Director of Grants
Sonja leads Blandin Foundation’s work to fund Minnesota organizations, which seek to grow healthy and vibrant rural communities, and its Education Awards scholarship program, available to graduates of Itasca area high schools.
Merrild’s work in rural community development and grant-making has included work for the WellPoint Foundation in Indianapolis, Ind., the Marna M. Kuehne and Homer A. & Mildred S. Scott Foundations in Sheridan, Wyo., Tailwinds, LLC nonprofit consulting in Sheridan, Wyo., as well as assessment planning and research in Grand Rapids, Minn., with the Blandin Foundation. Her rural nonprofit leadership experience includes a mix of board leadership and development, fundraising, and strategic planning for several Wyoming-based organizations, including the Center for a Vital Community at Northern Wyoming Community College, CASA, the Y, Habitat for Humanity, Rotary International (as youth counselor), the American Cancer Society, the Sheridan Senior Center, the Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, and the Wyo Theatre.
Prior to her work in the nonprofit field, she co-owned and managed a Sheridan-based national real estate franchise, directed the marketing and business development team for a Midwestern architectural and engineering firm, and managed the office of a Nevada-based professional leadership training organization.
Merrild holds the Master of Arts in Philanthropic Studies degree from Indiana University and Bachelor of Arts degrees in business administration from the Niels Brock School of International Business in Copenhagen, Denmark and in leadership studies from Bellevue University in Omaha, Neb.