Katie Mattis Sarver leads Bell Bank’s efforts to assist neighborhoods, minority-owned businesses and nonprofit organizations in financially underserved areas in the newly created role of community development officer.

Mattis Sarver joined Bell in August after two and a half years as an executive team member and senior vice president for corporate partnerships with the Minnesota United Football Club and Allianz Field.

Mattis Sarver works with Bell’s executive leadership, its outreach task forces and community leaders to develop relationships in local markets to help increase bankability for businesses and individuals and support minority homeownership. Neighborhoods damaged in protests following George Floyd’s death and hard hit by COVID-19 are a focus.

“All of this that’s happened in our world made me really think about what truly is important,” Mattis Sarver said. “This opportunity with Bell presented itself and it seemed like the perfect fit.”

Before joining Bell, Mattis Sarver got to know the bank as a customer and in representing Minnesota United in its partnership with Bell, which sponsors a stadium gate.

Mattis Sarver, a Hamline University graduate, was twice named Major League Soccer Executive of the Year for corporate partnerships, once with Minnesota United and earlier with the Real Salt Lake soccer club. She also has worked with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx in partnership and community relations roles.

“Katie’s role is to lead our efforts in fostering new community relationships through listening, building trust and finding ways to take action together,” Bell president and CEO Michael Solberg said in a news release.

Fargo-headquartered Bell, which is independently owned, has more than $8.2 billion in assets and operates in North Dakota, Minnesota and Arizona.

Q: What led to the creation of your role at Bell?

A: They had been talking about this role before this spring. The leadership team said how can we continue to best serve the communities we live in, work in and do business in? Bell’s Pay It Forward program gives employees $1,000 a year to give to individuals in need and charities of their choice — $16 million in 12 years. But how do we continue to intentionally and organically grow our efforts and make it known, especially in communities that may not know us as well, that Bell is about helping people?

Q: What led you to work in pro sports?

A: I love the pace of it, especially soccer. Soccer is about community. It really is something for everyone. When you walk the concourses of Allianz Field, you see four generations, three generations of families, all different colors, all different languages and that is what is so appealing to me about soccer.

Q: What has made you successful in forging partnerships and connections in business and personally?

A: I grew up in Anoka, one of eight kids. Four adopted kids and four “homemade” biological children. Two are Black, two Korean. I’m Korean. Life is different for everyone even if you are the same color. That has built a foundation for me to understand the walk is different for everyone and how can we use our strengths to do good. We experienced a lot of different hate crimes. We still have occurrences every day. If I can help people from a financial standpoint with a company that’s committed to doing some good, that’s an opportunity of a lifetime.


Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is todd_nelson@mac.com.