We're proud to announce that two Team Opus members have been recognized as Women in Business Honorees by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Margaret Knowlton, director of environmental risk for Opus Holding, L.L.C., and Amy Goldman, chair & CEO of GHR Foundation and director on The Opus Group's board, have been named to the 2018 class. The award honors women “for their professional achievements, leadership and contributions to the broader Twin Cities community."
Margaret Knowlton: Blazing a Trail for Environmental Due Diligence
Margaret Knowlton is a trailblazer. She's made a career of turning undesirable sites of contaminated dirt into viable and profitable development projects that drive growth and benefit the community in many ways.
As a commercial real estate paralegal in the 1980s, Margaret was asked to investigate a newly emerging field—environmental risk. At a time when “strict liability" laws were being imposed in real estate, she saw an opportunity. Observing a convergence of industry, market and environmental dynamics, she quickly realized this capability would become critical in the real estate development business.
In 1988 Margaret joined our legal department, at a time when there was no formalized environmental practice. Our process to assess brownfield sites often resulted in turning down deals with too much apparent risk. Combining her knowledge, expertise and knack for solving difficult issues, she presented a new path and pioneered an environmental due diligence process and environmental protocols for our team.
Now, as director of environmental risk, Margaret balances the art and science of this work, with a level of sophistication that's highly valued and extremely rare. Margaret has applied her extensive experience with environmental due diligence, site remediation, risk analysis and environmental insurance to thousands of projects over the past three decades. She consistently brings innovative ideas to leverage environmental challenges to create new opportunities. As cities keep expanding, development opportunities continue shifting from greenfield sites to the perceived less-desirable brownfield sites, so the protocols Margaret has developed grow increasingly critical to support continued development and sustainable growth for us and communities.
Margaret and her work are very highly regarded and respected by her peers and in the industry. This is evidenced by her past participation and current board membership with Minnesota Brownfields, where she's served as a member of the board since 2014. Minnesota Brownfields is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote, through education, research and partnerships, the efficient cleanup and reuse of contaminated land as a means of generating economic growth, strengthening communities and enabling sustainable land use and development. Margaret currently serves as corporate secretary and chairs the Programs Committee.
Read more about Margaret's work in this profile.
Amy Goldman: Philanthropic & Community Leader
Amy Goldman has led GHR Foundation since 2009, when she was named the first full-time employee of the family foundation established in 1965 by Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst, founders of Opus. As CEO and chair, she has provided the vision and direction to guide the philanthropy to grow to 30 employees managing its endowment and $26 million in annual grants.
Amy is responsible for all management aspects of the Foundation, using her experience in diplomacy, political economy, social investment and organizational governance to fund scalable solutions locally and globally. She is a trusted voice and dedicated partner committed to improving lives locally and globally.
For much of its 53-year history, GHR has been a quiet funder of global development, education and health initiatives. However, under Amy's leadership last year GHR launched its most high-profile endeavor to date—the BridgeBuilder Challenge. This three-year partnership with global open-innovation platform OpenIDEO, part of global design and innovation agency IDEO, sought social innovations addressing the most urgent global challenges at the intersection of peace, prosperity and planet in radically new ways. More than 650 ideas were submitted from participants in 185 countries for consideration as one of the Top Ideas and a share in a $1 million prize.
BridgeBuilder garnered worldwide attention for GHR Foundation and reflects Amy's profile as a thought-leader within the philanthropic community. It has given her a platform to speak on purposeful experimentation, transparency in philanthropy and the need to rethink the traditional RFP process, and the importance of bridging – funding solutions that address the interconnected nature of social concerns and cut across geographic, racial, cultural and religious bounds.
Also in 2017, Amy helped guide GHR's $50 million gift to the University of St. Thomas. Intended to transform lives and communities, this was the largest scholarship gift in Minnesota's history.
In addition to her transformative leadership of GHR Foundation, Amy's philanthropic and community influence is exemplified by her current outside leadership experience, including director on The Opus Group's board, the University of St. Thomas Scholarship Initiative chair; Mayo Clinic Leadership Council member; U.S. Global Leadership Coalition MN Advisory Committee; Jesuit Refugee Committee International Development Group member; Marquette University Parent and Family Leadership Council member; BCMstrategy, Inc. Advisory Board member; Visitation School trustee; Georgetown University School of Foreign Service Board of Advisors member; University of St. Thomas trustee and vice chair; and Opus Holding, L.L.C. trustee.
We're very proud of our Team Opus honorees who are leading the way in their respective fields!