Emily Kaiser, Community Outreach Coordinator, Down Home

Written by: Brady Drake

Tell us about yourself.

A native to the FM area, I grew up in Moorhead, MN (Go Spuds!) and graduated from the University of Mary with both my bachelor’s and MBA. My faith and heart for mission brought me to Down Home, and I am honored to serve as their Community Outreach Coordinator, spreading their great work across the FM area. My husband Nathan and I have been married for three years this June, and we love running after our 1-year-old son, James. When not working, I love spending time building my faith community and relaxing with my family at the lake. I thrive when I am on the move and you can usually find me organizing an upcoming gathering or enjoying a walk with my mom friends.

For the past three years, I had been working in the HR/Talent Development field. I was drawn to this type of work because I could focus on the people of the organization and empower them to learn and grow. Even though I was able to do this in a corporate environment, I knew my heart longed for more mission-driven work. I was introduced to Down Home and had the opportunity to work with them over the past year. I have worked with Down Home full-time since the start of this year (2023) and look forward to continuing to learn more in the nonprofit world.

What is important to you about the work that you do?

When I was first introduced to Down Home, I was struck by its unique mission and the individualized approach they take with each family they serve. We get to know the family, see the gift of our impact, and stay connected with them after the initial move-in. The way we serve illuminates the humanity of people experiencing homelessness. The people we serve at Down Home are our neighbors, our classmates and the people we walk by at the grocery store. They have the same desires we do; to provide a dignified, safe and purposeful life for their families. I believe our community is better when all have a dignified home and truly feel privileged to get to impact this in a small way.

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

My husband is my biggest supporter as well as my biggest challenger. He pushes me to go beyond my comfort zone and to say yes even when I am unsure. This support and encouragement has been incredibly influential in my journey as it has helped me to push myself to try things I never would have before. Even if it doesn’t go as planned, he helps me accept, adapt and overcome.

What drives you?

In all the different areas of my life, I am driven by helping others to see the goodness within themselves as well as cultivate the goodness in their community. By recognizing and building on the goodness we are all blessed with, we can grow into the best versions of ourselves, our organizations and our families.

What is your dream job and why?

I love sharing a message and inspiring an audience and would love to spend my days traveling as a motivational speaker and coach.

Do you have any book or podcast recommendations for our readers?

Unlocking Us by Brené Brown. On this podcast, Brené interviews a variety of authors about their work. I always find the interviews insightful and find great book recommendations.

When Helping Hurts by Steven Corbett. I read this book in college but the messages have stuck with me years later, on how to alleviate poverty without keeping people in poverty. Fascinating read if you are interested in mission work. \

The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. I read this book last year while on maternity leave and it transformed the way I think of event planning and hosting. As an avid gathering-goer and planner, this was a life-changing read.

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

As a WOO, I hope I can connect with every other woman in the group. It is such a diverse, talented, authentic group of women and I truly feel honored to hear their stories, learn from their expertise and grow from experiences.

Is there anything else you would like to say to the readers of Fargo INC! magazine?

Through my work with Down Home, I have been able to witness the incredible generosity and support of the FM community. I hope that our community will continue to support the people who are most in need and remember to support the people right in their own backyard. We are all connected. When our community is strong, supported and stable, all of us are better.

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