About SFM Foundation
SFM Foundation scholarships make college more affordable for families affected by workplace injuries.
College is expensive, but it’s even harder to afford when a child’s parent has been severely hurt or killed at work.
Some of our scholarship recipients have a parent who makes less money than they did before they were injured. Some have a parent who can no longer work, or lost a parent entirely. Most of them have added responsibility and shifted priorities due to their parent’s injury.
That’s where we step in to help. We make education possible for students who may not otherwise have the opportunity.
Kids’ Chance affiliate
SFM Foundation is an affiliate of Kids’ Chance of America in Iowa and Minnesota. Kids’ Chance is a national nonprofit that creates, assists and supports organizations across the United States that provide educational opportunities and scholarships to the children of workers who were seriously injured or killed on the job.
SFM Foundation is dedicated to easing the burdens on families affected by workplace accidents. To achieve this, the Foundation provides post-secondary education scholarships to children of parents fatally or seriously injured on the job.
SFM Foundation earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency by GuideStar, which is the top transparency rating a nonprofit can receive. GuideStar rates nonprofits on their commitment to transparency based on the amount of information shared about the work they do.
12 years of impacting lives
Since 2008, SFM Foundation has awarded $2.1 million in scholarships to 173 students. That number continues to grow exponentially each year. We were created by SFM Companies, a regional workers’ compensation insurance group headquartered in Bloomington, Minnesota. While SFM remains a major sponsor of the Foundation, the majority of scholarships have been awarded to the families of injured workers not insured by SFM.
Million dollars awarded
Scholarships are available to qualifying students whose parents have been disabled or fatally injured while working for Minnesota or Iowa employers. Each scholarship recipient is eligible for up to $10,000 per year and can receive scholarships annually through graduation from a two-year or four-year college, university or vocational school.
Scholarships are awarded regardless of which insurance company was involved in the workers’ compensation claim. In fact, most scholarships have been awarded to the families of injured workers who are not insured by SFM. While SFM Companies played a key role in the founding of SFM Foundation and continues to be a valued sponsor of the organization, the program is designed to serve the entire community. Scholarship applicants are evaluated with no consideration for which insurance carrier was involved in the injury claim. Below is a breakdown of the workers’ compensation insurance carriers covering the workers whose children have received our scholarships.
- Accident Fund
- Administrative Claims Service
- Am Comp
- American Family
- Auto Owners
- Cincinnati Insurance Companies
- Cities & Villages Mutual Insurance Company
- City of Cedar Rapids
- City of Milwaukee
- City of St. Paul
- Dept. of Labor MN
- Employers Assurance Company
- Federated Mutual Insurance Company
- Frankenmuth Insurance
- GAB Robins
- Gallagher Bassett
- Great West Casualty
- Helsman Management Services
- Illinois Casualty
- Integrity Mutual Insurance
- Iowa Municipalities Workers’ Compensation
- League of MN Cities
- Liberty Mutual
- Lumbermen’s Underwriting Alliance
- MN Department of Transportation
- Midwest Family Mutual
- Midwest Safety Group S/I
- Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust
- Old Republic Insurance Company
- Quadrangle Group Self-Insurance Association
- Rural Mutual Insurance
- Safety National Insurance Company
- Security Insurance Company
- Sentry Insurance
- Society Insurance
- St. Paul Fire & Marine
- US Department of Labor
- Union Pacific
- Wausau Insurance
- West Bend Mutual
- Western National
- Wisconsin Department of Administration
SFM Foundation leadership
SFM Foundation board of directors
David Kaiser, Board Chairman
Dave is one of the co-founders of the SFM Foundation and previously served as President. He currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for SFM Mutual Insurance Company, a workers’ compensation insurer organization headquartered in Bloomington, and Minnesota’s largest writer of workers’ compensation insurance.
Dave earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, MN. He is a member of the Minnesota Insurance Federation Information Technology Committee, CIO Committee Member and Mentorship Program Mentor of Think IT, United Way Emerging Leaders, and is a former Big Brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Patricia Johnson, Treasurer
Pat was President and Chief Executive Officer of SFM Mutual Insurance Company, retiring in 2007.
Pat is a graduate of Minnesota State University Mankato and received a law degree in 1974 from the University of Minnesota. She has served in leadership positions in a multitude of insurance organizations, on the Minneapolis Human Rights Commission, as chair of the Minnesota Safety Council, and in support of various other community and arts organizations. She is an active alumna of both the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State University Mankato, serving for many years on the board of the MSU Foundation. She has taught MBA courses, and is a volunteer at the English Learning Center, where she teaches preparation for citizenship and math to newer immigrants.
Debra Zorn, Secretary
Deb is the scholarship director for the SFM Foundation, and manages the recruiting and grading of scholarship applications, as well as payments of scholarships. She is also the main contact for scholarship recipients and their families, which includes a mentoring role. She is currently a Business Manager at SFM.
Deb is a 2006 graduate of Cardinal Stritch University in human resource management. She earned a PHR certification in 2009 and SHRM-CP certification in 2015.
Darrin Ausman, Director
Darrin is the Workers’ Compensation Business Development Manager in Iowa and South Dakota for Athletico Physical Therapy. He has over 25 years’ experience as a hand therapist working to design, manage and promote rehabilitation programs.
Darrin graduated from Wartburg College in 1987 with a B.A. in biology. He received a B.S. in occupational therapy from Washington University followed by an MBA from St. Louis University in 1995.
In addition to his business development role, Darrin continues to work as a clinician holding advanced certifications in hand therapy, functional capacity training and ergonomics.
Tamara Evans, Director
Tami is the Director of Workers Comp Claims, Assistant Vice President of EMC Insurance Companies, in Des Moines, Iowa. She has 30 years of workers’ compensation experience in multiple jurisdictions.
Tami received a bachelor’s degree from Central College in Pella, Iowa, and has earned multiple designations in the insurance industry including: CPCU, AIC, AIM, ACS, AIS and SCLA-Gold. She is past President and current member of the Iowa Workers Comp Advisory Committee and has been a member of multiple committees for Property Casualty Institute (PCI), International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) and Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI). She also recently completed 12 years on her local city council.
Shannon Ford, Director
Shannon is the Manager of Case Management for the Heartland Region of Encore Unlimited, LLC. She has 20 years’ experience in disability management and vocational rehabilitation in workers’ compensation.
Shannon earned a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Iowa in 1996, and is certified as a rehabilitation counselor through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. In addition to her core responsibilities at Encore, she also serves on the Leadership and Quality Committee as well as the Regulatory Committee. She is a current member of her local rotary, has served as a member of Junior League, and in many other volunteer capacities in her community.
Thomas Gallagher, Director
Tom is a Principal at Gallagher & Associates, Inc., a division of RJF, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LL Company. He has over 30 years experience in the insurance industry.
Tom earned a bachelor’s degree from Northland College. He has worked with school districts for more than 20 years and has been a sponsor member of the Minnesota Association of School Business Officials (MASBO) for that time. He is also a business partner with the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA).
Lee Hook, Director
Lee is a Partner at Peddicord,Wharton, Spencer, Hook, Barron & Wegman law firm and primarily practices in the area of workers’ compensation defense.
Lee is a Fellow of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers and member of the Iowa State Bar Association, Polk County Bar Association, Iowa Trial Lawyers Association, American Bar Association, Iowa Association of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers and the Iowa Defense Counsel Association, as well as the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network.
He grew up in Boone, Iowa and is a lifelong resident of Iowa. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa and earned his juris doctorate degree from Drake University Law School in 1981. Lee has been actively involved with the Make a Wish Foundation of Iowa for many years, and has served as President as well as a member of its Board of Directors.
Sonia O’Brien, Director
Sonia is a Government Affairs Strategist for State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. She has over 27 years of experience in the insurance industry.
Sonia received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota Moorhead, and an Associate in Management from the Insurance Institute of America. She has served in a variety of leadership positions within State Farm and a past participant in the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Leadership Minnesota program.
Robert Otos, Director
Rob is the Senior Vice President of Operations and owner of ALARIS, and has 18 years of case management and insurance related experience.
Rob joined ALARIS in 2000 with extensive case management industry experience and substantial knowledge in job design and injury prevention. His experience at ALARIS includes development of a multi-state region, sales across jurisdictions, governmental relations and talent management. In his current role as Senior Vice President of Operations, Rob is responsible for developing strategies for and leading all operations. He is a long-time advocate within the case management industry and frequently speaks on rehabilitation subjects.
Mikaela Willhite, Director
Mikaela is a Registered Nurse at Saint Cloud Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit.
Mikaela is a past SFM Foundation scholarship recipient and a Saint Cloud State University graduate. She received a bachelor’s degree in nursing and graduated with honors and magna cum laude in 2014. She is a member of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.
Linda Williams, Director
Linda became the SFM Foundation President in 2019. She has played a key role with the SFM Foundation for many years, having served as its Executive Director since 2016. She manages the Foundation’s fundraising and sponsorships, and oversees its day-to-day operations.
She currently serves as Risk and Compliance Technical Specialist for SFM Mutual Insurance Company, a workers’ compensation insurer organization headquartered in Bloomington, and Minnesota’s largest writer of workers’ compensation insurance.
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