Bremer continues DEI push

Stephen Spears

Minnesota’s Bremer Bank has continued its push to improve racial equity, announcing several promotions and new hires.

Stephen Spears joined the St. Paul-based bank in December as a senior vice president. He will help lead efforts to establish a greater presence serving the BIPOC community. He will also further Bremer’s declared commitment to strengthen its focus on affordable housing and mortgage lending. Previously with First Security Bank & Trust, Charles City, Iowa, and Old National, Evansville, Ind., Spears has a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo.

Tiyo Symalla

Also in December, Bremer promoted Tiyo Symalla to a new position as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader. Symalla will drive Bremer’s DEI strategies to cultivate inclusive outcomes in Bremer’s workplace, workforce and marketplace. Additionally, Symalla will provide leadership and coordination of Bremer’s vendor relationships as Bremer realizes its commitment to contract with diverse suppliers. Previously with Baker Hughes, Symalla has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Colorado Technical University, Colorado Springs, and a master’s degree in HR and industrial relations from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

In January, Bremer  hired DJ Gohl Bergeron as its talent acquisition lead on the talent acquisition DEI team, responsible for overseeing the buildout of the talent acquisition team and recruiting process at the bank. Gohl Bergeron will work with Bremer’s leaders and managers to rethink how the organization attracts, assesses and acquires talent in ways that connect with and recruit from diverse talent pools. Previously with U.S. Bank, Thomson Reuters and Target, Gohl Bergeron has a Bachelor of Arts degree in business from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, and master’s degree in organizational management and HR from Concordia University, St. Paul.

DJ Gohl Bergeron

Gohl Bergeron and Symalla will serve under Colette Campbell, who in October was promoted to Bremer’s senior executive team in a newly created role as senior vice president, talent acquisition and diversity, equity and inclusion. They are Bremer’s first talent acquisition and DEI team leaders as the new department begins to grow.

In 2020, Bremer committed two executive staff members to join what is now called the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity to advocate for racial and social justice in the business community. The coalition has refined its work since its launch last year, aiming to use foundational structures and resources to accelerate progress toward economic mobility and prosperity, working in partnership with Black Minnesotans.

The bank also outlined other goals in continuance of its DEI action plan:

  • Integrating DEI goals into KPIs: In 2021, Bremer is integrating the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals into its defined key performance indicators, ensuring that DEI is an intrinsic part of how the company measures its success.
  • Diversity council: Led by Symalla, Bremer will establish an internal diversity council, responsible for working with Bremer leaders to better understand the diverse talent landscape, to establish goals and to develop strategies with a DEI lens. 
  • Diversity supplier program: Bremer will create an official diversity supplier program also led by Symalla, who will help establish Bremer’s vendor connections as Bremer commits to expanding its relationships with diverse suppliers.

Bremer joins a growing list of banks committing to improve their DEI profiles, including Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank, which announced its own slate of initiatives last month.