Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation

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Brainerd Lakes Area Women's Fund Advisory Board Members

Karen Munsterteiger, Chair
Jill Carlson, Former Past Chair
Leah Boedigheimer
Tammy Bengtson
Kelly Burns
Terri Foster
Lisa Haberman
Cori Reynolds
Kim Rollins
Pam Thomsen


Brainerd Lakes Area Women's Fund

Communities flourish when women and children are healthy and well-educated. It's that spirit that led a group of women to start the Brainerd Lakes Area Women's Fund in 2009.

The Brainerd Lakes Area Women's Fund (BLAWF) aims to enhance the lives of women and girls in the Brainerd Lakes Area and to involve women as leaders and donors in the process. The Women's Fund is part of the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation and is led by a steering committee of community leaders.

What is our purpose as a nonprofit organization?

The BLAWF supports innovative solutions to the challenges facing women and girls that improve our community and positively impact the future.

Who do we want to receive the benefit?

  • Women
  • Girls
  • Organizations that serve women and girls

What is the promise we are making?

  • Recognize women who have provided a significant, positive impact to the community
  • Fundraise as a grant conduit to other organizations
  • Provide education programs related to the challenges facing women and girls in our community
  • Serve as a conversation convener to raise awareness of challenges facing women and girls

How do we deliver on our promises in a meaningful way?

  • Women Making Waves event
  • Sustainable fundraising through 365 Giving
  • Presenting Yourself program
  • Forums and focus groups
  • Professional Advisor trainings

Women Making Waves Award

The "Women Making Waves" award recognizes a women who has significantly contributed to the field of philanthropy in the region by their personal and/or professional contributions. It is important that this woman has shared her time, talent and financial resources within the community. The award is presented at our Women's Fund event in the spring of the year.Previous Award Recipients.

To nominate a woman for the "Women Making Waves" award, click here.

2012 - Cheryl Gelbman
2013 - Pam O’Rourke
2014 - Sue Hadland
2015 - Cindy Moore
2016 - Sherri Delahunt
2017 - Pat Alrichter and Marlee Larson
2018 - Joey Halvorson
2019- Ruthie Gmeinder


Women Making Waves Event

On Tuesday, April 14, 2020, the Brainerd Women’s Fund will be holding our annual Women Making Waves event at Grand View Lodge.

Ruth Gmeinder Named 2019 Women Making Waves Recipients


Ruth Gmeinder is a busy entrepreneur and hostess, operating Gull Lake Resort. Yet, she still finds time to “make some waves”, positively influencing the Brainerd Lakes Area. Ruth is a generous, kind, and talented community member who invests time and resources into several organizations and groups.

Raised in Brainerd most of her life, she attended Brainerd High School and graduated from the University of Minnesota as a Dietician. She has owned and operated Gull Lake Resort for 32 years, with her husband Mike. She is married with two sons and three grandchildren. Her passions are travel, gardening, art, design and music; Nature is a constant in her life. According to friend, Linda Hanson, Ruth is always up for an adventure - - she is involved with a kayaking group and enjoys traveling and outdoor adventures. Ruth is incredibly talented and has a vision for large scale, impossible projects that somehow she makes reality. She is an amazing seamstress and can produce Broadway/Hollywood quality costumes and props of which she generously shares with local non-profits and organizations for fundraising events.

Ruth has served on too many boards and committees to count, some of the most notable ones are included in the following. Ruth has been a board member of the Brainerd Rotary Club, the Brainerd Rotary Foundation, and loves to cook for their ditch pick up.She was a member of the School Board for 20 years, Community Education, Family Services Collaborative, Early Childhood Family Education, Joint Powers, now called Sourcewell, the Brainerd Lakes Community Foundation, the Women’s Fund, and Essentia Home Care and Ethics committee.She has been involved with organizations by donating her costumes to Lakes Area Music Festival, GLAPA, the Northland Arboretum’s Haunted Trail, and numerous other organizations.Ruth annually brings over 50 of her medieval costumes to the Boy Scout Parker Castle for all the Lowell third graders to try on and enjoy.Ruth has always worked with women, and she started the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program for Crow Wing County in 1979, and was a member of the Child Protection Team.

Ruth has an amazing ability to convince people to volunteer. Her enthusiasm is infectious. Vicki Foss, Executive Director at Northland Arboretum states, “Ruth is responsible for 50% of the volunteer base for the Haunted Trail through her contacts. Many of the volunteers that she has secured for the event are now members of the Arb because of their experience at the Haunted Trail. The Haunted Trail, through her leadership and vision, has become one of our biggest fundraising events and now includes a low-scare option as well as the high scare route. This and the wonderful costumes and props she provides has increased the popularity of the event in the community with families and generated over $200,000 in revenue.”

Scott Lykins, Artistic & Executive Director of Lakes Area Music Festival, shared, “I first met Ruthie at an event where she had one of her intricate costumes on display. That year at the Lakes Area Music Festival we were presenting our very first opera and I asked if she might have anything we could use. Not only did she have something, but she invited us over to her costume house and generously provided every costume and prop necessary to make our cast look as incredible as they sounded. Every year she has participated on our team, providing what would be incredibly costly for work and materials without charge. On top of that she generously donates to our organization to ensure our continued success and she participates as a volunteer in numerous other ways. Ruth does all of this on top of her many other generous commitments throughout our community.”

Ruth’s personality is as colorful as her outfits, and she is definitely a Woman Making Waves in the Brainerd Lakes Area and has touched the lives of many people. Her joy in helping out is contagious and she is never afraid to others to get involved alongside her. Congratulations Ruth on receiving the 2019 Brainerd Lake’s Area Women’s Fund’s Women Making Waves Award!


Empowering, sustaining, nurturing and connection. Our vision can't happen wihout your support. Contact us today to see how you can volunteer, contribute and make a difference in the lives of women and girls in the Lakes Area.

For more information about the Brainerd Lakes Area Women's Fund, email us at

If you are interested in volunteering for the Women's Fund or are in need of the services we provide, please complete the information below and someone will get back to you within 24-48 hours. If you need an immediate response please call 877-253-4380.

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