Zoe Absey, Community Initiatives Manager, Great Plains Food Bank

Written by: Brady Drake

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

I consider Fargo my hometown after moving here at a young age. I graduated from Fargo South and pursued elementary education at the University of North Dakota. My experiences include working in Minneapolis and serving in the Peace Corps in Rwanda for two years. After returning to Fargo, I completed my master’s program through Boston University while advancing my career and community involvement here. Currently, I am the Community Initiatives Manager at Great Plains Food Bank, focusing on addressing the root causes of food insecurity.

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

My family and partner have been my steadfast supporters, encouraging me through challenges and cheering on my new ventures. They’ve taught me the values of independence, caring for others, and embracing life fully.

What drives you?

Our community drives me. Working alongside passionate individuals daily makes this work rewarding. I aim to contribute to making our community a place where everyone has what they need to succeed and be healthy.

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

Our local businesses, which support our work through volunteering and donations, could benefit from educating their staff about community needs and considering their impact on the community.

What are some important life lessons you have learned?

Take risks, step out of your comfort zone, and approach life with curiosity and a readiness to listen and learn.

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

I enjoy cross-country skiing on city trails, exploring downtown, connecting with our community, and enjoying live music at local venues.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope to be deeply involved in addressing systemic issues, creating more equitable and inclusive systems for all, and having a larger garden.

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

I aim to discover my strengths as a leader and use them to make a greater impact. I’m excited to connect with and learn from other inspiring women in the program.

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