Danielle Smith, Learning & Development Systems Administrator, Western State Bank

Written by: Brady Drake

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

Hello! My name is Danielle Smith, and I am 35 years old. I reside in Fargo with my Husband Brian, our two sons Cohen (9), Henrik (6), our two dogs Letta and Baxter, and Butter the Bearded Dragon… yup I said Bearded Dragon! I have the pleasure of working at Western State Bank as the Learning & Development Systems Administrator. I have worked for Western for over seven years in a few different roles. But I am proud to say that I am in MY role, the one that fits my passions, strengths, and needs within the company. I truly love what I do.

There are two areas of volunteering I am passionate about. I serve on the board for the ND Chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ND ATD) as VP of Programming Administration. I have also been volunteering for many years for Junior Achievement.

Outside of work, you will find me with family, friends, or traveling. Summers are for lake time and neighborhood fun, and winters are for hockey! Could I sound any more Midwestern?

Another thing I take seriously is self-care and recognizing what fills my cup in other ways. One of those is traveling with my very best friends! Every year we choose a new city to celebrate us and refill that cup! I have also been known to do some pretty big adventurous things like picking up our family and moving across the country to Arizona to try out a new city! Even though we made our way back to the frozen tundra, it was an experience that would never trade!

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

I feel I have had so many influential people in my life and journey to who I am today. From my grandparents to my parents to immediate family and friends, teachers, and coworkers along the way. I have been able to soak in pieces from every one of them and they have all had an effect on who I am today. I most recently had the opportunity to learn and grow from an incredible leader. Someone who was able to pick ‘Danielle’ back up, show me who I truly was, and the effect and impact I can have on those around me. She gave me transparency, vision, and support to let me be confident and grow!

What drives you?

The opportunity to create and improve things. I find myself to be naturally curious to learn how things work and the why behind it. Futuristic is one of my top talents with Strengths Finder, which means I often lean towards asking ‘What if.’

What do you think can be improved in our business community?

Our focus has been on revitalizing our downtown area and it truly has become a community spot. I would love to see more of that come into the South Fargo area. We have a very business and restaurant centric focus in this area of town, and I think there is so much opportunity to be had with community events, farmers markets, and gathering/play spaces.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I want to feel harmony in the stage I’m in and confidence in what’s next. This stage of life has been about building. Building my relationships, my family, and my career. In 10 years, I hope to be able to say I have achieved harmony between my career and life. My role in my institution is brand-spank-in’ new! This means there is so much opportunity that I know will be met with many challenges and I am so here for it! I also have two young boys with whom I strive to be present and engaged. In 10 years, we will be close to being empty nesters… I hope to be confident in what comes in that next stage of life.

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

I hope to gain knowledge, perspective, and a new community of women who strive to grow themselves and lift one another up. I love the way this program has structured these sessions and the variety of skills we have the opportunity to learn alongside a diverse group of women with a common goal. It just amplifies what you can learn by surrounding yourself with so many different perspectives.

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