The Sheltering Arms Foundation Names New Trustees and Board President

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Sheltering Arms Foundation is pleased to announce that five women leaders have joined its board of trustees. The 2020-2021 class of trustees includes Sue Bizal of Bloomington, Dr. Nancy McFarlin Diener of Duluth, Susan Gillette of St. Paul, Heidi J. Kim of Minneapolis, and Bronwyn Clark Skov of Hastings. The foundation’s newly elected board president for fiscal year 2020-2021 is Claire Dempsey of Edina, a member of St. Stephen the Martyr Episcopal Church who formerly worked at General Mills as a marketing executive and now is focusing on community volunteer work including serving on the board of Minnesota Audubon.

The new additions bring the Sheltering Arms’ board roster to 18 trustees. Trustees, who serve up to two three-year terms, are women members of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota who volunteer their time and expertise to guide the foundation. Board members are selected for their diverse skills, backgrounds and experiences, and represent congregations throughout Minnesota. They are responsible for being the fiduciary and strategic leaders of the organization. 

“This coming year, our board will focus on being responsive to what’s happening in Minnesota and what our grantees need. We are acutely aware of the difficulties affecting many of the communities we serve, and now both the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd have exacerbated existing inequalities and racial injustice,” said new board president Claire Dempsey, who has a B.A. in economics from Brown University and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She has served on Sheltering Arms’ board since 2016. “We are focusing this year's board education on childhood trauma and how to address trauma in a culturally appropriate way, so that as a board we understand these issues in our own community and can better support our grantees who are helping families through these difficult times.”

Sue Bizal, resident of Bloomington and member of St. Stephen the Martyr Episcopal Church in Edina, volunteers as an art adventure guide for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and district PTSA School Liaison for the Bloomington PTSA Council. Previously she was PTSA president and art adventure school coordinator for Hillcrest Community School, and she served St. Stephen’s on the Stewardship team and on the committee charged with redesigning the church’s primary gathering space, known as the Commons Room. She earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a minor in art history from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, and an associate of arts in interior design from Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, Minn.

Dr. Nancy McFarlin Diener, resident of Duluth and member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, serves her church as lay reader and lay eucharistic minister and volunteers as a sign language interpreter for social justice events in Duluth. She has also volunteered with Animal Allies and at Solvay Hospice House. Previously, she served two terms as a governor-appointed member of the Minnesota Commission serving Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf Blind people, and she is past chair of the State of Minnesota Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf Blind Services Northeast Regional Advisory Board. She has worked in the field of deafness for most of her professional life – as a sign language interpreter, academic counselor, rehab counselor, assistant professor teaching American Sign Language, linguistics, and history courses, and as a volunteer and advocate. She earned a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and a certificate of completion from the Sign Language Interpreter Education Program at St. Paul College. She retired from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in May 2020 and is now an assistant professor emeritus.

Susan Gillette, resident of St. Paul and member of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, is a member of her church’s Global Mission in Haiti committee and is involved with initiatives from the church’s Faith in Action committee working with Loaves and Fishes, Feed My Starving Children, and Project Home. She earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American studies from Dartmouth College, a master’s in linguistics and teaching ESL from the University of Minnesota, and a master’s in Oriental medicine from Northwestern Health Sciences University. She currently works as a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and educator at Crocus Hill Oriental Medicine Clinic. Previously she worked at the University of Minnesota, where she was an education specialist in English as a second language and later was associate director of the Minnesota English Center.

Heidi J. Kim, resident of Minneapolis, is an educator currently serving as the director of the Melrose Family Center for Servant Leadership at Breck School, an Episcopal college preparatory school in Golden Valley, Minn. She also served as the staff officer for Racial Reconciliation for the Episcopal Church for five years, listening and learning with Episcopalians and Anglicans throughout the church. She earned an A.B. in American civilization from Brown University, and an M.A. in sociology from UCLA. Her experience in church-wide ministry as well as in higher and secondary education has focused on the stories of the survivors and disrupters of oppression and marginalization, as well as the struggles of well-intentioned people to speak about volatile issues without endangering relationships with family, friends, and community. She holds a deep commitment to working with curious, diligent, and passionate people of faith to maintain stronger and more faithful communities.

Bronwyn Clark Skov, resident of Hastings and member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, is senior warden for her church and volunteers for the Welch Village Ski Patrol and as an instructor for the National Ski Patrol. She also volunteers with Building Remembrance for Reconciliation, a self-organized group of citizens in Hastings committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion through education and the arts. She earned a bachelor’s in dramatic arts and communications from Macalester College, a certificate in youth ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a certificate in outdoor emergency care with the National Ski Patrol. She currently works for the Episcopal Church of Minnesota as director for faith formation and officer for youth ministries. Prior to this, she was canon for Lay Ministries and Southern Minnesota, serving on Bishop Jelinek’s staff developing training resources for vestries and lay leaders, and she was the youth minister for St Luke’s Church.

The new trustees and board president assume their positions as 38 nonprofit organizations supported by Sheltering Arms’ 2020-2021 grants work to meet the needs of at-risk children. The foundation is investing $430,000 this year in programs that serve Minnesota’s most vulnerable children – focusing on direct service programs in early childhood and out-of-school-time youth development, as well as statewide advocacy campaigns designed to improve Minnesota’s policies that impact children and their families. Areas served by the 38 Sheltering Arms grantees include Blaine, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Duluth, Fridley, Lake Elmo, Landfall, Maplewood, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Red Wing, Spring Lake Park, St. Louis Park, St. Paul, and Stillwater.


The Sheltering Arms Inclusion Statement

The Sheltering Arms Foundation celebrates the diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, class, religion and geographic location of the children and families it serves across Minnesota. We seek to create equal access to resources in order to build a just society in which all children may reach their full potential.


About the Sheltering Arms Foundation

The mission of the Sheltering Arms Foundation is to invest in the lives of children and help them reach their full potential. Based in Minneapolis, the foundation funds nonprofit organizations and supports policies that benefit Minnesota children and their families who have the least access to resources. Since its inception as a grantmaking foundation in 1983, the foundation has provided more than 1,290 grants totaling over $16.6 million. The next deadline for grant applications is in January 2021, with grant applications from Episcopal congregations due on April 1, 2021. For information about submitting a grant request, volunteering, or donating to the foundation, visit or call 612-871-9210 (toll-free: 866-871-9210).

Find More By
News type