People Make the Difference

With many years of business experience under his belt, Norbert “Norb” Conzemius knows what it takes to run a successful enterprise. The decades he spent as a bank executive, the years he worked to turn around a small manufacturing company, and the many boards on which he served give his opinion real weight.

So when Norb says the Catholic Community Foundation (CCF) is a well-run operation, it’s an endorsement worth noting. Norb completed his nine-year term on CCF’s board in 2016, and he’s quick to list a host of reasons for the Foundation’s success. “Good investment performance, low charge rate for fees and services, and a great staff all make it successful. Plus, the organization really understands Catholic needs.”

Those attributes have helped make CCF the largest Catholic community foundation in the country, an accomplishment Norb cites with satisfaction. “CCF is a real leader nationally,” he says. “We set the standard for how this type of foundation should be run.”

Former CCF board member Norb Conzemius and his wife Mary Ellen Conzemius.

Success starts at the top, and Norb says the Foundation has been blessed with strong leaders, beginning with Jim Mullin, followed by Marilou Eldred, and now the current president, Anne Cullen Miller.

Norb’s proud of the fact that he helped promote Anne as Marilou’s successor in 2013. He was vice chair of CCF’s board at the time and skeptical of bringing in an outsider to run the Foundation. “So often the best is right in our own backyard. Anne was right there. She was very motivated and involved.”

Along with effective leadership, Norb touts CCF’s knowledgeable staff, who provide excellent service. “When you call the Foundation with a question, you get an immediate answer.”

Norb’s wife, Mary Ellen, also likes how easy the Foundation has made it to manage their donor advised fund online. “The fund summary gives me a list of all our past contributions. Once I’ve filled out the form, I just click on where we want the funds to go.”

In addition to their donor advised fund, Norb and Mary Ellen have endowments with CCF to support Catholic education. “Mary Ellen and I were both beneficiaries of Catholic schools from kindergarten through college, as were our children, so supporting those schools is important.” An alumnus of Cretin, Norb’s endowment to support Cretin-Derham Hall High School was one of the Foundation’s first. They also have an endowment to support St. Catherine University, Mary Ellen’s alma mater.

As a member of CCF’s strategic planning committee, Norb is genuinely excited about the Foundation’s path forward. “When you look at our leadership, the staff, and board members, it’s clear we have the right people at the right time. When you’ve got that part figured out, anything’s possible.”

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