Community Foundation(s): Willmar Area
Award: 2022 WACF Innovative Impact Award
Ken Warner has spent the better part of 40 years working for businesses and the people in his community. Lucky for us, 32 of those years have been in Kandiyohi County. “My family made Willmar home not once but twice. It’s been wonderful to us,” notes Ken.
Most folks know Ken as the president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber but they do not realize how many community building efforts he has been part of: The creation of the Willmar Area Community Foundation, the Economic Development Commission (formerly the KCEDPI), Vision 2020 and 2040, and (his personal favorite) the Destination Playground to name just a few.
Ken shares, “I have been fortunate to have great boards, volunteers and staff to be able to help support the community. We need everyone to help row the boat. I look forward to whatever is next!”
In 2005 Willmar received the All-American City designation, which recognizes communities using inclusive civic engagement to address critical issues and create stronger connections among its residents, businesses, and nonprofit and government leaders. Willmar’s presentation centered on successes in overcoming local diversity challenges. Ken regularly receives calls from around the nation as communities start to see diversity and when they look for role model sites, Willmar comes up. Ken shares how Willmar has succeeded when so many others struggle.
“The secret sauce is the people,” says Ken. “We have a ‘Kan-do’ attitude. We have our challenges, but those challenges are really opportunities in disguise. People are not afraid to get involved. We invite everyone to pitch in and make our community the best it can be!”