Building a Strong Foundation for the Future of Our Region
Winter 2015

Tony Sertich: bringing his passion for serving the region to the Northland Foundation

Tony and Tallie

Tony and Tallie Sertich have life-
long roots in this region and enjoy

all that northeastern Minnesota has

to offer, from camping to the arts.

Tony Sertich speaks northeastern Minnesota. No, not with that exaggerated Fargo accent, but he definitely knows his way around the economic and social landscape. Honed through ten years at the state Legislature and another four as commissioner of the IRRRB, Sertich knows well the region's advantages and challenges in context of the bigger picture.

“My past work has been all about service and advocacy for the people of northeastern Minnesota,” stated Sertich.

“Stepping into this role is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to continue doing what I love to do in exciting, new ways,” he added. Learn a little more about Tony and his wife, Tallie, in the Q&A below.

Could you share more about your background?

I was raised and still live in northeastern Minnesota and enjoy everything about it. My wife, Tallie, and I like to hike, camp, snowmobile, and spend time at the lake as often as we can. We’re also great supporters of the arts and regularly go to music and theatre performances.

The family business started by my dad has grounded me in health care and senior issues, along with the rewards and challenges of owning a small business.

Tallie grew up in Iowa but spent summers visiting her family cabin in Ely, and she always dreamed of living in the area. After college, she took a job with Vermillion Community College in Ely and then moved on to be the director of the Upward Bound program at Hibbing Community College. We share a deep love for this region and have deliberately chosen to stay here. Oh, and we have two cats, Waz and Jellybean. They share their house with us, as cats do.

What made you want to work at Northland Foundation?

“Stepping into this role is
a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to continue doing what I love to do in exciting, new ways.”
—Tony Sertich

Getting to know Tom Renier and partnering with the Foundation over the years, I developed a great respect for Northland. Its priorities of children and families, a sustainable economy, and older adults match my own interests and values.

This is such a unique place. The Northland Foundation’s mix of programming offers a wealth of opportunities to do good work. The Grant Program, Business Finance, KIDS PLUS with its many program areas, Assisted Living, and special projects like the Rural Aging Initiative ... where else could one experience that kind of impact within a single organization?

You've been on the job for about one month. How is it going?

Everyone has been so gracious and welcoming—the Board, staff, partners, and those we serve. I’m really enjoying getting my feet on the ground, learning how things work day-to-day, and getting to know people that much better.

Have you set some near-term goals?

My first goal is to do a lot of listening. As a new leader, it’s critical to engage with communities and our partners all across northeastern Minnesota to listen and learn. What are the needs of today and tomorrow? How can we accomplish our mission even better going forward? These are the questions we want to ask.

Just as The McKnight Foundation entrusted the Northland Foundation to know best how to serve this region, we believe that the people and communities know best what they need. 

What can people in this region, funding partners and colleagues expect from you and the foundation?

Not a lot will change right now. I’m one who likes to listen and assess before putting my stamp on things. The Board of Trustees and the staff are competent and deeply committed to the mission. The ship is still on course and will run smoothly. I am approaching this responsibility—to lead an organization that is held in high regard—seriously and humbly.