Clinton A. Schroeder Distinguished Service Award
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Established in 2008, the Clinton A. Schroeder Distinguished Service Award recognizes the contributions of Clinton A. Schroeder to the charitable and planned giving community in Minnesota and across the nation.


Clinton A. Schroeder

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2019 Recipient: Cheryl Nelson

Cheryl Nelson

Cheryl Nelson was privileged to be part of the formative meeting creating the Minnesota Planned Giving Council and was elected to its first board of directors in 1986. Her first board responsibility was to co-chair and create a new, restructured annual planned giving conference. She volunteered in many capacities chairing annual conferences, chairing the education committee while serving several terms on the board. On one occasion, Veterans Day, Cheryl played the piano at the MPGC breakfast meeting, utilizing her piano skills as a lifelong church musician and former music teacher.

Cheryl was a planned giving pioneer in the early years, starting planned giving programs from the ground up, turning around development programs, uncovering hidden donors and achieving significant, complex, lasting planned gift success. She achieved the specialty of developing and closing substantial planned gifts from uniquely challenging donors. Her fondest memories are of mentoring and encouraging others to begin careers in planned giving.

Cheryl began her career in 1982 with the American Lutheran Church (ALC) where she worked with multiple endowments for Lutheran churches and retirement homes, creating policies and procedures used system wide. She was an organizer and presenter at the ALC’s annual development conference, the predecessor to the MPGC conference. At DARTS (Dakota Area Resources and Transportation for Seniors) in 1984, she started planned giving, wrote planned giving articles for the monthly newsletter, and began the DARTS legacy society. In 1987, she started planned giving for Minnesota Public Radio, created their legacy society, and wrote planned giving articles for the Minnesota Monthly magazine. The MPR donor travel program was initiated and launched by Cheryl in 1991. At The Saint Paul Foundation in 1992, Cheryl co-designed and led training for over 50 area non-profits to establish and grow their successful major and planned gift programs.

Midpoint in her career, Cheryl endured and overcame personal tragedy and then dealt with catastrophic health issues for years, all the while continuing to do her professional work. Cheryl kept all of this private from her colleagues, drew her strength from the Lord and kept her focus on the donors, her colleagues and the mission at hand.

While at the University of St. Thomas beginning in 1997, she uncovered, developed and achieved remarkable gifts from hidden donors. In 2001 at US Bank, Cheryl managed a multi-million dollar portfolio of charitable trusts and endowments, trained numerous non-profits in creating major and planned gift programs, and wrote grant-making policies and procedures for multiple major family foundations. Then, in 2012, Cheryl brought her years of experience to her alma mater, Mitchell Hamline School of Law, where she identified, developed and closed the most satisfying gifts of her 35 year career working with talented, entrepreneurial lawyers.

In addition to her service to the MPGC, Cheryl was active in the Rotary Club of Saint Paul, a member of the American Bar Association, the Minnesota State Bar Association and the Minnesota Probate and Trust Law Section, where she continually encouraged her colleagues to become involved in MPGC.

Cheryl received her BA degree in Music from St. Olaf College and her JD degree from William Mitchell College of Law.

Purpose of Award

The Clinton A. Schroeder Distinguished Service Award is bestowed annually in recognition of outstanding service and leadership in the field of charitable gift planning. The Minnesota Planned Giving Council established the Award in honor of Clinton A. Schroeder, a principal in Gray Plant Mooty's Trust, Estate & Charitable Planning group, who inspires and serves as a role model for generations of gift planners. The inaugural Award was bestowed on Clinton A. Schroeder at the 2008 MPGC annual conference, and subsequent Awards shall be presented annually to a leader in the field of charitable gift planning to recognize and encourage outstanding service and exceptional leadership.


A highly respected, past or present member of MPGC (or another local planned giving council if not from Minnesota), who has served and advanced the profession of gift planning, as a development professional, non-profit executive, financial or professional advisor, attorney, tax advisor, accountant, life insurance agent, etc., and who has made an outstanding impact on charitable giving through service and leadership that has furthered philanthropic planning.

Nominations that are not selected in the year they are nominated remain eligible for consideration the subsequent year.

Past Recipients


  • Completed Nomination Form.
  • Nomination letter from a member in good standing of the Minnesota Planned Giving Council.
  • Two letters of recommendation: one from a present or past supervisor or professional colleague who can attest to the Nominee’s leadership capabilities and service to the field; and one from a personal friend or colleague familiar with the Nominee’s extraordinary service to non-profit community organizations or charitable activities.


  • A call for nominations is distributed via the summer newsletter.
  • Nominations must be submitted by September 13, 2019. They are then sent to the committee for review.
  • Nominees will be notified on or before October 1 about whether or not they have been awarded.
  • The award will be presented at the Annual Conference.

Schroeder Award Selection Committee

The Past Chair of the MPGC Board chairs the Selection Committee and reaches out to other Board members, Conference Chair, Program Chair and Clint Schroeder himself for participation on the Selection Committee. Clinton Schroeder is invited to participate on the selection committee as long as he wishes to participate, or another award recipient in his place.