of the Trust is complex, yet simple. We are charged with the oversight of banking, investment and philanthropic activities that have paved the way for significant and enduring community commitments over the years. The Trust’s primary holding, Bremer Bank, with assets now greater than $10 billion, is a model of sound banking practices and outstanding commitment to stakeholders. Our investment portfolio and its careful management generate additional resources that support our strategic goals.

This new mission statement is one manifestation of several changes we put in motion following our 70th anniversary in 2014. Organizationally, we realigned our philanthropic leadership into seven regions spanning Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin, with a dedicated staff member to serve as each region’s point person. We have also increased our program-related investments, identifying community needs that we believe can significantly benefit from innovative financing.

This evolution of purpose drove the need to update and expand our mission statement. Investing in People, Places and Opportunities in the Upper Midwest recognizes not only the individuals and communities of the region where we have operated but also the increasingly diverse needs of dynamic organizations throughout the region which present unique and compelling opportunities for the Trust’s investment. Our response is to build upon and expand our knowledge of the issues and challenges facing these communities and help make a measureable and meaningful impact for positive change.

Our expectations for these community investments are similar to those of our financial investments—long-term positive returns will be measurable indications of community growth and individuals moving forward. With prudent management of all our investments, both financial and philanthropic, we can expect to continue to grow our assets for even greater philanthropic distributions in the future. This is what Otto Bremer envisioned.


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