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Nicklason is Blandin Foundation board chair

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – Northern Minnesota native and community banker Brian Nicklason took the helm of Grand Rapids-based Blandin Foundation’s board of directors, effective with the new year. 

Blandin Foundation is Minnesota’s largest rural-based foundation and one of only a handful of private foundations in the country focused exclusively on rural communities.  The Foundation works to strengthen rural Minnesota communities, especially the Grand Rapids area. 

Nicklason is CEO and president of Woodland Bank, with offices serving the northern Minnesota communities of Deer River, Cohasset, Hill City, and Grand Rapids. He is the third-generation owner of the bank.

He began his banking career as a consumer loan officer in 1983 and in 1985 joined the U.S. Treasury Department as a national bank examiner in the Office of the Comptroller until 1991 when he joined Woodland Bank. In 2000, he was named “a rising star in banking” by Northwestern Financial Review.

Nicklason graduated from St. Cloud State University in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance, having graduated from Remer’s Northland High School in 1978 as a member of the National Honor Society.  He also is an alumnus of the Blandin Community Leadership Program.

Nicklason has served on the Blandin Foundation board since 2007, and served as board secretary in 2011. He has been a member of the nominating and finance advisory committees. He served as vice-chair of the investment committee from 2008-2011 and as chair from 2012-2015. As board chair, he chairs the executive committee, and is an ex-officio member of the audit and finance and investment committee. He succeeds Dr. Mike Johnson, former provost of Itasca Community College. Nicklason will serve a three-year term.

“Strong, vibrant rural Minnesota communities were a passion of Charles Blandin’s when he founded this foundation 75 years ago,” said Nicklason.  “I am honored to play this role on behalf of the Foundation’s very committed, capable and diverse trustees and on behalf of Charles Blandin.”

Professionally, Nicklason currently is a board member of United Bankers Bank in Bloomington Minnesota.  He has served on the board and was chairman of the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota. He also served on the Itasca Economic Development Corporation/Jobs2020 advisory board and formerly served on the boards of Deer River Hospital, Remer Chamber of Commerce, Cass County Economic Development, Myles Reif Performing Arts Center and Itasca Community College Foundation.

“Brian represents a deep loyalty to the entire Itasca area and knows the opportunities and challenges ahead,” said Blandin Foundation CEO Dr. Kathleen Annette. “He is a respected community leader who will bring his expertise to a board that is dedicated to the mission of the foundation.”



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Brian Nicklason began a three-year term as chair of the Blandin Foundation board of trustees. He has served as a Foundation trustee since 2007, and will lead a 13-member board responsible for the organization’s strategic planning, grant approval and governance.


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