Judge approves Cretin-Derham president to fill vacancy on Otto Bremer Trust
A Ramsey County District Court judge has approved the appointment of Francis Miley to fill a vacancy at the helm of the Otto Bremer Trust, one of the state’s oldest philanthropies, over the objection of former trustee Brian Lipschultz.
Miley, the president of Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, will step down from that role at the end of the semester, according to a recent announcement from the school. The former Ramsey County prosecutor was appointed to his new position on Feb. 2 by Charlotte Johnson and Daniel Reardon, the two remaining trustees of the St. Paul-based Otto Bremer Trust, pending court approval.
Judge Robert Awsumb held a court hearing on Miley’s appointment on Feb. 28 and filed his approval on March 8.
The two trustees, according to their attorney and a recently-filed transcript of court proceedings, developed a list of 50 names suggested in part by nonprofit and community leaders, and then narrowed the list to 21 individuals. They later interviewed six candidates.
Officials with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office, which had once sought to remove and handpick all three leaders of the Otto Bremer Trust, submitted a letter to the court noting they did not plan to take a position on Miley’s appointment. Lipschultz, on the other hand, has continued to advocate that he should be reinstated.
Following a lengthy probate hearing led by Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office beginning in late 2021, Awsumb last April ordered Lipschultz removed from the leadership of the Otto Bremer Trust based on accusations of self-dealing. Lipschultz appealed the decision twice last year, but was rebuffed in January by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
Lipschultz, through his attorney, indicated to the court on Feb. 28 that he was in the process of petitioning the Minnesota Supreme Court for a further appeal. He noted that a favorable decision from the state’s highest court would leave the Otto Bremer Trust with four trustees, one more than allowed by its founding documents.
The court was unmoved. Awsumb at the time highlighted Miley’s service with youth and civic boards, as well as his financial experience.
“Appointing a third trustee promotes better administration of the trust … because there are experiences and qualifications and attributes of Mr. Miley that fit well with the needs and the purpose and the history of the trust,” said the judge, according to the written transcript of proceedings filed with the court last week. “We can’t control what happens next.”
Lipschultz was a key actor in efforts to unseat the board of Bremer Bank, the philanthropy’s largest asset, and ready the bank for sale to outside investors.
Bank officials, as well as officials with the attorney general’s office, have noted that multiple lawsuits involving the philanthropy, the bank board, bank employees and investors are still pending, and having three trustees in place will be important in advance of upcoming legal mediation.
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