Shelli Urness Nisswa, MN Class of 2008 Master of Arts - Management
Tell us about the work you do: I am the executive director of St. Joseph's Foundation in Brainerd. Our mission is to enhance fundraising efforts and encourage philanthropic support for St. Joseph's Medical Center. Basically, I help grateful patients and donors match their philanthropy with hospital programs and equipment that are important to their values. I also manage volunteer services.
A source of pride in your life: My two children, Ben 19, and Kari 15, are my greatest source of pride. My second source of pride is the fact that I returned to college to get my master of arts degree from St. Scholastica at the age of 45 while I was working full time and raising a family.
Best St. Scholastica memory: My best memory is going through the commencement exercise in Duluth. When my name was called, I heard a loud "YEAH MOM!" come from the crowd. That was very cool.
Significant influences: I have been fortunate to have many good mentors throughout my career. One in particular, Warren Williams, taught me a lot about people and how to be humble about your accomplishments. He always said "Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are."
Other achievements: My career track in general has been an achievement for me. As I have grown in my skills and knowledge, I have been fortunate to keep advancing to positions that were more rewarding and challenging. Lifelong learning, skill development, and the ability to handle change have been key ingredients to reach these achievements.
Tell us something interesting about your life: My home is an interesting mix of predator/prey. We own a large black lab, a tiny toy poodle, a cockatiel that talks, a parakeet that sings, and a ferret. If you like ruckus and noise, come on over!
Further education: I also hold a mini-MBA in Nonprofit Management from the University of St. Thomas and am a BoardSource Trainer for nonprofit boards of directors.
Philosophy: Positivity! I try to live by the philosophy that if you don't like something - change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. I try to be a positive person and don't like negativity. I either need to make a change, or change my mind set. Gandhi said "We must become the change we wish to see" and that quote sticks with me and helps me filter which projects, volunteerism and community services I wish to be involved in.
Impact of the Benedictine values: It is ironic how things circle around and come back at you sometimes in life. I was intrigued by the Benedictine values when I chose The College of St. Scholastica as my graduate school. I now work for an organization that was founded by the Benedictine Sisters over 100 years ago. Central to our mission is that "Care of the sick must rank above and before all else so that they may be served as Christ." Rule of Benedict, Chapter 36.