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News Release: Blandin Foundation names four new trustees

Blake, Charwood, Marinucci and Scrivner to help the Foundation improve rural Minnesota outcomes  in three priority areas 

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (February 13, 2023) – Four northern Minnesotans have been selected to join the Blandin Foundation’s board of trustees starting in January 2023. Their personal knowledge of rural communities and their professional expertise will move the Foundation toward its vision of rural Minnesota places that welcome diversity, address injustice and embrace change to create a sustainable and equitable future. 

“Part of Mr. Blandin’s guidance to trustees was to try new things, to adapt to current community contexts and needs,” said Alice Moren, chair of Blandin Foundation’s board. “Working to change decades of unequal funding structures and policies is a core part of today’s context, and a crucial need for all types of people who choose to work and live in rural Minnesota.” 

The Foundation’s three priority areas advance work toward equitable rural futures.  

  • Community Wealth-Building – building the rural bases of knowledge, money, workforce, entrepreneurship and investment and keeping those powerful resources close to home.   
  • Rural Placemaking – bolstering the arts, culture, natural resources, creativity and opportunities to come together that help us feel connected, invested and proud of where we live.   
  • Small communities – funding work, skills, and needed system changes in rural Minnesota’s smallest communities.   

The incoming trustees bring valuable skills and experience to these priorities and will provide strategic leadership, governance and financial oversight for the Foundation.  

Sholom Blake, CPA – Sholom, of Grand Rapids, brings a deep understanding of the Grand Rapids area’s economic development ecosystem.  His expertise in financial operations and health care will help inform Foundation approaches to community wealth-building. Blake is a principal and partner with the accounting firm of Blake & Lind CPAs, PLLC, in Grand Rapids. He previously served as finance director at Grand Rapids Clinic and chief financial officer of North Itasca Health Care Center in Bigfork, Minn. He has served on the Grand Rapids Economic Development Authority for more than 15 years, as well as on two committees to identify and address long-range space needs for ISD 318 that resulted in plans for two new elementary schools. In addition, he was active for more than a decade in youth sports, serving on boards and coaching youth hockey. Blake is a graduate of Grand Rapids Senior High School, attended Itasca Community College and earned a Bachelor of Science in business from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. 

Ashley Charwood, LGSW, MSW Ashley brings extensive expertise in social and human services, the nonprofit sector and in rural Minnesota’s philanthropy systems, which receive only about 5 percent of the state’s share of philanthropic giving. Her work to create welcoming learning and community spaces that flatten social hierarchies will help connect community voices and strengthen the Foundation’s work in rural placemaking. Charwood is an assistant professor of social work at Bemidji State University, has served as a regional coordinator in northern Minnesota for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, and has worked with a wide range of human service organizations in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and the Dakotas. She has served on the Bi-County CAP board and is part of Project for Change, a grassroots group working toward racial justice in the Bemidji area. Charwood holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Bemidji State University, a master’s in social work from the University of North Dakota and is currently pursuing a doctorate in social work from Tulane University. She lives in Bemidji, Minn.  

Julie Marinucci  – A resident of Hibbing, Minn., Julie’s understanding of Minnesota’s Iron Range communities and mining industry will help expand the Foundation’s understanding of community wealth building through energy transition.  As the current St. Louis County Lands and Minerals Director, she manages more than 900,000 acres of public land used by mining and timber companies, recreation communities and local governments for the benefit of the people in our region, our schools and the community as a whole. Prior to that role, Marinucci held various management positions with Cleveland Cliffs and other mine-related companies where she developed future mining plans and focused on the industry’s role in the region’s green economy. She has worked to bring diverse voices into the sector, mentoring women and young professionals in the region. Marinucci serves as the governor’s appointee to the Iron Range Higher Education District and volunteers in STEM education activities and community leadership opportunities. She holds a Bachelor of Science in mine engineering from Michigan Technological University and has completed training in organizational and community leadership, and production system quality improvement.   

Kayla Scrivner – Kayla provides broad knowledge of public health and rural health care systems that will be valuable as the Foundation digs deeper into understanding and serving small communities. She is chief operating officer at Scenic Rivers Health Services, a rural health care system, serving seven rural northern Minnesota communities with medical, dental and behavioral health services. Scrivner previously worked for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department in Washington state, overseeing community engagement and public health initiatives, multi-agency work in opioid overdose prevention and was part of the county’s incident command team. Her background includes serving as director of community and volunteer services for AmeriCorps Youth Villages in Georgia and on the board of directors of the Tacoma Farmers Market. She has long advocated for rural areas by speaking up and elevating others’ voices, and supporting local efforts to address early childhood, mental health, anti-racism and LGBTQ+ issues. Scrivner holds a bachelor’s degree from Augsburg College and a Master of Public Administration from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.  

“As the Foundation’s work focuses on its new priority areas, the Board seeks to include insights from parts of the community that can move us in these new directions,” said Moren. “Each of these people carries that momentum. We look forward to learning from them and leading with them to move rural places forward.” 

Blandin Foundation trustees live and work in communities across rural Minnesota and serve up to 12 years.  The new trustees were selected through a search conducted in 2022. They will join 10 current trustees on the board. More information on Blandin Foundation trustees and their roles are available at the Foundation’s web site, 


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