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June 3, 2021

Reaffirming Our Commitment

By The Rev. Jeff Thiemann

Over the last year, I’ve returned often to this concept: “Resilience is not just about surviving adversity; it’s about being improved by it.” This has been a uniquely challenging time for all of us, and we’ve grieved the violence that ensued on our city streets.

Amidst this suffering, I believe strongly that we’ve also been given the opportunity to grow, and with fresh energy, to reaffirm the important work of creating meaningful inclusion and diversity, to listen and expand our understanding of systemic racism, and to try new solutions to old problems.

This is a journey, and with the continued energy, commitment, and support of our employees, leaders, and partners, we are striving to make a meaningful difference that contributes to positive change. While our organization works on many fronts to promote inclusion and diversity, I’m proud of these steps we’ve recently taken at Portico.

Helping in the Wake of Civil Unrest

Portico employees stood with the Minneapolis community in the wake of George Floyd’s death and subsequent civil unrest, actively participating in food drives, and supporting the community outreach of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.

Empowering Employees to Lead

Over the last year, a group of our employees came together and launched a new inclusion and diversity initiative. With great intention, respect, and patience, and the full support of leadership, this voluntary employee team is organically breathing new life into the powerful question: How can we become a more genuinely inclusive Portico community? Named STRIVE (Stewards Together Respecting Inclusion Valuing Equity), this group sponsors a variety of opportunities for employees to learn and grow. In addition, recognizing that inclusion and diversity issues are expansive, confusing, and intimidating, we offered a session as part of our annual required training that created space for employees to gain more knowledge about the differences that people bring with them to work every day.

Donations From Our Board of Trustees

At Portico’s November 2020 Board of Trustees meeting, trustees and staff collected $7,100 to donate to “Together We Rise: A Campaign to Build Equity.” This partnership between Redeemer Center for Life, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA expands resources to support low-income communities in North Minneapolis.

Strengthening Leadership’s Cultural Competency

Our Leadership Council has completed an Intercultural Development Inventory Assessment in partnership with the YWCA Minneapolis Racial Justice Department, a national leader in the field of racial equity. Each leader will receive a personalized report, and results will be aggregated to help leadership establish goals and accountabilities.

Pledging to Focus More Intentionally on Recruiting Diverse Job Candidates

We look at all aspects of diversity and have put more focus on ensuring our recruiting and talent development is equitable and reflective of our diverse world.

Investing $25M Via Social Purpose Funds in an additional Community and Economic Development Bond

This sizeable social purpose investment supports the ELCA’s commitment to strengthening communities where many residents are living in poverty.

Photo of

The Rev. Jeff Thiemann

Jeff was drawn to lead Portico by the opportunity to combine two things he cares about deeply: solving the complex challenges of health care and retirement planning and helping more people through God’s work. When he became president and CEO of Portico in 2011, Jeff was able to combine his passions, leading the talented team at Portico to help bring over 40,000 members holistic benefits so they can better serve the congregations, employees, and communities of the ELCA.

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