About Ordean

Our History

Albert and Louise Ordean came to Duluth in 1882, shortly after they married. Mr. Ordean entered the wholesale grocery trade and later served as the longtime president of the First National Bank of Duluth. As a leader in commerce and trade, and as a friend of President William McKinley and railroad magnate James A. Hill, Mr. Ordean was offered positions of national prestige in commerce and government. However, he and Mrs. Ordean chose to stay in Duluth where they became active in many local charities, particularly the Duluth Children’s Home—although the couple never had children of their own.

Albert Ordean’s generous will called for the creation of a charity to administer and furnish relief and charity for Duluth’s poor without discrimination to age, sex, color or religious inclination of the beneficiary. Mr. Ordean died in 1928 at the age of 72, and a year after the death of Mrs. Ordean, the Ordean Foundation was officially incorporated on December 19, 1933.

The organization began with an endowment $2.1 million – the second largest estate filed in St. Louis County and exceeded only by the Congdon estate. Until the 1960s, the Ordean Foundation functioned as a charity, providing grants to people needing medical care, fuel, food, clothing and other necessities. With the passage of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty legislation establishing public safety net programs, the Ordean Foundation began phasing out direct aid to individuals and began building relationships with agencies that serve low-income residents and families in Duluth and adjacent communities.

Since the early 1970s, the Ordean Foundation has awarded more than $55 million in grants to local nonprofits. Surely Albert and Louise Ordean would be very pleased with the work of the Ordean Foundation, created by his will, and the countless lives impacted by the family legacy.

Albert and Louise Ordean, circa 1925

Albert & Louise Ordean

Photograph Taken 1925
Duluth, Minnesota

Ordean Foundation Leadership Team

Ordean Foundation's Board of Directors provide strategic direction, stewardship, and governance for the Foundation. We are extremely grateful for the compassionate leaders who sit on our Board of Directors who are committed to meet the challenges that confront our community.

Jim Vizanko

Jim Vizanko

Board President

Chuck Walt

Chuck Walt

Board Vice President

Jon Nelson

Jon Nelson

Board Secretary

Traci Morris

Traci Morris

Board Treasurer

Marsha Hystead

Marsha Hystead

John Strange

John Strange

Maria Isley

Maria Isley

Marcus Jones

Marcus Jones

Stacy Johnson

Stacy Johnston

Tony Yung

Tony Yung

Don Ness

Don Ness is Executive Director of the Ordean Foundation. Established in 1933, the Ordean Foundation has a long, proud heritage of addressing issues of poverty in Duluth.

Prior to joining the Ordean Foundation, Don served 16 years in elected leadership, culminating with a 91 percent job approval rating in his role as Mayor of Duluth. During this time, he was honored with the titles of both Twin Cities Business Person of the Year and the Labovitz School of Business and Economics Business Person of the Year.

He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, majoring in business administration and economics, and he earned a Masters in Management from the College of St. Scholastica.  Prior to his tenure as Mayor, he was the campaign manager for Congressman Jim Oberstar for nearly 10 years. Don is an award-winning author, an adjunct political science instructor, and an active civic leader serving on a number of boards and community-based initiatives.

Don’s core values include a deep dedication to his family, and an ongoing spirit of service to his community. He and his wife Laura continue to live in Duluth with their three children.

Joe Everett

Joe Everett is the Program Director of The Ordean Foundation.

Prior to joining the foundation in 1987, Joe worked for the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission in the Community & Economic Development Division. He has been recognized as a “Distinguished Alumnus”  by the University of Minnesota Duluth Department of Economics and by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits as a “Nonprofit Ally”.

He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth, majoring in economics and business, and earned a Master of Science Degree in Finance from the University of Wisconsin Madison. He also worked as a civil draftsman for the Burlington Northern Railroad.

Joe was born in Duluth, graduating from Duluth Central High School, and has lived here all his life except for time in Madison to attend college and in St. Paul to work for Burlington Northern. Most of his family lives in the Duluth area where he enjoys the lake, playing hockey and golf, and all the amenities of living in this special community.

Maude Dornfeld

Maude Dornfeld is the Associate Director of the Ordean Foundation.

Before joining the Ordean Foundation, Maude served as the executive director of Life House, a Duluth nonprofit providing comprehensive services to homeless youth. During her tenure, she oversaw significant organizational growth and transformation, including the launch of several new housing programs.

Earlier in her career, she worked for 20+ years as a research professional and college instructor. Maude earned a certificate in nonprofit administration and fund development at the University of Wisconsin and a Master of Arts with doctoral studies in sociology from the University of Minnesota. She is married, raised three daughters, and loves spending time outdoors hiking, kayaking, and camping.