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Women complete new career skills program

The first group of women recently completed a new career skills program designed by the Women’s Fund at the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation. 

Eighteen women attending Central Lakes College in Brainerd participated in the “Presenting Yourself” workshop series focused on helping them rise of poverty.

The program, started last fall, concluded last month with a graduation and business networking event that aimed to provide internship and job shadowing opportunities for the 13 women who completed the program.

“It’s all about the relationships that will lead people out of poverty,” said Pam Thomsen, creator of the Women’s Fund and the Presenting Yourself Series, in a news release. “The Presenting Yourself series provided a forum for participants to see positive role models and build relationships outside of the participant’s socioeconomic class. The exposure to mentoring, networking, and internships will provide a competitive advantage in obtaining a job and becoming a stable member of a community.” 

The Women’s Fund developed curriculum that included teaching the techniques of cover letters and resumes, interviewing, business etiquette and networking. Women from the Brainerd lakes area presented at the workshops and acted as mentors to help the participants succeed in life both personally and professionally. 

The community also donated business suits for participants and dry cleaning, and area salons provided free hairstyles and makeovers for the women.

“Now the participant has an opportunity to give back to the community based on what they have experienced, and they will now become alumni themselves,” said Thomsen, director of the Central Lakes College Foundation. “The Women’s Fund prides itself on the ability to mentor others to advance the mission of empowering women and girls in this community.”

The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation Women’s Fund is a committee made up of nine volunteers who report back to the board of directors of the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation. The Women’s Fund, launched in 2009 to empower women and girls of the Brainerd Lakes area, is made up of several successful business women who have also mentored, volunteered and participated in the supervision of staff. 

The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation is a public charity that attracts and administers charitable funds for the benefit of area residents. BLACF is affiliated with the Central Minnesota Community Foundation, a regional foundation based in St. Cloud. For more information on the BLACF Women’s Fund, visit and click on the Women’s Fund link.