- United Way Investor and Volunteer
- Volunteer on the United Way Community Investment Committee
- United Way Emerging Leader
What is one lesson you have learned? How did you learn it?
You can make a difference. Read a favorite children’s storybook to a group of young children at a daycare. Their smiles become yours. Be a lunchroom buddy to a student at the elementary school. Let them know someone cares. Deliver a hot meal to a lonely house bound senior and stay a few minutes to listen to a story.
They matter. Start a neighborhood bike shop and teach the kids how to fix bikes. Teach a skill. Start a non-perishable drive with your office mates and donate the items to a local food pantry. A family will go to sleep with full stomachs. Donate your time and help provide a roof overhead to a family through Home for Habitat. Help plant vegetables at a neighborhood garden. Find your passion and strengths and make a difference.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My parents are hardworking people. Dad worked three jobs and my mom worked two when I was young.
My dad vowed to provide a better childhood to us than his. He did whatever it took to get the job done.
I grew up knowing that helping others was an important part of who I am. My family opened their home to those that needed it. They sponsored children from Mexico. I volunteered at a nursing home. These life experiences make me who I am as a leader. I am a servant leader. I work smart. Helping others become a better version of themselves fuels me. I sincerely care about those that I interact with.
What advice do you have for women trying to build their professional careers?
Find a mentor or a coach. It can be a leader within your company or an outside source. Be open to learning every day. Read Read Read. There are so many great books available. The United Way Emerging Leaders program is a talented group that all should join. Attend leadership conferences. Learn through experiences. Also, know that there will be ebbs and flows with your family time and career. At times your career will require more of your time. And other times, the family will need you. And it’s ok. Understand it’s a blend. No shame. No guilt. Be present in the moment.
You recently retired from Scheels after 30+ years – as you look back, what do you wish you knew when you started?
I didn’t have a mentor/coach at the beginning of my career and it took me a bit before I got the courage to find one. It wasn’t until I attended a Scheels Women’s Leadership Summit and heard all the amazing speakers share their stories that I told myself – I want to share my story. So this late bloomer found a coach and never looked back. She helped me acknowledge that I’m a servant leader and I have value. She pushed me to tell my story.
How did your experience as a United Way volunteer impact and change your outlook on the community?
If you haven’t participated in the United Way “A Day in the Life Perspective on Poverty,” I suggest that you do. The event is an interactive experience that immerses you in the life of someone who is living in poverty. It allows you to go through real-life scenarios in the role of someone living in poverty – you take on their identity and live life and make decisions giving the experience of being the shoes of someone who lives in poverty day today. I learned so much about our community and how there are thousands of people who need assistance and the decisions and struggles they face. I have a new appreciation for those that are doing everything they can to have a better life. For themselves and their children. And I want to be a part of that. I want to be a part of the solution to the challenges they face and will do whatever it takes to get the job done, and that is exactly what United Way does.