Minnesota's regional development foundations have emerged as a small but significant for economic growth in rural areas. Former First district congressman Tim Penny has been named president of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.
Although Penny may be too conservative for some, he is generally respected by southern Minnesotans of all political stripes for his abilities as a listener and for his civility.
Press release from the SMIF below the fold.
he board of trustees at Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) has named Timothy (Tim) Penny as its next president. Penny becomes the third president since 1986, when SMIF was established by the Minneapolis-based The McKnight Foundation to foster growth and vitality in southern Minnesota communities. Penny was selected from a national pool of candidates after a year-long review process by a search committee that included current and former board members. He will begin serving as president in April.
“As we recently celebrated 20 years as a foundation, we are thrilled to plan for our future with Tim Penny as our new president,” said SMIF board chair Dan Bonneur. “Tim is a leader and visionary in Minnesota and the nation, and his depth and breadth of experience makes him a tremendous asset to the foundation’s future.”
Penny represented Minnesota ’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1982-1994. Previously, he was a member of the Minnesota State Senate from 1976-82. Most recently, Penny was a Senior Counselor at Himle Horner, a Twin Cities-based public relations and public affairs firm, and co-chair of the Humphrey Institute Forum at the University of Minnesota .
“I have a great deal of respect for the foundation’s history and its profound impact on our communities and local economy,” said Penny. “Over two decades, the foundation has become a major change-agent in the region. I’m proud and excited to work alongside our community leaders to foster creative approaches that will leverage resources in areas where we can have the greatest impact for our citizens.”
Penny’s extensive background complements many of SMIF’s key interests, including the areas of workforce development, early childhood development, and economic development with a focus on bio-ag and bio-medical. Penny sees these areas as having the biggest growth potential for the region and the greatest impact on the future economy in southern Minnesota .
Penny believes SMIF can serve as both a catalyst for collaboration and a facilitator for leveraging resources in three key areas:
Improve workforce development. This includes a focus on tomorrow’s workforce, including early childhood development, active aging and an increasing new immigrant population, as well as future initiatives to examine the transition from high school to workforce.
Promote bio-business. Advancements in bio-ag and bio-medical present high-potential business opportunities in the 20-county region, if business assistance and development activities can be aligned toward a common good.
Build community vitality. This includes all SMIF’s efforts in building on the social and economic assets of our citizens and organizations.
“This collaborative approach to community development creates stronger connections among our businesses, leaders and citizens, and provides greater access to the valuable amenities in our region,” said Penny. “Healthy, thriving communities rely on sustainable systems, innovative uses of human and natural resources, and a strong, steady workforce.”
“We value Tim’s commitment to building vibrant communities and increasing prosperity by supporting businesses and jobs. We look forward to his leadership as we work to shape policies and practices that will continue to strengthen our region,” said Bonneur.
Penny takes over the office from Carol Cerney, the board-appointed interim executive director. Cerney has been a leading staff member at SMIF for 11 years, most recently serving as vice president, and she will remain a lead staff member of the foundation.
"Under Carol’s leadership, the foundation has continued to build an effective, dynamic and committed team who are making a huge difference in this region and our state”, says Bonneur. "Since last June, Carol has managed all foundation operations; led the creation of a five-year strategic plan and the celebration of the foundation’s 20th anniversary; managed the $7.2 million funding request to The McKnight Foundation; and guided staff during a year that saw a recommitment to SMIF vision for vitality and prosperity for this region. We simply could not have accomplished so much without her leadership."
"I am grateful for the opportunity I've had to lead this organization during this dynamic time in our history," says Cerney. "To work with such an outstanding staff and board, along with our hundreds of partners, has been an exceptional and valued experience. I am incredibly proud of this foundation and our exceptional staff."
Past SMIF presidents include Trixie Ann Golberg (1993–2006) and Linda Jacobson (1986-1993).
Background on Tim Penny
As a member of the Minnesota Senate, Penny served as vice-chair of the Transportation and Finance committees. Among other issues, Penny’s areas of emphasis included student financial aid, rural and rail transportation and regulatory reform. While in Congress, Penny served on the Education and Labor, Agriculture and Veterans’ Affairs committees. He chaired the Subcommittee on Veterans’ Education and Training and the Foreign Agriculture and Hunger Subcommittee.
Throughout his congressional career, Penny placed an emphasis on budget issues. He chaired the Democratic Budget Group as well as the Porkbusters Coalition. His deficit reduction efforts were recognized by such organizations as the Business Roundtable, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the National Taxpayers union and Citizens Against Government Waste.
Penny has co-authored three books: Common Cents; The 15 Biggest Lies in Politics; and Payment Due. Born and raised in southeastern Minnesota , Penny received his B.A. in political science from Winona State University . Penny has four adult children and resides in Waseca.
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
SMIF, a donor-supported foundation, has provided over $34 million in grants and loans within the region during the past 21 years. In addition, SMIF has leveraged well over $100 million to support local business and community development. SMIF was established by The McKnight Foundation in 1986 to foster growth and vitality in greater Minnesota . To learn more about our work and mission call 507-455-3215 or visit www.smifoundation.org.