Nothing can describe how wonderful this week has been, but WILD. WILD is NDFU’s new women’s program, Women In Leadership Development. Well it’s not very new, Jane Opdahl and Vivian Hernandez spearheaded the project beginning in the early part of last year. I remember the very beginning meeting in Bismarck, over lunch discussing logistics, how it’s going to run and what we’d like to see in the future. Those ladies have taken an idea and made it an incredible program.
We started out this week in Minot at the Taube Museum. What a beautiful place, never even knew that was there. I got to see one of my TAG members Jen Teigen, always go great to see Jen! Another wonderful young lady that showed up was Monica Norby, just saw the ad in the Union Farmer and came because she wants to get more involved in Farmers Union, we made friends quickly. We had delicious food, from a local caterer, even better! It was a young couple, she is originally from Minot. They met in cullinary school and always dreamed of having their own restaurant. They finally built it and got all of the finishing touches done, two days before the Minot flood. The flood wiped it out entirely. She then shared how they have pressed on and hope to open another restaurant someday, persistency is key.
We then had our keynote speaker, Liz Johnson the National Director of Rural Leadership for the White House project. She was very encouraging of women to not only get more involved in leadership roles, but to take note and recognize how much they are a leader in everyday life. Women are under-represented across the board, business, politics, nonprofits, you name it, the national average for women leadership is 17%. North Dakota is 46th out of the 50 states for women in leadership, c’mon ladies we can do better than that!
Jane then told her story. Jane is one of the very few female elected officials in ND, as she holds a city council position in her local community. Jane was a great inspiration, and gave everyone a message, if I can do it why not you?
The Jamestown event kicked off at the Jamestown College campus by listening to Myra Watts, who is the director of the character in leadership program for JC. She brought with her two young ladies who are about to complete the program, oddly enough I knew both of them. Mallory had been the NDFU intern last summer and her and I went shopping for decor in Bismarck together and Megan had been awarded an AAUW scholarship to attend the conference in DC and being on the board I had seen her presentation. Awesome!
The two young woman got to say a few words, but the message that stood out to me was remember how you influence others. Whether you enter a group with a smile or a frown, you are influencing others. Thanks for the reminder ladies, JC is very lucky to have you two leaders on their campus.
I also got to meet a very vivacious young woman named Rhonda, she too had just saw the ad in the Union Farmer and decided to come. She looked about two years older than me, turns out she is a mother of four, her oldest being 14, and I will never forget her comment over supper, “Man, it’s nice to have a hot meal.” The things I take for granted being childless, HA! She emailed me immediately the next day and is trying to schedule a shop talk and come to a young producers event I’ve got going. WOW! I am very excited to see the things she will accomplish going forward.
Liz made everyone stand up and introduce themselves, where they were from and how they led. Well through this little exercise we found out that we had Mrs. ND in the room, how cool. When I said I lead by listening everyone thought that was a great joke, which it was, but it is something I’m trying to work on.
So all of you WILD women out there go to facebook and find our “Women In Leadership Development” page, like us and learn about events coming to you. I cannot tell you how positive of a week I’ve had! I feel empowered, inspired and ready to conquer the world, and I’m going to!! And YOU can too!
HOPE to see all of you WILD women on the road!