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FEatured FEWs

  • September 01, 2020 7:24 AM | Amanda Hackett (Administrator)


    Meet our September Featured FEW, who is also our new FEW Website Manager!

    Name: Grace Davidson-Thooft

    Organization/Title: Campus Outreach Manager and Box Office Assistant for Fine Arts Programming at CSB/SJU.

    Length of time as a FEW Member? One month!

    Hometown? Goshen, Massachusetts

    Family? Husband of one year, Taylor

    What do you actually do at work? Outreach around arts on campus and the Fine Arts Series, engaging campus students in the arts, social media management and website management, along with managing box office student employees and serving as an assistant manager for our box office.                        

    What was your first job? I worked at the after-school program for our district with K6 students.

    How do you help others succeed? Listening first, finding out what others really want and continually encouraging and lifting them up towards those goals but understanding and validating their struggles and their own realities. Nothing gives me more joy than being the cheerleader for my friends, family and students!

    Is your desk/office messy or organized? My work-from-home office is very organized, cleaned everyday…Now, my work office I haven’t seen since March 18 is a different story…It will be a big surprise to see what state I left it in!

    Favorite vacation spot? My husband and I got engaged in Maui. I daydream about returning when the pandemic settles down!

    Who is your oldest friend and where did you meet them? My oldest friend, Sarah, and I met on the first day of third grade which was also my first day at a new school after we had moved to Massachusetts. I sat next to her and told her we were going to be best friends. Even with our lives looking very different and with my move halfway across the country seven years ago, we still text or call at a minimum every week if not daily.

    Who is your hero? It truly is my mom. She is a fierce businesswoman with incredible work ethic, a big personality and a bigger heart. I’ve seen her work her way up from bottom to the top more times than she should have had to in her career and in life. She also was willing to sacrifice so much when her family needed her. I followed in her footsteps by moving away from home at a young age to find my own place and where I belonged. I don’t know how she balanced it all, or continues to, but I’m grateful for all of her encouragement and the example she set forward for me and my sisters.

    Do you have any silly fears? Recently, crickets are my irrational fear.

  • August 01, 2020 12:54 PM | Amanda Hackett (Administrator)


    Name: Kathy Grochow

    Organization and Title: Director of Community Programs at CommunityGiving

    Length of time as a FEW Member: I don't remember (I joined when I was at Bremer, had a lapse, rejoined when I was at the College of Saint Benedict and now I'm at CommunityGiving). Maybe since 1998??

    Hometown: Cokato, Minn.

    Family: Husband, Duane, daughter who will enter second year of college and son who will enter 11th grade.

    What do you actually do at work? I oversee all distributions to include competitive grants, grants from Donor Advised Funds, and scholarships for our partner foundations in Alexandria, Brainerd, St. Cloud, Willmar, Paynseville, ROCORI, Foley, Sauk Center and Carver County. I also support community visioning processes with our executive directors in our Partner Foundations and identify community opportunities and collaborations that build community to include bridging and bonding within the community.

    What was your first job? Working for my dad on the farm—bailing hay, picking rock and walking beans. My first real job off the farm was the Video Bug (renting VHS movies).

    What is your biggest accomplishment? Transitioning from my favorite job (Bremer Nonprofit Resources Specialist) to a new challenge (Major Gift Officer at Saint Ben's) to my dream job and the BEST work environment and colleagues ever—CommunityGiving and the Central Minnesota Community Foundation! Biggest accomplishment is landing, by God's grace and guidance, in a place where I can excel and make a difference.

    Do you have or are you a mentor? I've had a professional mentor, June Roos, who had been extremely critical at a very important time in my career back in the late '90s and early 2000s.

    Last book read? The Uncommon Woman by Susan Larson. 

    Favorite vacation spot? Costa Rica though I've been there only once, but it was the best vacation!

    Who had the biggest impact on the person you have become? My dad. He had some simple rules that as an adult, I now value. Family comes before friends, always seek the silver lining, be positive and, of course, the golden rule. He has provided continuous nuggets of wisdom my entire life and continues to do so today with incredible relevance. He's a kind, gentle, soft-spoken man whom I greatly admire. 

    Biggest indulgence/guilty pleasure? Chocolate—Lindt, nothing better!

  • July 01, 2020 10:14 AM | Amanda Hackett (Administrator)


    Name: Sam Switzer

    Organization and Title: Events and Brand Manager at United Way of Central Minnesota

    Length of time as a FEW Member: 6 months

    Hometown: Escanaba, Mich.

    Family: Husband and two fur babies (a German Shepherd and a Beagle mix, who we thought was a shepherd...false advertising!)

    What do you actually do at work? I plan and manage all of United Way's large events—from coordinating a few hundred diners, hosts and chefs for Progressive Dinner to blowing the air horn to signal the start of our Bus Pull. I do a little of everything. I also manage our internal marketing, social media and graphic design.

    Do you have or are you a mentor? I'm lucky enough to work for my mentor, Jessica Houle. She's been a friend, coworker and supervisor for 12 years. I love her dedication, problem solving and caring nature she carries with her.

    Favorite vacation spot? I love to travel and experience new places, so it's hard to pick a favorite. I love Grand Velas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, when I want a relaxing beach and NYC when I want to be active.

    If you could eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? Mexican cuisineburritos, tacos, chips and salsa, margaritas, I love it all!

    Who had the biggest impact on the person you have become? It's not a "who," it's a "what." Seven years ago, my husband and I spent six weeks in France, Italy and Greece. At that time, we didn't embrace all the phone apps that are available now, so we did it without a language translator, without Google Maps, and without much help other than a car GPS that only spoke French (which we do not!). It was a HUGE learning experience both personally and in our relationship. I learned that situations are never as bad as they feel in the moment, there is always time to stop and appreciate exactly where you are, being comfortable is a good thing—it means you're growing. And calories in gelato never count after 9 p.m.!

    What do you do for fun? I love to cook and learn new cuisines, read outdoors while soaking in a little sun, go geocaching and explore new areas and traveling.

    What is your favorite way to waste time? Recently, I discovered the Bravo show "Below Deck," a reality series that follows the crew of a luxury charter yacht. I can easily lose a couple hours to that show. On a side note, I also think I missed my calling and would make a great chief stewardess!

    What is something you're obsessed with? OrangeTheory Fitness! I've been a member for over three years and pre-pandemic, I would go four mornings a week. It's the only thing that can get me out of bed at 5 a.m. I love the coaches, owners and other members, but more than that, I love the feeling of accomplishment when I do something I didn't think I could.

    If you opened a business, what type of business would it be? I actually already have! For four years, I ran the mini-dessert company Bite Size. I sold in various farmers markets and catered weddings and other events.
  • June 01, 2020 2:18 PM | Amanda Hackett (Administrator)


    Name: Amanda Hackett

    Organization and Title: Communications Coordinator at Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict

    Length of time as a FEW Member: It's been about two years. My first visit was as a guest at the 2017 November business meeting with my friend and colleague, Sister Nina Lasceski.

    Hometown: Stacy, Minn.

    Family: I am a newlywed; my husband, Austin, and I got married this past September! I also have my mom, Tamara, my dad, Timothy, and my (fraternal) twin sister, Samantha.

    What do you actually do at work? I handle our organization's external communications, including social media, magazine publications and our website. This involves posting on social media, designing, writing and liaising with many different people throughout the monastery.

    How do you help others succeed? I encourage them and let them know when they are doing a great job. I think words of encouragement are so important.

    What was your first job? I helped out at my mom's dental office for one summer while one of their employees was on maternity leave. 

    Is your desk/office messy or organized? My desk is pretty organized and clean. When the work begins to pile up, I make an intentional effort to devote time to simply tidying up. It makes me feel much more organized and on top of it!

    Favorite vacation spot? I am a huge fan of anywhere with a tropical beach, a beautiful view and a cold margarita! 

    What do you do for fun? Traveling is my biggest passion! I have been to all 50 states as well South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe twice. When I'm not on the go, I enjoy basking in the sunshine, taking walks, writing and binging a good Netflix show!

    Who is your hero? My mom is my hero. She is my best friend and has always supported me. Also, she's hilarious and such a blast to be around! I aspire to be like her.

    What are three words that best describe you? Adventurous, compassionate and ambitious.
  • May 01, 2020 1:30 PM | Amanda Hackett (Administrator)


    Name: Leah Rosso

    Organization/Title: Pastor of First United Methodist Church of the St. Cloud Region

    Length of time as a FEW Member: 3 or 4 years

    Hometown: Woodbury, Minn.

    Family: I have a husband of 20 years and three daughters (6, 10 and 12)

    What do you actually do at work? A little bit of everything! Now, because of COVID, I focus mainly on making sure people are staying connected to one another, that the church is supporting the needs of the wider St. Cloud community and putting together a worship video every week!

    How do you help others succeed? I encourage them to focus on their strengths, see vulnerability as a positive and be themselves.

    What is your biggest accomplishment? Lately, it's been creating worship videos! Who knew I should've gone to film school?

    What was your first job? I loved to work when I was young, so I worked at all kinds of places: a stamping store, Creative Kidstuff, Toby's Restaurant, in the tech department at school, Famous Footwear and cleaning out milk barns!

    Is your desk/office messy or organized? Mostly organized. When the piles grow, I have to take a break and clean house before I can think straight.

    Do you have or are you a mentor? I have many mentors and I am a mentor. I believe strongly in sharing leadership, learning from others and doing all the good I can!

    Last book read? The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett for fiction and Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor for nonfiction.

    Favorite vacation spot? We go to family camp at the YMCA Camp, Camp DuNord, every summer. It's right on the edge of the boundary waters.

    What do you do for fun? I love to travel, although I haven't done a lot since having kids. I've spent time in Zimbabwe, South Korea, Japan, Guatemala, Haiti and Israel/Palestine.

    Who is your hero? Some of the people I look up to most are Barbara Brown Taylor, Maya Angelou and Peter Storey (who helped end apartheid in South Africa).

    What are three words that best describe you? Compassionate, motivated and a good listener.

  • March 01, 2020 1:22 PM | Amanda Hackett (Administrator)

    March Featured FEW

    Name: Melissa Stalboerger

    Organization & title: Woodcraft Industries Inc., HR Generalist  

    Length of time as a FEW Member: 1 year

    Hometown: Luxemburg

    Family: Husband, Eric, of 17 years; 2 children, Ava (14) and Jacob (12)

    What do you actually do at work? I take care of many things: interviewing, hiring, firing, disciplining, benefits, payroll, set up meals, picnics, recognition awards ceremony and many other duties.

    What was your first job? I worked as a hostess at Perkins. Way back when we had to wear a green skirt and pin striped shirt with a bow tie!

    What's your biggest accomplishment? Having children.

    Is your desk/office messy or organized? I would say an organized mess...

    Who is your oldest friend and where did you met them? Jen. We lived close by each other since kindergarten. We were maid of honors in each other's weddings. I am godparent to her son. She is godparent over my daughter. Our daughters are six weeks apart and best friends.

    Biggest indulgence/guilty pleasure: Taking a nap.                       

    What is your biggest pet peeve? When individuals concern themselves with other people's problems. Motto in my office"Everything in life is easier when you don't concern yourself with what everybody else is doing."

    What did you want to be when you were a kid? A teacher. In some ways, I have become with with being a mom, coach and working in HR. 

    What would other FEW members be surprised to learn about you? I have coached girls' travel basketball for seven years. I started with the group in second grade. This is my last year with the girls in eighth grade.

  • February 01, 2020 1:14 PM | Amanda Hackett (Administrator)

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    February's Featured FEW

    Name: Kim LeBlanc   

    Organization/Title: Evelie Blu Boutique, Owner   

    Length of time as a FEW Member: This is my second year as a member of FEW.

    Hometown: I live in Sauk Rapids.

    Family: I have 2 children, Chase, 28, and Ellie, 19. My husband, Bruce, and I have been married 31 years this June. We are currently empty nesters!

    What do you actually do at work? I manage all the aspects of my boutique including six employees (two full time), merchandising, buying, operations, marketing, etc.

    What was your first job? I was a movie theater (Cinema 70 for those of you who may remember) concessions and ticket sales associate.

    Is your desk/office messy or organized? Okay…Organized to me, but probably messy to most people. Office work is not my favorite thing to do. I like being on the sales floor meeting my customers and hearing their stories.

    Last book read: I am currently reading ‘Yoga and the Quest for the True Self’ 

    Who had the biggest impact on the person you have become? My husband has been always been my biggest supporter and cheerleader. He is my partner in life, my coach, my sounding board, my best friend. He has helped me become the person I am today. 

    What are three words that best describe you? Kind, Loyal, Adventurous 

    What is something your obsessed with? I am obsessed with learning! I am a self-taught entrepreneur and have an innate drive for continued learning. I am interested learning about any subject as long as it will help me grow intellectually, creatively or spiritually. I love taking workshops, going to conferences and reading nonfiction books. I recently discovered podcasts and listen to them every morning while I am getting ready for work and in my car! They are great! 

    What would other FEW members be surprised to learn about you? I am going back to school! I am currently enrolled to become a yoga instructor. This is something that has been tugging at my heart for a few years and I finally decided to do it. So, watch for yoga classes being taught at Evelie Blu Boutique later this year!

  • December 05, 2019 8:14 AM | Deleted user


    Doreen Meier

    Human Resources Business Consultant - HR Simplified

    FEW Member since: 20+ Years

    Hometown: Richmond, MN

    Family: Husband, Tom, Two adult sons, Dustin (22) and Ben (18)

    What do you actually do at work?: I design strategic HR initiatives and provide HR support to organizations. 

    What was your first job (ever)? Cashier at Menards in St. Cloud

    Do you have a mentor? Yes

    Last vacation spot? Costa Rica-It is my favorite place to go!

    Biggest indulgence? Taking a 2-hour nap!

    What do you do for fun? I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I also love doing adventurous things (e.g. hiking, camping, motorcycling). 

    What one word would friends say best describes you? Authentic

    What would other FEW members be surprised to learn about you?  I have accepted a full-time position as the Director of Human Resources at St. Cloud Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic, effective December 30, 2019.

  • November 01, 2019 3:27 PM | Deleted user


    Sally Jo Baumgartner

    Esteemed Retiree

    FEW Member since THE BEGINNING! 1982

    Hometown: Grand Forks, ND

    Family: Jeff Baumgartner who worked at UBS (formerly Piper Jaffray) for 39+ years - Daughter - Kendall and her spouse Josh

    What do you actually do at work?

    Before retiring I owned and operated a candle factory for 15+ years in Pequot Lakes, MN

    What was your first job (ever)? 

    My goal during high school and college was to have a different job every summer which could expose me to new experiences.  The first was the most disgusting - washing glass tubes in a hospital lab.

    How do you help others succeed?

    First - listening and more listening followed by facilitating networks and sources for new opportunities (am currently assisting someone looking for a new job in the Brainerd area).  If you know of a company looking for someone smart, high energy, outgoing, a quick learner, digitally inclined, flexible and people-oriented with a ready laugh - please contact me!

    What does FEW mean to you?

    Some of you (including those on the recent WOW trip in September) are familiar with how FEW started. Ten to twelve women in 1982 reached out to other career women in the St. Cloud area to form this new business/networking group.  The group was oriented to establish new contacts/friendships, be exposed to newsworthy topics and perhaps assist women wanting to advance their careers.

    It’s been all of that for me through the years and to this day, (some 37+ years later) most of my best friendships have blossomed because of FEW and you.  November, of course, is your annual meeting and soon it will be time to determine whether you will be renewing your membership.  For many, it’s an easy decision but for others, renewing can be a time issue, a budget matter, a career decision, or maybe the emotional/friend connection just isn’t there. 

    Although it may not be apparent today, please trust that this organization, FEW, could someday be your link to new discoveries, career connections, a lifeline during challenging times and, for sure, solid gold friendships. 

    Last vacation spot?

    A few weeks ago to San Diego with my solid gold friend, and fellow FEW founder and friend, Kathleen Bernick.

  • October 09, 2019 2:36 PM | Deleted user


    Sarah Cords

    Leadership, Team & Culture Development Facilitator, Certified Dare To Lead Facilitator, Brand & Marketing Strategist


    FEW Member since 2016

    Hometown: St. Joseph, MN

    Family: I have a wonderful family that includes a hubby, two daughters, Aliyah and Ava, three dogs, and two cats.

    What do you actually do at work?

    As a leadership development coach & facilitator, I work with individuals and teams toward transformational leadership and operationalizing values. I also work with brands and companies to create strategies that align across the short term and long term growth cross-functionally for sales and marketing (traditional, digital, social, etc.). My branding work affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments. I am also working to elevate brands through values-based brand strategies & communication.

    How do you help others succeed? 

    I believe in lifting others up by highlighting their skills and strengths while always learning, growing, and creating forward momentum. Active listening and being present with people is key.

    I recommend (book, movie, show, activity, restaurant, website, etc) and why?

    Well, I am very passionate around the Dare To Lead work that Brene’ Brown is pioneering. I recommend to everyone to read Dare To Lead. While my recommendation list is quite long, that bubbles to the surface.

    Who was your favorite teacher and what did they teach you?

    I am a lifelong learner and have several teachers that have impacted my life. I had a wonderful teacher in college who was passionate about equal rights and feminism that introduced me to some eye-opening authors and resources. I consider my friends and children to be some of my biggest teachers almost daily, as well as my colleagues, fellow board members, committee members, and FEW tribe. We have some amazing leaders in FEW that I continually learn from.

    Last book read?

    I’m reading Good To Great currently. I just re-read Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown, and for fun, The Toottooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.

    Last vacation spot?

    Jay Cooke State Park - Camping gives my family the time to slow down and reconnect with each other, nature, and explore.

    What's one word that friends say best describes you?

    Driven & Attentive ( I had to ask!)

    What is your personal or business philosophy?

    Foster connection, share resources and always be a learner. Connect with your authenticity, and you will see a shift in who you attract. We all benefit from building others up around us. It’s okay to fail, as long as you learn from the experience and get back up.

Forum of Executive Women is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization. St. Cloud, Minnesota

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