35 Under 35: Sondra Leyes, Director of Operations and Insurance Coordinator, Elevate Financial

Written by: Brady Drake

Tell us about yourself. Tell us who you are and what you do.

I am originally from Cottage Grove, MN, where I was raised by my parents with my younger sister. In the summer of 2010, I moved to Fargo, ND, and attended Concordia College. After receiving a double major in Communications and Sociology in 2013, I began working at Wells Fargo where my leadership skills flourished and I learned many life lessons. It was there I was fortunate enough to meet my husband, Giovanny. We got married five years later and have a baby girl, Layla who is our world at three-and-a-half years old. My family is my everything, they were my biggest supporters as I began at Elevate Financial in July of 2023. I started as an Executive Assistant and quickly moved into the Director of Operations role where I support all things operational and client-based. The work this firm does truly benefits our clients and our community. We cater to farmers, ranchers, and small business owners who are vital to our community. We understand that to our clients, it is more than finances, it is their life’s work and their family’s legacy. Our goal is to help their legacy grow in their way.

Who are some people who have been influential in your journey and why? Who inspires you?

My inspiration comes from my mother. She was never given a handout and worked multiple jobs to provide for our family. She overcame every obstacle she was faced with. Through her strength and perseverance, she started her own business, worked with my sister and me to conquer higher education, and now helps homeschool two of her grandchildren between working full time. Her passion, dedication, and hard work inspired me to put family first and make my family proud.

What drives you?

My family is my eternal driver, my world revolves around my daughter, Layla, and my loving and supportive husband, Giovanny. Without them, I would not be who I am.

What are some of your favorite things to do in our community?

Adding more family-friendly events and attractions would be beneficial for our community. Fargo Moms has done a great job sharing resources and ideas, along with EPIC construction investing in family-friendly builds that have been huge assets to our community that we could all work to build off of.

What are some important life lessons you have learned?

Life’s struggles are there so you know how truly lucky you are. This rang true when I was two months pregnant with my first child and looking to purchase my first home. I was laid off from a company that I worked for at that time for six years. Devastated and scared, I wasn’t sure what was to come. My colleagues and I worked hard to prove ourselves and we were asked to stay another four years. Which then landed me at Elevate Financial a dream job. Everything happens for a reason.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, I would love to say I’m thriving as a mom of a 13-year-old girl and celebrating 16 years of marriage with my husband in our home in South Fargo. Working with Elevate Financial, I am truly so blessed with our client base and the work we do. I genuinely hope to continue my work with Alex on leading the team and helping our clients succeed.

What are you hoping to gain from the United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program?

Through the United Way 35 Under 35 Program, I am looking forward to gaining more confidence in who I am, being proud of myself, and gaining a new support system and network of wonderful, talented, and powerhouse women.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of Fargo INC?

Put yourself first. You cannot pour from an empty cup and finding happiness for yourself, helps you bring so much more to your relationships and commitments.

Tell us about 1-2 books, podcasts, or professional development experiences that have changed the way you view leadership.

“How I Built This” by Guy Raz is an enlightening NPR podcast that tells the story of how entrepreneurs started and built what they have. Through this podcast, I have learned how to change the way in which people view you and your leadership goals. It must come from your desire to want to help others, not from superiority—from the ground up, you figure it out together. And that is a life lesson that has had numerous impacts on my life, both personally and professionally.

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