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2016-17 Leadership Class Unveils Community Change Initiatives

January 3rd, 2017 by Amanda Huggett

The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo community is known for many things, but two qualities that we take the most pride in are our innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, which is exactly why the LFMWF class spent their December session focusing on these topics. Graciously hosted at the FARGODOME, we started our day off flexing the innovative parts of our brains with Max Kringen, CEO of Tellwell. He guided us through interactive activities that were not only entertaining, but also allowed the participants to think creatively to solve a new problem and think about things in creative ways – skills that are imperative to being a successful leader.

Chamber Leadership group

We switched gears to entrepreneurship in the afternoon where we heard from Katie Ralston, The Chamber, on the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. Next came a panel of local entrepreneurs who shared how they are thinking big. Dan Hurder, Great Plains Hospitality, Paula Klein, Smartt Interior Construction, Nathan Severson, Severson, Wogsland & Liebl PC and Andy Maier, Maier Farms, shared their entrepreneurial stories and answered questions from the class on taking the leap, building a customer base, creating a team of employees and what success really means to them.

To finish the day, we headed downtown to sample a few of Proof Artisan Distillers locally made beverages.

Special thanks to Rob Sobolik of the FARGODOME for providing the tour of the facility.

2016-17 Community Change Initiatives

One major component of the Leadership class is for groups to collaborate on Community Change Initiative projects. Check out what this year’s participants have been busy working on, and how it will help the metro below!


Home for Good

Donna Block, Enclave; Erik Stenehjem, First International Bank and Trust; Jenna Studt, Flint Group; Jordan Cook, Choice Financial; Rob Riness, Mortenson Construction

The focus of our initiative is to help those who are vulnerable to being homeless find a “home for good.” We will work on bridging the gap from social/non-profit organizations that focus on homelessness and the housing industry. We will create a presentation and panel for the Greater Red River Valley Apartment Association to educate the property management companies on the benefits of working with the FM Homeless Coalition. In the presentation, we will ask for those interested to join a network of those committed to reducing homelessness in the F-M area. Our goal is to also provide a pamphlet as a resource to those in the systems of jail or treatment centers that would provide contacts from different property management companies and give them hope of finding their home for good.


Foster Kids

Chad Brousseau, Cass County Electric Cooperative; Chelsey Agather, Discovery Benefits; Dave Bietz, Fargo Park District; Jennifer Swenson, TMI Hospitality; Sam Wheeldon, John Deere Electronic Solutions; Tim Stokka, Gate City Bank

Our project is focused on foster children and the families that care for and love them. We have been meeting with foster parents, non-profit groups, and government organizations on what the needs are for these families and what is currently provided. We are exploring a couple of avenues where a need has been identified.

The first would be to provide a duffle bag that the children can put their belongings into when they are removed from the home. This bag could also contain clothing items, socks and underwear, toys, a blanket, toiletries, etc. The second need is a refresh of the Cass County visitation room where the children visit their birth families, and provide new paint, furnishings, games and toys.

Our goal over the next two weeks is to decide where we can make the most impact and successfully help the children and families.


Team Go Green

Adam Ruud, Houston Engineering; Andy Erickson, Kinetic Leasing, Inc.; Kelly Napoli, Obermiller Nelson Engineering, Inc.; Kelsey Erbes, Eide Bailly LLP; Kevin Mehrer, Boy Scouts of America; Matt Gruchalla, Bell Bank

Team Go Green will support the city of Fargo in marketing and informing city residents of the upcoming conversion to single-sort recycling. Single-sort recycling is a system in which all paper fibers, plastics, metals and other containers are mixed in one collection truck, rather than having to be handled separately. Single-sort recycling will take place in the city of Fargo starting in July 2017. Team Go Green will collaborate with the city in their effort of educating Fargo residents of this conversion through town hall forums, billboards, social media, literature and other forms of communication.


Experience F-M

Amanda Even, Dress for Success Red River Valley; Amanda Maslowski, U.S. Bank; Caitlin Stoecker, The Village Family Service Center; Chantel Carlson, United Way of Cass-Clay; Mitch Johnson, Minnesota State University Moorhead

We learned through our research that the Fargo-Moorhead area currently retains on average 30% of graduates from the three major institutions: Concordia, MSUM and NDSU. The Regional Workforce Study projects over 30,000 job openings in the area in the next five years. There is a huge opportunity to leverage the 70% of students that leave our community post-graduation. Our goal is to increase the area workforce by retaining local higher-education students through community engagement. Our objectives include creating an enrollment-based program for students, presenting them with meaningful volunteering and community-based opportunities and providing a communication platform for the group to disseminate and receive information. We are excited to partner with local community organizations and schools to kick off this program in 2017.


The World’s Table

Allyson Peterson, NDSU Development Foundation; Cortnee Jensen, Mind Shift; Maria Steen, Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership; Nikki Berglund, Bernie’s Wine & Liquors/Luna Fargo; Sarah Arntson, Dakota Medical Foundation; Teran Germscheid, Wimmer’s Diamonds

The World’s Table project aims to unite our community through one thing we all love: food. We are inviting leaders of various New American communities as well as long-time FMWF residents, to come together in the dining room. We’ll share a meal, experience cultural foods and get comfortable with each other in a safe environment. Hosts at each table will guide and encourage conversation and help develop relationships between groups of people – neighbors who live and work in the same cities but in different worlds – whose paths may not otherwise cross. We believe these connections will bring mutual benefits to everyone at the table, as well as the community at large. We strive to build bridges, one plate at a time.


Financial Planning

Jamie Grant, Microsoft; Kurt Lysne, Moore Engineering, Inc.; Paul Jarvis, United Capital; Shane Cullen, Park Company Realtor; Thomas Loegering, Wanzek; Toby Krone, Moorhead Police Department

Our CCI project is designed to provide financial training from well-qualified professionals to citizens in our area. Recognizing that financial planning is essential but often inaccessible, our goal is to educate community members on basic finance-related topics such as budgeting, estate planning, retirement, insurance, home buying and others. We will be offering up to six different classes during this one-day event with a keynote speaker to be determined. Certified Financial Planner™ professionals, along with other professionals, will be available for one-on-one advice on a variety of topics, and best of all, it’s free and there are no strings attached. Volunteering financial planners will not sell products or services, give out business cards or follow up with participants after the event. The financial planning day event will work in partnership with the Foundation for Financial planning, a non-profit organization specializing in pro bono financial planning.  The event is set to take place in April.


Project ‘Welcome Home’

Brandon Haney, Midco; Jenna Frost, American Crystal Sugar Company; Kayla Gefroh; Mark Honzay, JLG Architects; Melissa Rystad, Rasmussen College; Vanessa Lystad, Vogel Law Firm

This exciting project is designed to help at least 10 families in 2017 transition into permanent housing. Our goal is to gather donations and prepare kits for families so they have all the necessary supplies needed for their new home. These kits will include basic needs like toilet paper, shower curtains, sheets and kitchen utensils. We are even trying to provide bigger items like a mattress or small couch. Barb Grabar, public relations administrator at Fraser, Ltd., has been a big help in defining our project and will help us place these kits in the next year. We feel very fortunate to be able to support this need in our community.


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