Community Giving

Jim and Colleen Thompson Michels

Community Foundation(s): Willmar Area
Award: 2014 Award in Philanthropy from the Willmar Area Community Foundation

Jim and Colleen Thompson Michels are well-known in the Kandiyohi County area for their esteemed professional contributions and commitment to giving back.

“The most important giving is of yourself through service,” Jim said.

Each speak fondly and appreciatively about how their parents instilled ethical values and dedication to service.

“Service was embedded into life as an expectation,” Colleen said.

The Willmar Area Community Foundation recognized the couple for their contributions with the 2014 Award in Philanthropy. The Foundation created the award to honor those who work to build a better community and inspire the next generation of philanthropic leaders.

Jim grew up in Willmar, Minnesota, joined the Navy as a high school senior, attended Saint John’s Universiity and the University of Minnesota’s School of Dentistry. He had dental practices in New London and Willmar for 36 years. Jim served as president of the West Central Dental Association, a Dental Association Delegate and organized Willmar’s first community oral cancer exam center. Jim also worked with the International Health Service (IHS) in the central highlands of Honduras, providing oral dental surgery for the indigenous people.

In the 1980s, Jim was involved in the formative years of lake associations by serving in a leadership role for the country-wide lake association. Jim has been involved in the American Legion, the Knights of Columbus and continues 20 years of service as a Rice Hospice Volunteer.

Colleen was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. She received a bachelor’s degree from St. Catherine University and a Master of Arts and a Master of Science from St. Cloud State University. Colleen served in leadership positions at Ridgewater College, Hutchinson and Willmar campuses, including five years as its president. She has received numerous honors while serving organizations, including the Willmar Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way of West Central Minnesota, Bremer Bank-Willmar, Rice Hospital Foundation, Willmar School Board, Willmar Women’s Fund, the Barn Theater, 8th District Judicial Selection Commission and Rice Hospice.