Q & A with the Fellows
About the Initiators Fellowship
The program provides the next generation of Central Minnesota's aspiring business leaders with the opportunity to use their entrepreneurial spirit to address society’s needs while solidifying their leadership role in the region. Initiators Fellows are drawn from the 160 hometowns and two tribal nations served by the Initiative Foundation.
1. How has being an Initiators Fellow affected your business venture thus far?
During the first year of my fellowship, in 2017, my business gross profits increased by 911%! I don't believe this could have happened without getting chosen for the fellowship during the fall of 2016. By getting the gift of the $30,000 annual stipend, I was able to cut my hours at my full-time job to really put my focus into growing this business. I also was given an absolutely outstanding mentor in Tom Anderson, who really helped me laser focus into money-making opportunities while delegating other tasks.
2. What are some skills, insights, etc., that you have learned from being a Fellow?
Since I'm more of a creative person, I lacked in the numbers side of my business. With the assistance of my mentor and Pam Thomsen at the North Central Region Small Business Development Center, I learned that I must focus on the numbers in order to allow myself to continue the work of speaking, writing and advocating for patients.
3. What are some current/new happenings with your business venture?
I've been able to make some great national partnerships with the College Diabetes Network as well as Center for Change. I've had numerous speaking opportunities, including a trip to Boston in which I led a training for Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard medical professionals on the high prevalence of type 1 diabetes and eating disorders. I've also been working with Central Lakes College to secure some state grant dollars to put on customized trainings for healthcare professionals right here in our region.
4. Anything else you would like to add about your experience as a Fellow?
Getting chosen for the fellowship has helped me realize that I can turn this into a full-time career. I was able to leave my part-time job in January because my speaking career was getting so busy. With the support of the Initiative Foundation, my mentor Tom, and so many others, I've truly been able to live out my dream of raising awareness about people living with diabetes.