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Champions for our region: former Board members stay engaged by participating in the Emeritus Trustee Group

An avenue for leaders to stay in touch, keep the organizational history alive, and continue giving back to northeastern Minnesota

zoom screen grab of emeritus group members

The Northland Foundation brings together members of the Emeritus Trustee Group and our staff twice each year. Last year’s gatherings were held virtually.


Our Board Trustees, past and present, have provided the influence and guidance to see the Northland Foundation through important turning points. Coming from all corners of the region, they bring welcome differences: wide-ranging perspectives, experiences, and representation. What they share in common is a deep belief in the mission and an action-oriented passion for making our region better for everyone who lives here.

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Steve Downing

“There’s a culture of community that’s always bonded the Northland Foundation’s Board of Trustees,” explained Steve Downing, former Board Chair (served 2009-2019, Chair 2016-2018) and Emeritus Trustee Group member.

Board alumni are thought leaders. Their wisdom, points of view, and contributions to the Northland Foundation story are invaluable. Why say good-bye to these allies just because their board terms have ended?

A new opportunity to stay connected

In 2012, following the foundation’s 25th anniversary, we decided to try out a new-to-Northland concept to help rekindle and retain relationships with former board members. It began with a small number of past trustees invited to a lunch meeting to listen, give feedback, and consider the notion of piloting an Emeritus Trustee Group. The foundation, and this group of leaders, has not looked back.

Almost a decade later, the Emeritus Trustee Group has grown to two dozen members whose time on the board spans all of Northland’s 35 (and counting) years in operation. These are individuals who do not sit back in quiet contemplation. They pay close attention, ask thought-provoking questions, and offer fresh insights. 

“I may be biased, but I think our board is incredible,” said Northland President, Tony Sertich, “so it only follows that the Emeritus Trustee Group members are amazing. They support our work but also keep me on my toes – something I really appreciate.”

Meeting, listening, giving

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Lynn Goerdt

Emeritus group members are invited to attend the annual dinner alongside current trustees and staff members. Each spring, they gather with Tony and other staff to catch up with one another, hear updates on foundation initiatives, and share what they are seeing in their communities. The gatherings are listening/learning sessions for everyone involved.

“I always appreciate hearing about what is going on in other parts of our region and the different perspectives people bring to the table.” —Lynn Goerdt

“I definitely feel that this keeps me connected to the work of the Northland Foundation, which I appreciate and admire, as well as with the trustees. One of the things I immediately missed when I stopped serving as a trustee, was the regional perspective that I would gain every time we would meet,” stated Lynn Goerdt (served 2009-2018) of her decision to join the group.

Empowering young philanthropists and volunteers

Members of this special group also commit time and treasure to help support Northland’s programming. Three years ago, a founding member of the group, Scott Martin, and his wife, Holly, (Scott served 1993-1999)—who are passionate about youth programs and developing young leaders—put a new spin on the past-to-future connection.

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Holly and Scott Martin

The Martins, through their family foundation, made an annual gift commitment to the KIDS PLUS Youth In Philanthropy Program and challenged other members of the Emeritus Trustee Group to match their gift 1:1 over each of three years. It is a brilliant notion: experienced philanthropists supporting local students to learn about grantmaking, leadership, and volunteerism! Fellow emeriti came through generously, not only meeting but surpassing the match dollars. This summer, the Martins renewed their challenge-match gift for three more years.

Keep on keeping on

The Emeritus Trustee Group is here to stay, maintaining the link between outgoing board members and the foundation, holding the organizational history, and helping build the capacity of future leaders in our region.

“The Emeritus Trustee Group keeps us keeping on – together,” concluded Steve Downing.


Emeritus Trustee Group Members

As of August 2021, the following individuals make up the Emeritus Trustee Group. This roster will grow as Northland Foundation Trustees complete their board service and may elect to join. We thank them for their ongoing friendship and support.

Phil Anderson, Lisa Bodine, Dave Clusiau, Jeff Corey, Eddie Crawford, Steve Downing, Lynn Goerdt, Bill Hansen, Cindy Hansen, Edwina Hertzberg, Mary Ives, Ken Johnson, Lisa Kruse, Nevada Littlewolf, Scott Martin, Antoinette Monster, Nancy Norr, Mark Phillips, Allen Rasmussen, Diane Rauschenfels, Tom Renier - President Emeritus, Tom Rider, Joe Sertich, Chuck Walt, and Ed Zabinski