A Trailblazer is someone who’s not afraid to challenge the status quo; who believes that the way we’ve always done it isn’t necessarily the way we’re going to do it.
Highlighting 7 female leaders who continually evoke a deeper connection to the reason why they’re blazing a trail in the first place: to create a new path and opportunity for others. They are inspired by a sense of community that is pervasive across the board. These Trailblazers willingly share their knowledge and encompass a vast community of learners and leaders. They embody the concept of pushing the envelope and fearlessly navigating the unknown.
In this article, we interview Christina Woods, the executive director of the Duluth Art Institute.
Quote you live by:
“Love is an action, never simply a feeling.” – Bell Hooks
What’s your mission?
To empower people to live their best lives.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I am dedicated to ongoing development and can quickly identify what motivates people to succeed. I enjoy recognizing unique strengths and weaknesses and determining how to help them become better professionals. I prefer people utilize their strengths and apply them to challenging situations and tasks.
What would you say to others to encourage them to become a leader in an organization?
Leadership shows up in every wheelhouse, not only among management. Leadership may take the form of advocacy, playing to strengths and applying the work to the mission of the organization. Clear communication is imperative, and that includes listening and collaborating.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Look forward. Don’t look back.
Three key words to describe yourself:
Equanimous, expressive, inspiring
It is my homeland.
What personality trait or skill do you consider your greatest asset?
Compassion. Meeting people where they are without judgment is how I deliver support and encouragement.
What attributes connect you to your purpose?
Balance of emotions and situations, humor, joy and love.
What does success mean to you?
Success is scalable. It can be experienced on a micro scale or on a macro scale. Recognizing success on any scale is the meaning of success.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
My go-to strategy is to share my challenge with the people who cheer me on and the people who are my truth-tellers.
What does the world need more of?
The world needs more love. When a person lives from their heart, they are living through the lens of love. Ode'imin is the heartway in Anishinaabemowin. There are so many teachings about living in this way.
A top talent, brilliant administrator and strategist, Christina is a talented leader. Her success includes a 14 year career teaching, writing curriculum and grants, fundraising, and diversity/inclusion consultation. As an Anishinaabikwe and community leader, Christina empowers individuals and illuminates the breadth of human experiences. Her focus is delivered with tender attention to advocacy rooted in celebrating inclusivity and professionalism. Christina currently chairs the State of MN Capitol Arts Committee, is President of the Duluth Public Arts Commission, and serves on the State of MN CAAPB Task force on Monuments and Statues. She was also awarded an AARP 50 over 50 most influential people in MN award as a bias buster.
Featured alongside Christina are:
- Co-Executive Director of the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) LeAnn Littlewolf
- President of the Bush Foundation Jennifer Ford Reedy
- Co-Executive Director of Voices for Ethnic and Multicultural Awareness (VEMA) Seraphia Gravelle (Aguallo)
- President & CEO of the Itasca Economic Development Corporation Tamara Lowney
- President and CEO of Northspan Elissa Hansen
- Executive Director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority Deb Deluca
Read more of our stories in Issue 22 of Lake and Company.