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From PR to fundraising

Leann Mouw never thought her career would basically be a professional fund-raiser, but she said she enjoys building relationships and educating people on their health care options in Detroit Lakes.

If anyone had asked LeAnn Mouw when she was in college if she thought she'd be a professional fund-raiser, she would have laughed and shook her head. Today, in a nutshell, that's just want she does -- and enjoys it.

Growing up in Brainerd and then moving to Moorhead for college, Mouw commuted the first seven years she worked at Essentia Health St. Mary's in Detroit Lakes. She worked in the marketing and public relations department, a position that matched what she had gone to college for.

But in 2003, the St. Mary's Foundation reorganized and she was offered the job of heading up the foundation, which she took.

"Now my primary focus is fund-raising and raising money (for the hospital)," she said.

And it worked out for the best because when Essentia Health took over St. Mary's, the majority of the public relations duties "rolled up corporately." In her foundation role, Mouw oversees six committees made up of volunteers who raise funds for St. Mary's.

"It's quite rewarding. There's nothing greater than building a relationship with someone who wants to be charitable."

Mouw works closely with the volunteers and says her job is to "make sure they are armed with the information they need." She also sets up and runs the meetings with the 50 to 70 volunteers in the foundation.

And whatever people can donate, whether it be the volunteers and their time or the citizens or businesses and their money, it's all appreciated -- "whatever they can donate: their time, talent or treasure."

The employees of St. Mary's can be included in that as well. Eighty-one percent of St. Mary's employees give back to the foundation.

"We have built such a nice culture of philanthropy," she said.

Whether it's speaking to a group or one-on-one with someone on the street, Mouw said her position gives her the opportunity to have a healthcare discussion with people and educate them on options and what St. Mary's can offer them.

"It's way more about the relationship then the giving money."

With her change in positions, Mouw and her husband, Brant, also got a change in scenery. Her new position required them to move to the Detroit Lakes area, which they had no problem doing.

"We jumped at the chance to live in lake country," she said. "I totally see the benefit (of living where the job is)."

Brant commutes to Fargo for his work, and the couple now has a child, Carter, 5.

Since her relatives aren't in the area, Mouw said she's happy to have found a great network of friends through their move to Detroit Lakes and through her position at St. Mary's.

And no matter how hectic work can get, family always comes first. Though her husband and child are priority one, it's hard to find a balance between career and home life at times.

"If I had the answer to that question, I wouldn't have to work anymore," she said with a laugh.