September 26, 2018

35 Women With One Thing In Common, A Desire to Make A Difference: United Way’s 35 Under 35 Program

As the United Way 35 Under 35 Women's Leadership Program turns 10 years old in 2018, we can't help but reflect on the amazing women in our community that have been a part of the program for the past decade. These women are inspiring to us all and have a gift for creating connections and making an impact in our community. 

Applications for the 2019 program are open until September 30th and who better to encourage inspiring women in our community to apply than an inspiring past 35 Under 35 participant herself, Sarah Busse!


Read about her experience in the article she wrote reflecting on her time in the 2018 program:

Written by Sarah Busse, Proposal and Implementation Specialist, Border States Electric

Last October, I took a leap of faith and applied for the United Way's 35 Under 35 Women's Leadership Program. From the day I received the acceptance letter, I knew it would be a positive experience, however, I had no idea to what extent. We met once each month January–June for a day-long seminar. The sessions built on each other, focusing on developing and refining your authentic leadership style.

To share my experience, I wanted to delve into the program's three-fold mission.

Mission 1: Mobilize the caring power of women

The beautiful thing about this program is that 35 different women come in with 35 different perspectives and experiences. However, we have one thing in common—the desire to make a difference and improve ourselves. If you are surrounded by negative energy, you also give out negative energy. If you surround yourself with positive energy—with people who want to make a difference—they will push you to be better.

StrengthsFinders was incorporated into each session. This theory focuses on building your strengths as opposed to your weaknesses. When I applied, I hoped to identify better ways to use my strength of empathy. Each session encouraged us to be our authentic self, and without realizing it, I was starting to achieve this goal. I was not aware of how I had grown until, a fellow participant told me I had a gift. I could explain things in a kind and compassionate manner, yet, remain logical so we still achieved the end result. This was an incredible compliment. In the past, I was told that I was too emotional and so, I tried to hide that side of me. I learned I could be myself, kind, caring and compassionate—and still make a difference!

Mission 2: Energize and empower women to make a difference

Every session focused on empowerment. You are enough. You need to—and absolutely can—make goals happen for yourself. When we pursue a goal, it requires us to step outside our comfort zone, which can be scary, but this is where the real magic occurs.

Empowerment also means picking ourselves back up when we fall. Our speakers talked about their trials and how they continued to move forward. Failure hurts, but without it, we would not know what success looks like. I was often left with the question, "How did you actually overcome it?" A fellow 35-er introduced me to the book "Rising Strong" by Brenè Brown. It describes the process of falling flat on your face and picking yourself back up, stronger and better than ever. This book changed how I view my failures and was my biggest take-away from the program. It changed how I approach my work, interactions with others, relationships—personal and professional—and how I pick myself up when I fall.

Mission 3: Deepen leadership opportunities in the Cass-Clay community for young women

This mission is about building a sense of connection in the community by reaching out to a variety of people. When you do this, you learn where and how to be more involved, and how to be a leader in the community. Seven years ago, I moved to Fargo and knew no one. This program has helped me form meaningful relationships in the community, and has given me the confidence to continue to do that. I have had more coffee/lunch connects in the last six months than I had the previous six years. I am more involved in the community, the Emerging Leaders program, and I can see potential for future growth and connection in the FM area.

You might be wondering, "Is this program something I would enjoy or benefit from?" This overview is simply the tip of the iceberg, and everyone's experience will be different. If you have a desire to be a better version of yourself, to learn how focusing on others can help you move forward and to make an impact in the community, then the answer is "Yes, you should definitely apply."

Thank you to Sarah for sharing her experience in the program. If you know an inspiring woman who you would be a good fit for this program or you are considering applying yourself - take the leap and fill out the application TODAY!

For any questions, please email Tiffany McShane at or call 701-237-5050.

35_Under_35_Blog_Share.jpg Download 35_Under_35_Blog_Share2.jpg Download 35_Under_35_Blog_Share3.jpg Download