Bonnie Besse Reitz
President Atewologun awarded the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Bonnie Besse Rietz at the Riverland Community College commencement ceremony on May 15, 2015.
Bonnie Besse Rietz served 18 years in public service from 1989-2007 as Austin, Minnesota City Council member for eight years, Mayor for 10 years and president of three statewide organizations: League of Minnesota Cities, Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities and Minnesota Mayors Association. In these roles, she testified at the State Legislature, traveled the state and worked with city officials throughout Minnesota.
Bonnie holds a bachelor’s degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota where she was Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude. She has taught French at several different levels including as adjunct faculty at Riverland Community College from 1982-1997 (with a year off to return to Madagascar in 1983-1984).
Bonnie and her husband Tim worked as missionaries in Madagascar through the Evangelical Lutheran Church from 1974 to 1997 and 1983 to 1984. She taught English in a Malagasy high school and French at the American School. They have also volunteered in Cameroun, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru and Haiti.
She currently serves on the Riverland Community College Foundation Board of Directors, The Hormel Foundation Board of Directors (vice-chair), and the Blandin Foundation Board of Trustees.
Bonnie continues to be active in the community chairing or co-chairing the following organizations: Austin ArtWorks Festival, Apex Austin (diversity issues), Austin Area Drug Task Force and Austin Page Turners (city-wide book read).
She is a member of Vision 2020 Steering Committee, Rotary, AAUW, Leadership Austin and St. Olaf Lutheran Church. She also volunteers at the Austin ArtWorks Center.
Bonnie and Tim enjoy traveling, biking, jogging, cross-country skiing, reading and spending time with her 97 year-old mother, their three daughters, three sons-in-law and seven grandchildren.