Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fargo Woman

Fargo Women: ND foreclosures second lowest in nation

Fargo, ND - North Dakota had the second lowest foreclosure rate in the nation in october, according to, which tracks foreclosures nationally and state by state.

In the first half of 2007, North Dakota had the third lowest foreclosure rate, slightly higher than South Dakota and Vermont.

Tim Karsky, commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Financial Institutions, which regulates state charter banks, credit unions and money brokers, among others, said there don't seem to be a lot of the troubled sub-prime mortgages out there.

"We know they're being made," he said. "We've got some companies that specialize in making loans and helping people make loans that have less than average credit."

But he said the real estate market is still healthy enough to help people get out of those loans if they need to.

And, unlike a few of the troubled states, the number of lenders in North Dakota continues to grow:As of Aug. 31, 404 lenders were licensed in North Dakota this year, compared to 394 last year, said Bob Entringer, assistant commissioner.

That's compared to 381 as of Aug. 31 in 2005.

"We have some of the companies that have taken bankruptcy and have surrendered their licenses," Karsky said. "There's still companies getting into the market. For some of them, they still see an opportunity to make loans."

Joe Sheehan, a mortgage broker with Heartland Mortgage Co., agreed with the assessment that North Dakota borrowers aren't in trouble.

He said the state has had a lot of responsible lenders taking borrowers' situations into account before handing out home loans.

"We never had the risky loans in our market," he said. "Probably the worst loans that anyone did was interest-only."

Which, in turn, bodes well for the real estate market.

"Analyzing national real estate activity is like asking for a national weather forecast; it will vary in different areas and parts of the country. Like the weather, real estate is local,"said John VanMiddlesworth, former president of the Bismarck-Mandan Board of Realtors, in a release. "Real estate continues to prove to be a smart investment, and interest rates are favorable for consumers. The real estate market here is good."

Fargo Woman: Women in Business

Connie Stevens, M.Ed., LAC

Born: Valley City, ND, 1949

Education: Valley City State University—B.S. Education, NDSU—Masters in Education, guidance and counseling emphasis

Business: Clinical Director – ShareHouse/Sister’s Path/Robinson Recovery Center, Fargo

Community and Professional Volunteering: Valley City nursing home, professional organizations

On leadership, “A good leader leads by example and sets a direction that you want to follow. They have integrity, assertiveness, and diplomacy and can delegate.”

“I believe in people when they don’t believe in themselves.”
- Connie Stevens

Believing in someone’s actions and potential can be difficult even in the best of circumstances. Our community is fortunate to have a professional such as Connie Stevens overseeing programming which works with people in the throws of addiction that may well have shattered their lives. At their lowest point, people need to know that someone still has faith in them and their future.

Connie is the clinical director for ShareHouse/Sister’s Path/Robinson Recovery Center. “I feel very privileged to do what I’m doing – it’s been rewarding,” Connie said, “It’s rewarding to watch people re-claim their lives.”

Beginning in 1975, ShareHouse has provided a continuum of chemical dependency treatment, prevention and educational services to those affected by the disease of addiction, their families and communities. Sister’s Path provides housing for homeless and addictive people along with supportive services and the Robinson program provides counseling and recovery services for people addicted to Methamphetamines.

As the clinical director for these programs she oversees all clinical teams and services which provide treatment to people suffering and recovering from addition.

A typical day for Connie starts with checking messages and emails and making sure that the staff is in place handling clients’’ care. She does “flash staffing” by meeting with her staff to hear how the night before went with clients who live on-site. Weekly, Connie holds supervisory meetings and is always working on program planning.

Another part of Connie’s job is to network in the community and speak to area organizations and service groups. She attends workshops, reads professional magazines, newsletters, attends national conferences and takes part in continuing education. Through her educational and networking efforts, Connie said sees first hand what is going on in the country as far as addiction treatment and feels that North Dakota is a head of the rest of the country because of the high caliber treatment it offers.

Connie attended Valley City State University (VCSU) then transferred to NDSU. She returned to VCSU and received her B.S. in Education. After graduation, she taught phy ed and coached at Fargo South High School for three years. Then she moved to Minot where she taught for several years and then started her family.

In 1990, Connie and her family moved to Fargo. After 10 years of being home with her three children and now as a single parent, Connie returned to school and received her Master’s in Guidance and Counseling. She said it was a challenge to be in school, have three children to raise and balance the family finances to get all of this accomplished.

As time went on, she did her college internship with the St. John’s Genesis program in child chemical dependency. She was offered her first job there and remained at Genesis for four years. Later, Connie went to Lutheran Social Services of ND and worked for two years at Luther Hall group home as an addiction and family counselor.

As inpatient facilities began closing and more outpatient programs started she joined Drake Counseling Center in Fargo counseling families whose kids were addressing and recovering from addiction. The area of family and child counseling is a passion of Connie’s and she served in the role for five years. She moved on to the clinical director position at Drake, which she held for four years before moving to ShareHouse.

Summarizing her reasons to move to ShareHouse Connie said that it was time for a professional change and to form a new professional vision for herself. She has now been at ShareHouse for two years and loves what she does. She said that she enjoys working for a larger and non profit organization.

At ShareHouse through treatment, they deal with the whole person including the spiritual side of the individual. Connie said that spiritual awareness can play a large role in a person’s recovery from addictions. And, this former teacher is still teaching as she mentions that education is a part of an individual’s treatment program.

Connie shared that it is a privilege to be a part of people’s journey through and recovery from addiction. As a professional working in this field, she said many times there is not immediate gratification when working with a patient but, that years later, perhaps, a parent will stop her on the street and thank her for how she helped their child – that their child recovered and is now a healthy, contributing adult.

Connie sees Meth use rising and points out that their organization is the first treatment facility to offer Meth recovery programs in the state. In the past, Connie said that treatments for all addictions tended to be more “cookie cutter” but now individualized treatment plans are becoming the norm. ShareHouse also does programming that is gender specific – women working with women and men working with men to address personal issues.

After a person has suffered through years of addiction, received help and has emerged whole by re-claiming their life through counseling and treatment, great comfort can be taken from Connie’s favorite saying,” It’s not the years in your life; it’s the life in your years.”
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Friday, September 28, 2007

Fargo Women: Google GOD? From Their Mouths Google GOD? From Their Mouths of Google.

Ask George Orwells "GOOGLE"
“When asked about Google’s future, he talks about the targeted personalization of search results: ‘The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask questions such as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘What job shall I take?

23-Year-Old Mark Zuckerberg Has Google Sweating

“Owen Van Natta, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said a visit to will uncover all the product recommendations one might want but the value can be limited in the anonymity of the people posting the reviews. On the other hand, if you take your online activities and put them through the filter of the people you know well, those actions take on greater meaning.”

Wikipedia ranks first for online news

“According to Nielsen//NetRatings, the encyclopedia site Wikipedia is the top news and information destination on the Internet, gaining 20 million unique monthly users in the past year.”

Google: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet

“Search engine giant Google Inc. has been putting together a massive cable network to provide customers around the world with telecommunications services ranging from broadband Internet to home and mobile phones.”


Fargo Area Women: Valley Women Must Focus on Retirement Income.

Fargo Media: His message is for all the women out there in the Fargo Moorhead Area: Whether or not you are the breadwinner in your household, preparing for retirement should be extremely important to you! One item of planning that must be considered is the financial situation of a surviving spouse and what can be done to prepare for a potential shortfall.

Women survive their spouses more often then men. The Administration on Aging estimates that seven of ten women will outlive their husbands, [1] highlighting the need for retirement planning even more.

Unfortunately, women are often at a disadvantage when it comes to resources available for retirement. The average woman spends nearly 15 years away from the workforce, while the average man will be away for 1.6 years. This translates into lower benefits from company pensions, 401(k) plans and Social Security.

Various estimates indicate expenses after the death of a husband will be 80 percent of what they had been when he was alive. Unfortunately, a widow’s income may likely be much less than what will be needed to cover expenses. Of all elderly persons with income below the poverty level, over 70 percent are women. [2] More than half were much better off financially before their husbands died.

Less time in the workforce may also mean that fewer women qualify for health benefits. This can put an even greater burden on their retirement income. It is imperative for women to start saving now for their retirement, which can be accomplished through several savings vehicles. It is equally important to protect your nest egg through adequate life insurance coverage and insurance options should your health care needs change. Adequate planning for retirement and surviving a spouse can be a deciding factor in living comfortably.

Taking the time to examine the household finances and planning carefully will help to ensure there are adequate means of support for either spouse during the golden years. Talk to a qualified individual about your retirement needs to prepare for and enjoy a comfortable retirement in Fargo Moorhead.

Fargo Women: Profiles: Jill St. John

Jill St. John

Born: Sioux Falls, SD, 1966

Education: High school graduate

Business: Professional Voice Services

Community volunteering: Started Cares for Kids radio-a-thon in 1999 to benefit MeritCare Foundation, children’s school, Nativity Catholic Church

On leadership, “A leader is someone who adapts creatively to all individuals they are leading toward success rather than making people conform to their ‘one and only way,’”

Jill’s first job was in radio as a 16 year old and just a few years later she took an on-air position at Lite Rock in Fargo after graduating from high school. She lived and worked in Fargo from 1984 to 1991 and then returned in 1999. In between, she moved as needed when her husband attended graduate school and then for other opportunities. Jill and her family lived in Milwaukee, WI, Minneapolis and St. Cloud, MN, before returning to Fargo. In Milwaukee, Jill was on an oldies morning radio show, on mornings at KDWB in Minneapolis/St.Paul and also was a copywriter for the station. Jill and her husband decided to return to this area to raise their children; Hannah who is ten and Adam who is eight.

By 2001, and in commercial radio for 21 years, Jill felt changes coming with the advent of corporate radio ownership and decided to go on her own with a new business. That year she started Professional Voice Services and, by 2002, was very busy with clients who needed voice work. She is currently the voice of Northern Home Furniture, Park Company Realty, Hector International Airport and Sunmart commercials, is the voice on Lexli Skin Care products infomercials (which air around the world), Microsoft software tutorials, and documentary narrations such as “House of Babies” which is airing on the Discovery Health channel across the world.

Talents that serve Jill well in her profession include the knack for sight reading that she says comes from her years of reading news right off the news wire live on-air. This skill enables Jill to cut voice-overs (the voice in commercials) the first time though for a 30 or 60 second commercial without making a mistake. She can also read long copy (such as a script) for hours without taking a break, not making a mistake and yet can speak more than 190 words per minute.

Most people do not know that Jill is from a radio family – her brother is WDAY’s Scott Hennen and she has a sister who is also in radio. People may also not know that Jill almost pursued a different career when her high school art teacher encouraged her to apply for a scholarship to attend the Boston Institute of Art. Instead she applied and was hired at “Lite 105” (which became Lite Rock 105) right after high school graduation. With Jill’s interest in the arts, it is not surprising to learn that Jill dabbles in photography and enjoys painting when she has the time.

A typical day for Jill includes being on call to clients who need short advertising copy scripts quickly read and taped, working for contract clients, and then reading for 15 minutes up to five hours straight in a studio for a project. It is unusual, but at times Jill has read for eight hours continually on a project. She drives from studio to studio in Fargo-Moorhead during the day depending on which client she is working for while making sure she has time to devote to her children and their activities.

Exciting trends are currently taking place in the voice profession and Jill said that they are closely related to changes in technology. She said that audio books are becoming popular again with people listening to material on MP3 players and I Pods and creates a market for books to be read out loud and recorded. Tutorials for software are also creating a large need for professional voices to narrate instructions. Jill adds that the industry is at a very exciting point because of broadband capabilities to move voice through the internet.

All change is opportunity to her and Jill has chosen to look at professional obstacles in this way. While adapting to industry changes, Jill strives to keep learning by reading many professional magazines, including Business Week, continuing to network with friends in the industry and working to keep up with what technology can offer to the delivery of voice.

Jill’s inspiration comes from several women; Maryann Philips of Video Arts Studio in Fargo and her ability to be successful even as the production industry drastically changed, her late Grandmother Bertha who raised fifteen children (without modern conveniences) and Jill’s mother Jeanette who became an independent career sales woman at a time when it was very difficult for a woman to get established in a career. Jill stresses that her mother continually inspires her because her mother gets more successful in business every year.

Jill’s favorite quote is one that describes to her the responsibility of being on-air in radio: A broadcast channel news director said to a producer, it must be nice to be the smartest person in the room … to always know what’s best for people,” To which the producer replied, “No – it’s awful.” Jill underscores the meaning of this exchange by saying that being on-air in radio is sometimes a burden and sometimes good.
So, the next time you are listening to your radio, watching TV or following a Microsoft software tutorial, it is very likely that you are listening to the distinctive and successful voice of Jill St. John.

1 comment:

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