Flor Treviño Frey brings corporate, nonprofit and entrepreneurial experience as well as a distinct personal perspective to her new role as senior director of the Frey Foundation of Minnesota.

Treviño Frey is the first third-generation family member to join the foundation's management team. Eugene Frey, retired head of the Waldorf Corp., a St. Paul-based box and packaging manufacturer, and his wife, Mary founded the foundation in 1988.

A former 3M marketing manager, Treviño Frey, who earned an MBA from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, began her career with the American Cancer Society. She and husband, Peter Frey, operate Yoga Sol, a pay-what-you-can studio in northeast Minneapolis, which they opened in 2012.

The Frey Foundation of Minnesota's mission of supporting nonprofits working in affordable housing, education and health and human services is particularly meaningful to Treviño Frey.

"I grew up in a Spanish-speaking household," the Texas native said. "I'm a first-generation college graduate in this country. I understand firsthand how these issues impact people day to day and am in a position to be a leader in this space and make a real impact."

Treviño Frey is focusing on long-term strategy and new opportunities for the foundation, which made grants and donations from donor advised funds of more than $2 million in 2018.

She also is working with second-generation management on a leadership transition as president and CEO James Frey retires in June and his sister, Carol Frey Wolfe continues as vice president, program manager and director.

The Frey Foundation of Minnesota is part of a pilot program announced Friday to preserve 600 affordable homes in partnership with Sunrise Banks, Aeon, the Minneapolis Foundation and the St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation.

In December, the Frey Foundation of Minnesota contributed $700,000 to the Minnesota Homeless Fund, which has raised nearly $5 million to boost emergency shelter capacity statewide.

At 3M, Treviño Frey led an innovation team that developed Scotch Flex & Seal Shipping Roll, a flexible, cushioned self-adhesive material designed as an alternative to boxes, which Time magazine named among 2019's 100 best inventions.

Q: What can you share about the new affordable-housing preservation program?

A: It's the first of its kind in the country. For the recipient, the primary benefit is access to capital at a lower rate.

For funders, the benefit is it's not just a grant.

There's going to be repayment that can be recycled for other charitable purposes.

So it amplifies what we're already doing in affordable housing.

Q: How does the foundation approach giving?

A: We conduct deep due diligence on the front end. Once organizations are vetted and we decide to fund them we give substantial gifts as a multiyear approach.

We see ourselves as partners in empowering organizations to help them propel their work forward. We tend to lean toward organizations that are pushing the envelope, thinking differently, taking bold moves.

Q: What applies most to this role from your previous experiences?

A: Data is a big trend now in philanthropy. How do we measure outcomes for our partners?

At 3M we used data in everything, to make decisions, to drive our strategy. So I'm bringing some of that here without losing the heart too. What's ironic is that my job was to make boxes disappear and my grandfather-in-law's job was to make boxes.

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