About us

About the 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.

See the impact we made in 2023 PDF icon

Kids’ Chance affiliate

The 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.

Kids' Chance logo

Mission statement

The SFM Foundation is dedicated to easing the burdens on families affected by workplace accidents. To achieve this, we provide post-secondary education scholarships to children of parents fatally or seriously injured on the job.

GuideStar rating

We 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.

Guidestar Platinum Seal of Transparency 2024

16 years of impacting lives

Since 2008, the SFM Foundation has awarded over $4.1 million in scholarships to 247 students. That number continues to grow steadily 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.


Scholarships awarded

Million dollars awarded

Scholarship details

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 $15,000 per year and can receive scholarships annually through graduation from a two-year or four-year college, university, vocational school or graduate school.

Insurer independence

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 played a key role in the creation of the 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.

  • AIG
  • Accident Fund
  • Acuity
  • Administrative Claims Service
  • Am Comp
  • American Family
  • Auto Owners
  • Berkley
  • Broadspire
  • CNA
  • Chartis
  • Cincinnati Insurance Companies
  • Cities & Villages Mutual Insurance Company
  • City of Cedar Rapids
  • City of Milwaukee
  • City of St. Paul
  • CompCost
  • CorVel
  • Crawford
  • Dept. of Labor MN
  • EMC
  • ESIS
  • 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
  • MIGA
  • MN Department of Transportation
  • Meadowbrook
  • Midwest Family Mutual
  • Midwest Safety Group S/I
  • Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust
  • Old Republic Insurance Company
  • QBE
  • Quadrangle Group Self-Insurance Association
  • RTW
  • Rural Mutual Insurance
  • SFM
  • SFM Risk Solutions
  • Safety National Insurance Company
  • Security Insurance Company
  • Sedgwick
  • Sentry Insurance
  • Society Insurance
  • St. Paul Fire & Marine
  • Travelers
  • US Department of Labor
  • Union Pacific
  • Wausau Insurance
  • West Bend Mutual
  • Western National
  • Westfield
  • Wisconsin Department of Administration
  • Zurich

SFM Foundation leadership

Linda Williams

Linda Williams


Lindsay Henningsgaard

Lindsay Henningsgaard

Executive Director

Debra Zorn

Debra Zorn

Scholarship Director

Kim Burandt

Kim Burandt

Event Director

SFM Foundation board of directors

Andy Gebhard, Board Chairman

Andy is the Vice President and Chief Communications Officer at SFM and has been involved with the SFM Foundation since its inception. He held positions in communications and information services at a variety of Twin Cities companies prior to joining SFM.

He previously served as chair of both the American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds Communications and Information Technology Committees.

Andy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.

Linda Williams, President

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.

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. Deb is currently a Vice President of Regional Business at SFM.

She 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.

Mikaela Willhite, Treasurer

Mikaela is a Registered Nurse at Saint Cloud Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit and a past SFM Foundation scholarship recipient.

She received a bachelor’s degree in nursing and graduated with honors and magna cum laude from Saint Cloud State University in 2014. She is a member of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

Cali Skaret, Director

Cali is a Business Insurance Marketing Specialist at Marsh McLennan Agency with a focus on the construction industry. She works with numerous clients in the construction business to help ensure that they have adequate terms and conditions that fit their specific company needs.

She has been in the insurance industry for more than eight years and has experience working as an underwriter for multiple insurance companies which includes workers’ compensation coverage. Cali earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and journalism from the University of Minnesota – Duluth and holds API and AINS designations.

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.

He 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.

Colton Cason, Director

Colton is the Director of Operations at Iowa Orthopedic Center (Iowa Ortho) in Des Moines, Iowa. He earned a bachelor’s degree in human health and physiology from the University of Iowa and an associate’s degree in radiologic technology from Indian Hills Community College.

He has held various roles at Iowa Ortho including that of radiology technologist, clinic supervisor, workers’ compensation department manager, and revenue cycle manager. As the Director of Operations, Colton oversees several departments and works to implement operational efficiencies throughout the company.

Lisa Falck, Director

Lisa is a Regional Sales Director for Paradigm. She has more than 25 years of experience in the workers’ compensation client-facing role. She is known for being highly responsive and providing solutions to make her customers workday easier. Her favorite part of her job is working alongside a talented team and interacting with clients.

She manages a five-state geographical area sharing her knowledge on case management and ancillary services.

Lisa is also a volunteer for the Minnesota Employers Workers’ Compensation Alliance.

Nick Cooling, Director

Nick is a Partner at Peddicord-Wharton law firm and primarily practices in workers’ compensation defense.

He is a member of the Iowa State Bar Association, Polk County Bar Association, Dallas County Bar Association, Iowa Trial Lawyers Association, American Bar Association, and the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network. He has served as planning committee chair for both the Iowa Association of Workers’ Compensation and the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Advisory Committee since 2018.

Nick received his undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa and earned his juris doctorate degree from Drake University Law School in 2014. Outside of work he serves on the board for the Iowa Juvenile Drug Court Collaborative. He also assists with green card and citizenship clinics through the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Des Moines.

Shawn Miner, Director

Shawn is SFM’s Business Manager for Iowa and Nebraska and is based in the Des Moines area. He has over 20 years of experience in the commercial property and casualty business.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business from the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa, and holds CPCU, CIC and ARM designations. He has been involved in the SFM Foundation and Kids’ Chance of Iowa since 2016. He also served on the board of Nebraskans for Workers’ Compensation Equity & Fairness and the Global Insurance Accelerator.

Robert Otos, Director

Rob Otos is the owner of Otos Consulting Group LLC, and has over 20 years expertise in the medical and vocational management of workers’ compensation claims.

He earned a master’s in occupational therapy in 1996 from the College of St Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. He has held multiple senior executive roles for both ALARIS as well as Paradigm Complex Care Solutions prior to opening his own consulting practice.

Rob has extensive case management industry experience and substantial knowledge in job design and injury prevention. He is a long-time advocate within the case management industry and frequently speaks on rehabilitation subjects.

Alison Stewart, Director

Alison Stewart is a Partner at the law firm of Peddicord Wharton. Her primary practice is in workers’ compensation defense.

Alison is a member of the American Bar Association, Iowa State Bar Association, Polk County Bar Association, the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network, and C. Edwin Moore Inn of Court. She served as the vice-chair for the Workers’ Compensation and Employers’ Liability Law General Committee of the American Bar Association and as the co-chair of the planning committee for Iowa Workers’ Compensation Advisory Committee Annual Workers’ Compensation Symposium. Alison is a Martindale-Hubbell AV rated attorney and has both a Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America designation within the workers’ compensation sector. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Simpson College in Indianola, and her law degree from Drake University Law School, in Des Moines, Iowa.


Gary Uhl, Director

Gary Uhl is Vice President of Operations at Sedgwick and has oversight responsibilities for Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. He joined Sedgwick in 2001 and has worked with all sectors, lines and industries with an emphasis on employers with large Midwestern state exposure.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, with a majors in marketing and management. He has served on the Iowa Workforce Development Advisory Committee, the Iowa Industrial Commissioner’s Taskforce for Workers’ Compensation, and is a regular speaker on workers’ compensation topics throughout Iowa and other Midwest states.


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Row of scholarship recipient photos

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