Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography and Paul Flessland.
We like to think of the Fargo business community as a giant puzzle and the people who comprise it as the different but equally essential pieces. Take one person, one company, or one industry away, and the picture becomes incomplete. Faces of Fargo Business is our chance to piece that puzzle together each month and celebrate the countless people who make this such a great place to work.
Public Affairs Director, Sanford Health
If you’ve never heard of Dave Anderson, maybe you know him better by his alliterative moniker, “Downtown Dave.”
Chosen 17 years ago as president of the then-newly established Downtown Community Partnership, Anderson was an instrumental part of the revitalization of Downtown Fargo (hence the nickname), leading the organization’s efforts to help transform Downtown into the bustling, lively place it has now become.
While he’s called Portland, Seattle, Austin, Houston, and Washington, D.C., home over the years, it was actually a short stint early in his career at the chamber of commerce in Sioux City, Iowa, that initially got him interested in a career aimed at community service and development.
“Though it was only two years,” says Anderson, who is also actively involved with the FMWF Chamber, FM Symphony, Moorhead Business Association (MBA) and the Arts Partnership, “my time at the (Sioux City) chamber set me on my career path in public affairs, lobbying, community involvement and helping to make a difference in my community.”
While he got out of the downtown economic development game in an official capacity in 2009—accepting the role of public affairs director at Sanford Health following its merger with MeritCare—he’s recently been volunteering his energy and expertise on the other side of the river, as Moorhead hopes to see a similar revitalization of its downtown.
What “Downtown Dave” Is Up to Now
While now in a different capacity than during his time with the Downtown Community Partnership, Sanford Health Public Affairs Director Dave Anderson is still using his position to facilitate and connect.
“Whether it’s connecting businesses; civic organizations; local governments; or good, plain, everyday FM-area folks,” Anderson says, “these connections lead to community projects, partnerships for improved health and healthy lifestyles, sponsorships of great civic events or simply to answer questions or provide ideas.
“A good share of effort in recent years has been as a member of the teams that have proposed and built a new clinic in Moorhead, the new Sanford Fargo Medical Center in Fargo and a new clinic project in West Fargo.”
“I have this free period in my day that I call my office time. Sometimes I’ll have a conference call, or I’ll answer emails.”
For Bridget McManamon, this may have been the only hour of downtime she would get during her junior year at Moorhead High.
The 17-year-old’s time is invested in starting Herstory, a “social movement idea” geared toward the needs of women.
“It’s a nonprofit that seeks to empower women through increasing access to hygiene products, especially focused on middle and high schools in our area,” McManamon says. “I’ve always been into gender equality and women’s issues so finding out about the huge scope of this problem internationally—and also in our community—really struck me.”
In June of last year, McManamon attended a leadership event in New York.
“We were mentored, and I was given a lot of inspiration about what kind of project I wanted to do,” she says.
She obtained a grant through the program to create Herstory.
In the fall, she found out about the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) program. She competed through the program for funding and was chosen to move on to the semi-finals. McManamon was recently in New York to participate in that competition. There, she gave her three-minute pitch to judges and an audience. McManamon didn’t advance but said it was a great experience. “People seemed to enjoy and were inspired by my idea, finding it to be a need we don’t always think about addressing,” she says.
McManamon will bring local attention to Herstory in July, speaking at TEDxFargo.
“I’m excited to share my ideas and create awareness,” she says.
In addition to Herstory, McManamon stays involved in school with speech, theater, choir and key club. Senior year will be just as busy, as she just became the captain of the speech team, vice president of key club and will be in the fall musical. She also works at the Moorhead Dairy Queen.
This summer, along with TEDxFargo, McManamon is looking forward to attending speech nationals and doing college tours.
“I am looking at possibly an all-female school, like Barnard College in New York City, but we’ll see what happens.”
Ambassador, Ainsley’s Angels
As the parent of a child with a disability, Christine Hamre knows all too well the feelings of loneliness and exclusion that can accompany life after a diagnosis.
“Individuals with disabilities and their families often find themselves isolated,” says Hamre, whose youngest daughter, Samantha, was diagnosed with non-verbal autism seven years ago, “and in my opinion, that isn’t ok.”
Hamre says that, for years, she looked for a disability-related cause to get involved with, and when a couple years ago she discovered Ainsley’s Angels, a national organization that, with the help of adaptive chairs and volunteer runners, helps ensure that everyone can experience endurance running events, it was a perfect match.
“Running has done so much for me physically, mentally, and emotionally,” says Hamre, who, upon realizing that no one else in Fargo-Moorhead offered a similar service, was eager to bring the Ainsley’s Angels mission to the area.
“I’m fortunate that I can run, and I want to help bring the experience to those who cannot. I strongly believe that we all benefit as a society when everyone is included and given opportunities.
“I also love that Ainsley’s Angels gives families the opportunity to participate in activities together—opportunities that can be few and far between when a loved one is living with a disability.”
With chapters in more than 25 states and more than 50 cities, Ainsley’s Angels has developed an extensive, nationwide network and, led by Hamre, will be hosting its first event in the Red River Valley in Moorhead on July 1.
Ainsley’s Angels 5K
Ainsley’s Angels – Red River Valley’s inaugural event will be held in Moorhead on July 1. The race starts at 7 a.m. at Bethesda Lutheran Church and is open to anyone who wants to walk, run or roll. They’ll have plenty of running strollers and pushers available for those with disabilities. You can register for the race at Chronotrack.com/r/26386
Ainsley’s Angels – Red River Valley | AinsleysAngels.org
You can donate to Ainsley’s Angels – Red River Valley online at CrowdRise.com/AAinRedRiverValley or mail donations to Ainsley’s Angels of America:
P.O. Box 6287
Virginia Beach, VA 23456
(In memo line, please write “AA in Red River Valley”)