Steve Strack recently graduated from the Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo (LFMWF) program hosted by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo (FMWF) Chamber
. The 10-month program is made up of 40 up-and-coming community leaders. It exposes participants to issues that face our region while challenging and engaging them to strengthen the community through service and leadership.
The program features a variety of events, including a ropes course challenge to kick off the program and a Community Change Initiative (CCI) group project. These CCIs allow the participants to apply the skills and insights that they gained through the program to a real-life initiative. They can bring this initiative to fruition to positively impact their communities.
Steve Strack graduated from the LFMWF Program.
Steve’s group developed the “Kicks for Kids – FMWF" program for their CCI. The project concept was born from conversations with local teachers and their personal stories. They found there was a significant need in the community for adequate footwear for all and how some teachers were purchasing shoes themselves for their students. In response, they started the “Kicks for Kids – FMWF” shoe drive so that children can obtain necessary footwear and teachers can be alleviated from making these purchases themselves.
Bins were placed throughout the community to gather donated shoes, which were then donated to the Golden Drive Homeless Kids organization
. They sought to impact as many children (infant-12th grade) as possible within their community by meeting the basic need of decent footwear. As part of this effort, the Fargo Marathon partnered with Scheels
to purchase new shoes to distribute to local schools.
Steve is the lead traffic operations engineer in HEI’s Fargo office. He primarily focuses on transportation projects for urban and rural communities. Outside of work, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, landscaping, and painfully attempting to catch a fish through the ice.
The 2022-2023 LFMWF graduating class. Photo is courtesy of the FMWF Chamber.
Q&A with Steve
Can you summarize what it was like participating in this program?
From the first session, the program challenges a participant’s view of leadership. The program promotes and fosters the idea that leadership doesn’t only apply to your place of employment; it extends to the relationships you form and the community you live in. Throughout the duration of the program, participants are given the opportunity to learn and grow from their class peers, other community leaders, and shared experiences.
What did you learn from this experience?
When you ask someone what leadership looks like, you will get a variety of answers. Most often you will hear of a politician, someone who owns or runs a company, or someone who is financially successful. From the program’s perspective, this doesn’t accurately define leadership. Leadership is about taking the time to foster relationships, genuinely caring about others, and creating environments that enrich the lives of others, both in the workplace and the community.
The other main takeaway from the program is the issues that face our community. Most of us live busy lives and often focus on getting from Point A to Point B. If you take the time to stop and look, the issues become apparent. You don’t need to startup a non-profit or donate large sums of money, you only need to be willing to donate some of your time. Enough people adding small contributions can make a big change.
What are some of the things you enjoyed about this program?
The thing I enjoyed the most was the comradery and relationships formed with others in the program. Through the various sessions (i.e., ropes course) and social gatherings, you form bonds that will last beyond the program.
The graduates participated in a ropes course to build comradery. Photo courtesy of the FMFW Chamber.
How has this experience impacted your view of leadership?
Leadership comes in a variety of forms and there is not one way to accomplish it. A person can apply leadership characteristics in all aspects of life whether it be professionally or personally. You don’t have to be at the top of the food chain to make a difference in other people’s lives.
What was something you didn’t know about the FMWF community before completing the LFMWF program?
How active the Chamber of Commerce is in the community. Prior to the program, I thought their mission was to stimulate and grow business opportunities in the community. After the program, their mission is to not only support business opportunities, but how those opportunities can uplift a community. Also, the number of non-profit organizations in our community and the need for those organizations.
Would you recommend the LFMWF program to others? Why?
Absolutely! It will improve your leadership abilities and bring you closer to the community you live in. The program inspires you to make a difference in all aspects of life. The program is an excellent opportunity for those that want to be active in the community but are unsure of the first steps. The program provides opportunities to partner will local non-profit, business, and government organizations.
What advice do you have for future FMWF Chamber Leadership Program participants?
Come into the program with an open mind. If you are willing to put the time, effort, and commitment into the program, you will become a better leader and person.