Staff transitions: Welcomes and farewells

Bruce, Sheila, Alicia and Sophie (FMR staff)

Clockwise from top left: Bruce Freidson, retired finance director; Sheila Gothmann, new finance director; Sophie Downey, promoted program assistant; Alicia Uzarek, former policy advocate. (Photo credit: Alicia Uzarek by Tom Reiter)

The past few months have brought a lot of changes for FMR as you may have noticed from recent job postings. We can now proudly introduce our new finance director, Sheila Gothmann, and congratulate Sophie Downey, promoted program assistant.

We also want to pay tribute to two staff that have moved on — Bruce Freidson, our intrepid finance director who has now retired, and Alicia Uzarek, former policy advocate who continues important planning work in Minneapolis.

Welcome to Sheila Gothmann, our new finance director

FMR is delighted to announce that Sheila Gothmann has joined our team as finance director. Sheila comes to FMR with over 30 years’ nonprofit experience, including 20 in chief finance officer roles for the Women's Foundation of Minnesota and Youthprise. She has also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal and a field representative with CARE International in Mozambique.

Sheila’s transition to FMR was motivated by the organization’s mission. She says, “I read an in-depth article about the state of our environment, and was so moved and compelled by what I learned, I decided to seek out an organization that is devoted to improving our planet.  By good fortune, a friend introduced me to FMR, and to my delight, there was an opening for a finance director. I’m so excited to be part of protecting and improving the Mississippi River.”

A native Minnesotan, Sheila is active in the Minneapolis City of Lakes Rotary and the Minneapolis Women's Rotary. She enjoys pontooning, gardening, reading, and spending time with her husband, Tim. Welcome, Sheila!

Bruce and Sheila

Happy retirement to Bruce Freidson!

FMR will not be the same without former finance director, Bruce Freidson.

After an extensive career including over 13 years with other local nonprofits, Bruce served as FMR’s finance director for 10 years before retiring in January, 2019.  

“Bruce directed our finances through a period of dramatic growth and change,” says Executive Director Whitney Clark. “But with his financial acumen and steady eye to our long-term health, we not only weathered the great recession but grew our programs and impact.”

Although quiet and low-key, Bruce was renowned and beloved for his wry wit and ability to lighten the mood, especially through the shameless use of puns.

FMR’s staff and board are deeply grateful for his service to the organization and the river. Thank you, Bruce — we'll miss you!

Congrats to Sophie Downey, our promoted program assistant

Sophie Downey

With Alicia's departure, who will take care of FMR’s growing cadre of River Guardians? No reason to fear — Sophie is here! FMR’s advocacy and action alert operation won’t skip a beat with Sophie Downey taking over as the main point of contact for the River Guardians. As the legislative session heats up, expect to see some calls for action in your inbox from Sophie.

Sophie has been working to support FMR’s stewardship volunteers since the spring of 2018, but her work portfolio recently expanded to include supporting our water and river corridor advocacy work as well as the membership and development team.

Sophie’s excellent abilities in communications and technology are a huge asset to just about every department at FMR. Congratulations, Sophie!

Farewell to Alicia Uzarek, our former policy advocate

Alicia Uzarek

Saying farewell to Alicia Uzarek, FMR’s policy advocate, is bittersweet. She will be missed by so many of FMR’s community partners, advocates and staff — but we are proud of her great work at FMR and excited for the opportunities she will have in her new role as a planning and development consultant with HDR, Inc.
Working with people from many different places and backgrounds, Alicia built FMR’s River Guardian Program into a real force of 2,000 activists, coordinated two Water Action Days at the Capitol and helped generate genuine action on issues of public access to the Mississippi River in North Minneapolis. She worked with neighbors to save River Heights Park (twice) and to stop the Shepard-Davern Development protecting the Bdote viewshed. Overall, she advocated within countless planning and development processes throughout the Mississippi River’s national park.
According to her supervisor, Irene Jones: “Alicia brings amazing warmth and genuine concern for everyone she works with, and we have been fortunate to have her on our team for the past five years.” Best wishes from all of us, Alicia!

Read more about our staff.