To positively influence a healthier community through enhanced philanthropy and collaboration.
Board of Directors & Staff
I want to be a part of the Portage Health Foundation because I strongly believe that now and in the future, the PHF has the ability to be a game changer in our community. I want to be a part of that change.
Through my life, I have sat on both sides of the table. I remember what it feels like to have to ask for help. It's hard. The change I envision is more than just a charitable band aid. I would like to see real solutions to the very real problems so many of us encounter throughout our lives. Our community has so much untapped potential and I want to be able to help be a part of the solution.
I was born and raised in Pelkie, MI. Although I left the area for over twenty years, this is where I chose to return. My heart and soul is planted firmly in the Copper Country. It is because of these deep roots, that I invest my time, talent and treasure. The PHF is an organization that I am invested in. I believe it will do some amazing things for our community. I see the PHF as a catalyst for change. I see it as an entity that will help to identify the healthcare needs of our community, and foster the needed innovative solutions.
Through a personal journey with my own health, I have discovered a holistic approach and would like to see that incorporated throughout the community. When I think of my community, I believe that economic, mental and physical health are all integrated to the wellbeing of the whole community. In the years to come, I see PHF making impactful progress in the community to make healthy choices accessible and available for all.
I came to this area as a student to Michigan Tech. It was here that I gained family roots to the community because my wife and I met my senior year. Throughout my professional hockey career, this was our home base. It wasn't until my hockey career was over that it truly became our home. We knew this was an amazing place to start and raise a family. I feel connected and invested to see this area grow because I want it to be even better for my kids. I was on the PHF board since it was started. I wanted to stay on as a board member because I knew that PHF was going to do some amazing things in the community and I wanted to be a part of the change. It is exciting to see the transformation PHF has gone through in the last few years. It has been a privilege to be a part of an organization that is pressing forward to drive change and positive impact in the community.
I believe when we are a part of a community, there is an ownership that comes with it. When we adopt the mindset of "our community," it changes the way we perceive and view it. It is because of this mentality that I want to give back. I believe I have a responsibility to use my time and talent to make this a better place, not only for my family, but for the community as a whole. I have a responsibility and an opportunity to be a part of something bigger that will spark change. My vision for PHF is big. I believe the potential is unlimited, and we have yet to fully grasp the depth and capacity PHF truly embodies. I also believe we can leverage more resources and people to create even more opportunities for this community. The possibilities are endless and we have yet to scratch the surface.
Bruce is the founder, past owner and past president of Rukkila, Negro & Associations, CPAs, P.C. located in Houghton. He has been a CPA for more than 30 years. He began his career with a regional accounting firm in 1977. He served as the County Finance Officer and Interim County Administrator for Marquette County for five years in the 1980s, returning to public accounting in 1986. Bruce gained his designation as a Certified Valuation Analyst in 1996 through the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts. Bruce owned and operated his accounting firm providing full audit, tax, accounting and small business consulting services for more than 30 years.
Bruce has a diverse background in both public and private industry, including small business audits, income tax and estate tax planning, small business structuring, projections and forecasts, business valuations, small business succession planning, and government and nonprofit entities. Bruce has performed valuations for retail and start-up companies, manufacturers, professional practices, divorces, for buying and selling businesses, family and non-family succession planning and estate planning, and gifting and others. Bruce is the current sole owner and employee of Business Transitions Plus, LLC, a small business consulting firm specializing in small business exit strategies and transitions.
Bruce has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Michigan Technological University and master’s degree in Business Administration from Northern Michigan University. He is an active member of The American Institute of Certified Public Accountant (AICPA), Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants (MACPA) and National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts (NACVA). He previously served as the president of Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce, Keweenaw Industrial Council (KEDA) and Houghton Business Association, served as the treasurer of the Keweenaw Community Foundation, was a board member of Range Bank, and served on the advisory board for the International School of Business at Finlandia University.
Bruce is a US Army Veteran. He served with the United Nations Honor Guard Command in Yongsan, South Korea in 1971-72 providing security and ceremonial duties for commanding generals of the U.S. Eight Army. Bruce is married to Patricia (Strang) Rukkila. They have three children and two grandchildren.
My father was passionate community volunteer who taught me the importance of generosity, grace and giving back. I aspire to the high bar he set. I feel fortunate to have chosen a profession that provides many opportunities to utilize my work expertise within volunteer endeavors. Professionally, I have worked as a critical care nurse, medial educator and flight nurse for over 30 years. As an international volunteer I've worked in several developing countries, most recently Nepal during their earthquake. Locally, I've participated with the Red Cross, Houghton Rotary, and assisted with the acquisition and distribution of AED's. Currently, I co-direct an emergency preparedness program for area youth, and our community crisis/stress management response team. In my interactions over the years with patients and their families, I have witnessed a dramatic increase in their medical and mental health needs as well as an alarming deterioration in the effectiveness and availability of core local services to treat these life altering mental/medical health issues. I am very excited to be a part of the PHF's vision, mission and engaged governing board. I fully believe the PHF has the commitment and tools to effect a positive, sustaining impact on the mental and physical health and wellbeing of all our community members. I am grateful for this opportunity to play a role in the development of creative solutions, community service collaborations, and individual partnerships that together will facilitate peace of mind, body and spirit today, and for generations to come.
I enjoy learning about the organizations in our community: their mission, the people, and the cause. I am excited to be a part of PHF with its capability and resources to make a significant impact on not only our community, but these organizations. It is very rewarding to be able to function as an organization that can actually support the needs within the community. I have deep roots within the community: my parents, grandparents and great grandparents. I returned after having lived away after graduating from Michigan Tech. My bond with this community and its people is solid and will always remain that way.
I am passionate about giving back. My time and talent are my ways of serving and helping the community and PHF. Looking into the future for PHF, I see us continuing to invest in identifying the diverse amount of need in the community. By continuing to educate ourselves and be students of our environment, we can be a great asset to the people of this area. There is so much significant need that we still do not realize exists. I would like to see the PHF continue to partner with organizations and collaborate in areas where we can bring large scale and sustainable solutions, not only through monetary actions, but through support and advocacy.
My roots in this community run 4 generations deep. Grandparents, parents, my children and I have spent our lives in this special place. Family members owned businesses here since the early part of last century and my husband and I have owned businesses here since 1974.
This area holds my heart. It offers more than most rather remote areas in education, recreation, safety and "community." In spite of all of it's positive aspects, it falls short in areas that I believe can be improved upon.
I was part of Portage Health Foundation's board of directors before the sale of the hospital and understood it's value to the community. The "new" foundation had even more potential. Being a part of this revised foundation would give me a unique opportunity to contribute to my community in an even more important and dramatic way. If there was a place for me on this restructured Portage Health Foundation Board, I knew I wanted to stay involved.
What's happened since then, inspires me to stay engaged. As I've learned more about the issues we face locally, and met dedicated, caring community leaders, I'm motivated even more to participate with my time, talent and energy to facilitate positive change. My vision for Portage Health Foundation is collaboration and contributing relationships among businesses, municipalities, non-profits, citizens, other foundations. With all of this energy working toward a common good, we are sure to make a BIG difference.
As the PHF was making its transition after the sale of the hospital, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I saw the potential it embodied and knew that it was going to do some amazing things. To support the health needs of the community provides a lot of potential that we could experience at PHF. Even more than seeing the potential, I believed in PHF. I believed in its mission. By supporting the health needs of the community, we are supporting their deepest needs. We are supporting them. To be a part of an organization like PHF is such a privilege because of the chances it gives me to make a real impact on the community.
Volunteering my time and talent comes from a passion to help people. Throughout the stages of my life, I have been helped by so many people. Their influence, guidance, help, and encouragement in my life has pushed me to give back and volunteer my time, talent and treasure. It is my way of paying it forward. It is also an empathy for people in need and facing challenges that also motivate me to give back. If I can make a difference in one person's life, I know it was all worth it. My life experiences are a driving factor of why I do what I do.
This community is my home. I'm not originally from here but my career and livelihood is here. I have been in the education system here. These experiences connect me to this community in a unique way. I have worked with young students, families, those with mental handicaps, administrative capacities, vocational education and I could go on. These experiences have given me insights to the needs in our community. Difficulties families face, their children's struggles, the importance of education on every level all drive my connection here and also drive my desire to give back. These experiences have made a lasting impact on my life and I want to use them to reach others and better this community.
When I think about the vision of the PHF, I see positivity. I see a very bright future for not only the organization but the community it serves. We are starting to really dig deep into the systemic issues of the community and I know that we can continue to make a change for the better with more health initiatives. I see us really moving the needle with systemic health issues that are facing our area. We have the opportunity to support health programming through financial and advocacy.
The creation of the PHF is an opportunity to take this great community to the next level. With the amount of real money that flows directly back into the community from the PHF every year, we can truly make a significant impact on the lives of every member of the community. There are very few organizations that can have such a positive, wide ranging impact on a community. I am humbled and gratified to be part of such an impactful organization.
I was born and raised in the Copper Country and I am passionate about the area. I am fortunate to have a great career here and raise my family here. My wife and I feel that our six children are blessed to grow up in a community with such amazing people and endless natural beauty. With this opportunity comes a responsibility to help move the community forward and try to make it even better for the next generation.
My vision for the future and for the PHF lies with families, young adults and children. I envision the PHF providing more outreach and education opportunities for kids and young families to get outdoors, get moving, eat well, and be healthy. I envision the PHF getting more deeply involved with creating avenues for families to learn healthy eating options, the benefits of proper nutrition, and building a solid base for a lifelong knowledge of nutrition, exercise, and overall wellness. By helping to facilitate healthy nutrition and recreation habits in our young adults and children, the PHF can make a lasting impact on an entire generation.
I wanted to be part of the Portage Health Foundation because I believe the foundation was created with the ability and insight to be a positive influence in regards to health and wellness within the communities of the five counties within the west end of the Upper Peninsula. It is exciting for me to have the ability to share input from the educational community in regards to student physical and emotional needs.
I was born Marquette and raised in Ontonagon. Graduated with a bachelor's degree in Health and Physical Education from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Earned my Master's Degree in Educational Administration from Grand Valley State University. This is my 21st year in education with the Ontonagon Area School District.
Through my involvement in athletics and outdoor physical activity, I have been the recipient of and have witnessed the extreme generous, caring nature of friends and community members throughout the Upper Peninsula. It will be an honor to serve as a Portage Health Foundation representative and have the ability to be part of their innovation and creative means of giving back to communities to improve health and wellness initiatives.
I grew up in a time when the UP was thriving economically. I truly believe that many of our communities are on the brink of taking the necessary steps and making changes that will bring them back to economic stability. The Portage Health Foundation has the vision and resources to continue to be an important catalyst for the positive change.
Portage Health Foundation has intrigued me from its inception. A unique creature of Michigan law, this foundation began with significant resources pledged solely to work toward improved health in the community. This gives an unusual opportunity to the four-county area which few similar, rural communities enjoy.
My work has spread over direct patient care in EMS, and administrative roles in hospital and public health worlds. My instincts and education are analytical and drawn toward evidence-based solutions. I have lived in the area for most of my life and been fortunate to serve with a number of community service and charitable organizations. These elements of my background align smoothly with PHF’s charge and approach to its work, and I am honored to work with this board and staff because of the unique PHF ability to improve public health in the area we so appreciate.
But what impressed me most about the foundation is what sets it apart from other philanthropic entities: its vision and drive. I have come to understand the PHF philosophy, and the drive of the board and staff to be a profound force for change in the community. PHF does more than distribute funds. Crucially, it employs its strategic outlook and philanthropic depth to drive new collaborations in the community and leverage the power of the community to achieve transformative change. PHF aims to do more than write checks, even more than nurture better personal health. It wants to set the tone and conditions which will lead to improved health for the community as a whole. It is the guidepost for transformation in our community.
I was born and raised in Ontonagon, Michigan, and moved to the Keweenaw in the late 90s with my family. My family goes back to antiquity here. Having been a life-long resident of the Copper Country, this community is of great importance to me - it is my home!
I am glad to be an idealist and I know that I bring a big-picture perspective to the table. I prefer to apply energy and resources into what is the ideal rather than accepting or working to sustain simply "what is."
I also recognize the importance of being an incrementalist. I not only realize the need to take things in step, but have been told that I have the ability to break complex issues down into manageable action steps that work towards the "ideal" outcome. That is my obligation - to be effective at solving some of the systemic challenges we face in our community. I want to be able to apply my skillsets towards addressing the needs of our community; to support the work of so many others, and to drive the foundation to be an effective partner in making this a healthier community for everyone.
I have held leadership positions throughout my life and from all aspects of my career from which I have been able to grow personally and professionally. I believe this helps me bring a unique perspective to PHF. It is through these experiences that I have gained an intimate understanding of the struggles our community faces. I have worked with adjudicated youth; developed vocational education and job training programs; designed new and creative work programs and business opportunities for cognitively impaired and mentally ill adults; witnessed firsthand the challenges facing our populations' health; and collaborated with human service providers across state and local sectors to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable people.
These life experiences have molded me into who I am today and they grew my connection with this community. Having a deeper understanding of the inner workings of the non-profit sector gives me a deeper appreciation and respect for the work they do and the services they provide to our community. This community is my family and it gives me a greater sense of purpose to ensure the work we are doing at PHF has meaning and is impactful.
It is intended that we will be able to look back upon our work at the foundation and within the community and recognize the changes we have been able to incite as we work towards building a healthier community for all of our citizenries. We will be able to realize the fruits of our labor, not through immediate gratification of transactional grants that may meet a need and wants of today, but rather through the long-term transformational lens from which we are evaluating our reinvestment in hopes of creating a more prosperous and healthy community for its children of tomorrow.