21 Women Making An Impact: Tracy Jorde, Principal Architect, JLG Architects

Written by: Brady Drake
  • United Way Volunteer and Investor
  • Architect of new United Way building
  • United Way Employee Campaign Coordinator

What is one lesson you have learned? How did you learn it?

That true success has nothing to do with a job title, a corner office or any of the other stereotypical success measures that we’ve all been taught to strive for. To me, true success is found in the relationships that I invest time in and nurture, as well as the relationships that have unexpectedly popped out of seemingly nowhere and yet have brought so much value to my life. When my clients become my friends, that is when I know that I have found professional success in a meaningful way, in a way that doesn’t need a measure. My life has simply become so much richer and more fulfilled once I realized this.

What advice do you have for women trying to build their professional careers?

“You can’t control if you are the smartest person in the room, and you can’t control if you are the most talented person in the room, but you can control if you are the kindest person in the room.”

I remember being told this early in my career and it has always stuck with me. I don’t know when there became an association of kindness and weakness, but it couldn’t be any farther from the truth. I firmly believe that when kindness is integrated with integrity and compassion, it is one of the most powerful and effective tools that we have to use as we walk through life.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for women in the workplace?

I believe that we are still fundamentally struggling with this idea of creating a perfect work/life balance and that when it feels out of alignment that we are somehow not living up to expectations. After this past year of working from home while my kids were home, it has never been more apparent to me that it’s not about the quantity of time, but the quality of time. I still have to remind myself occasionally to put my phone away when my kids are talking to me and to really focus on what is being said right in front of me. It seems so incredibly simple, yet we’ve been programmed to be available to the world 24/7. I believe that if we really get honest about our priorities and how we are spending our time, we’ll find that we have far more time available to us, we just have to align it more intentionally to our values.

You were a leader who helped build the new United Way building, how will the project impact the community?

The new United Way building was designed around the concept of “Reaching Out”. While you can see that there are literal expressions of that in the architectural design, we knew that that was fundamentally the overarching goal of the project, reaching out to the community. This building is essentially a communication tool for United Way to serve our community with a larger reach and at a greater capacity and so we designed the building such that it can offer the utmost in flexibility and can adapt to the needs of all those that United Way is working with and serving.

Why did JLG Architects want to partner with United Way on building their new building?

After the very first conversation that I had with Kristi Huber regarding the vision and goals of United Way in our community, I knew that something special was about to happen and that I wanted to help in any way that I could. My passion is helping clients design spaces that inspire them and allow them to thrive in a way that they couldn’t have even dreamed possible and so I knew that this was going to be an incredibly fun and rewarding challenge with the United Way team. However, as wonderful as that was, I also knew that this was a chance for the JLG team to give back to our community in a very tangible and impactful way. So, my team and I got the opportunity to dream with United Way on how a new building could help them serve the community in a better way, a bigger way, and a more impactful way. We got to dream with them about how to bless people’s lives now and for years to come… how incredible is that?

So, while I pray that we achieved (above and beyond!) all of the building-related goals that we set out to accomplish, I also pray that United Way knows how much of a tremendous impact that they have had on my team and I and that they know how immensely blessed we are by them!

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.