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Initiative Quarterly

Granite Partners’ Carrie Willis Joins Foundation’s Board of Trustees

March 22, 2023

New board member brings background in finance, governing, consulting and operations

LITTLE FALLS, MN—Matt Varilek, president of the Initiative Foundation, announced today that Carrie Willis, chief operating officer of Granite Partners in St. Cloud, has been appointed to the Foundation's Board of Trustees. 

“We welcome Carrie Willis to our distinguished Board of Trustees,” Varilek said. “Granite Partners has a long history of supporting the Initiative Foundation, and Rick Bauerly, Granite’s founder and CEO, helped establish the Initiators Fellowship program. We are thrilled to welcome Carrie to the board and to continue that strong partnership. She will be a great fit and complement the other leaders and decision-makers from across Central Minnesota who guide our work." 

Willis grew up in Genola, Minn., a community of about 70 people in Morrison County. She is the daughter of Jo and Larry Korf. Larry is a former Initiative Foundation board chair and longtime trustee. Willis and her husband, Bobby, make their home near Genola with their two children. 

“Carrie knows Central Minnesota, and we are so fortunate to have her on our board," Varilek said. “Having been raised in this area, she understands the ins and outs of making our rural areas thrive. Her expertise in entrepreneurship will help us immensely as we continue to build and expand the Initiators Fellowship program, along with or other efforts supporting small businesses.” 

Willis looks forward to using her financial experience and background in governing, consulting, and operations to contribute to the Foundation’s board. 

"I plan to use my time and talent to continue the Foundation's catalytic work to drive economic development and opportunities in our beloved communities,” Willis said. “The greatest investment we can make is in the people of Central Minnesota to ensure our prosperity, now and into the future." 

Willis returned to the region about seven years ago and loves the people and natural beauty of the region. 

“Central Minnesota is an exceptional place to raise a family and contribute to the area’s economic growth and vitality,” she said. 

In her free time, Willis enjoys being outdoors with her family— hiking, snowshoeing, hunting, and beekeeping. She and her husband enjoy cheering for their children as Pierz Pioneers, traveling to adventurous destinations, supporting independent film, spending time up north with family and supporting their local church and community. 

Willis began her three-year term on Jan. 1 and is eligible to serve up to three terms. She joins 14 other regional leaders who help shape, guide, and inform the Initiative Foundation in its regional mission to empower people throughout Central Minnesota to build a thriving economy, vibrant communities and a lasting culture of generosity.

 Carrie Willis: Web-ready photo | High-resolution photo

About the Initiative Foundation
The Initiative Foundation serves the 14 counties and two sovereign tribal nations of Central Minnesota: Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena and Wright counties and the nations of the Leech Lake and Mille Lacs Bands of Ojibwe. Based in Little Falls, the Foundation exists to improve the quality of life and to build stronger communities in Central Minnesota by offering business loans, nonprofit grants, leadership training and donor services through its Partner Funds programs. Since 1986, the Initiative Foundation and its Partner Funds have invested multiple millions in the region through targeted grants and business financing investments. Learn more at ifound.org.

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