Women in Business

Anne-Marie Faiola
Anne-Marie Faiola, CEO and founder, Bramble Berry

Starting today, Faithlife employees will have the opportunity to learn from inspiring and successful businesswomen throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Each month, we’ll hear from a different female speaker. Today’s speaker is Anne-Marie Faiola–here’s a little more about her:

Anne-Marie is a serial entrepreneur. She started Bramble Berry in Bellingham at 20 years old when a career in law enforcement didn’t pan out. What began in a 400-square-foot closet, grew into a million dollar operation in just four years. Now with several successful companies to her name, Anne-Marie has been honored as both Washington State’s Businesswoman of the Year in 2009 and Washington State’s Businessperson of the Year in 2010. Bob Pritchett (Faithlife’s CEO) counts Anne-Marie as one of his most-respected leaders in our community.

So where did this speaking series come from? It started with Breanna Bart, one of Faithlife’s recruiters. She had an idea, so she brought it to Bob. Recently, I asked Breanna a little more about this speaking series and how she made it happen.

1. Where did this idea come from? What’s the motivation behind it?

I would love to see more women leaders at Faithlife!

Leadership, and in particular, cultivating women leaders, is a passion and interest of mine. I was interested in learning from some of the incredible women in our community, and figured if I was, others would be as well. In the spirit of Faithlife’s culture of growth and initiative, I put together a program that I thought would benefit everyone here.

Traditionally, girls haven’t always been taught to ask, negotiate, and sit at the table. When thrown into the workforce, that sometimes plays out in very direct ways. I want women everywhere to know that it’s not scary, and that it starts with believing in yourself.

I strongly believe we, regardless of gender, can all accomplish remarkable things. The only thing holding us back is that pesky mental barrier telling us it’s not possible. These four women that will be visiting Faithlife over the next couple months didn’t let that voice in their head tell them to stop when the going got tough.

One of the things I love most about Faithlife is that we are encouraged and supported to go above and beyond to benefit the company and our colleagues. I’d been playing around with ideas for a women in leadership program, and have always been in awe of some of the strong women figures in our community. I started reaching out to them to see if they’d be willing to share their personal and professional journeys with us, and the takeaways that we can apply to our own lives. From there, the speaker series came together pretty naturally. The response has been fantastic both from the speakers and from our employees.

When I shared my idea with Bob, he was really encouraging and said it’d be “very Faithlife of me”. I love that our leadership is supportive of stuff like this.

2. How does the women in business speaker series play into Faithlife’s mission?

When I think of Faithlife’s mission, I think of community. Putting together the women in business speaker series is my way of serving and building up the incredible group of leaders we have at Faithlife.

3. Is this something Faithlife can expect more of in the future?

The sky is the limit with what we can expect! It’s up to us as a community to support and build each other up. I’m committed to doing everything I can to cultivate leadership, both in myself, and my colleagues.

4. How did you select the speakers?

I thought about who I knew or had heard of that had accomplished amazing things. I also did some research on women who’d won awards in our community, as well as women who were leaders on high-profile boards in town. Once I started sharing my idea for the speaker series with others, they all had great ideas for potential speakers as well. There are four women lined up to speak, and several more who committed if the response stays as positive as it has been so far.

5. Which speaker are you most excited to hear from, and why?

I’m excited to hear all of the women speak. They each bring different backgrounds to the table—different perspectives, different leadership styles, different stories. There’s something we can learn from each of them. I can’t wait to learn how Anne-Marie, who started in a 400-square-foot closet, has successfully launched several businesses. Anne Rasmussen’s ability to be wildly successful at any role she jumps into blows my mind. Mimi is one of the most passionate and positive people I know—and I’m excited to learn how she transfers that others. Mayor Linville goes to bat against the heaviest of hitters and I look forward to hearing her negotiation tactics, and how she keeps her cool among chaos and naysayers.

6. What makes this experience valuable to employees?

My hope is that the women in business speaker series will be educational, inspirational, and empowering. I hope it brings us together, and with a greater understanding of how we can support each other in being the best, most positive, and most effective leaders possible. Success is not singular.

Here are the three next speakers in the series:

Anne Rasmussen, executive director, Peace Health St. Joseph Medical Center and Whatcom Hospice Foundation
Anne Rasmussen, executive director, Peace Health St. Joseph Medical Center and Whatcom Hospice Foundation

 

Coming in January: Anne Rasmussen

Anne manages a multi-million dollar budget in her current role, while cultivating relationships with community members that lead to million-dollar plus donations. But this dynamic, driven woman didn’t start out in development and fundraising. She, like Anne-Marie, is an entrepreneur, having owned True Bliss Events locally for several years to put on weddings and high-profile functions for some of our area’s most-noted residents. She also drove a successful career in sales, traveling throughout the country to close high-stakes deals.

Mimi Osterdahl, founder, The Workspace, managing broker, The Muljat Group Realtors
Mimi Osterdahl, founder, The Workspace, managing broker, The Muljat Group Realtors

 

Coming in February: Mimi Osterdahl

With a long list of accomplishments and awards to her name, Mimi is one of our community’s more inspirational leaders. She is the founder of The Workspace, one of Bellingham’s few coworking spaces. As managing broker and realtor for the Muljat Group Realtors, she’s helped find and sell homes for countless people in the Pacific Northwest. Not only is she president of the Whatcom County Association of Realtors, but she’s also the state director of Washington Realtors.

Kelli Linville
Kelli Linville, mayor, City of Bellingham

 

Coming in March: Mayor Kelli Linville

Mayor Linville is Whatcom County’s first female mayor. She’s a fourth-generation Whatcom County resident, small business owner, educator, and former state legislator. Her success in the workplace began as a speech language pathologist for the Bellingham Public School, where she worked for 16 years. During this time, she was active in the Bellingham Education Association, serving as its president in 1989. This role transitioned to a seat on the Washington State House of Representatives, where she contributed 17 years of legislative service. Among her many accomplishments, she created the LIFT (Local Infrastructure Funding Tool) program to secure $25 million in state matching funds for waterfront redevelopment, and was recognized as the 2010 Legislator of the Year from the Northwest Regional Council.

Want to be around next time someone has an awesome idea at Faithlife? Check out our available careers and find one that fits you.

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for identifying women who represent God's heart in issues of the day and who demonstrate worldly success while relying on God. Women leadership is a very Biblical attribute. I will look forward to reading the biographies.

  2. Pat says

    Is the audience for these women leaders for women exclusively? Are they all believers in Christ, or just ladies who have performed accomplishments determined worthy of noticing by those in Faithlife?

    Just trying to understand how this fits.

    Thanks,

    • Ryan Nelson says

      The audience is men and women (I attended Anne-Marie’s presentation yesterday). These are women who have been recognized throughout the community and the state for their achievements as leaders. Each of these women has a unique story about how they overcame adversity, worked hard, and worked with others to accomplish their goals.

      As leaders and employees, we are always trying to get better at what we do, and one of the best ways to do that is to learn from those who are further down the road.

      My personal goals don’t completely mirror Anne-Marie’s, but I learned a lot yesterday about some of the road blocks she encountered and how she overcame them. After turning a hobby into a very successful business, she had a lot of great things to share about pursuing your passion.

      I hope this helps.

  3. Heather Dyer says

    I would be very interested in attending this lecture series. If Faithlife opens this up to the community please let me know.

    • Ryan Nelson says

      We will definitely let you know, Heather! For now, you can stay tuned for us to share what we’re learning from each speaker.

  4. says

    Thank you so much for having me as the first speaker for this important topic at Faithlife. It was an honor to speak to your team – and the audience was engaging, interested and had fantastic questions. It was a delight for me. Thank you for including me.

    • Ryan Nelson says

      You had a lot of great things to say, Anne-Marie! A coworker is writing a blog post about what we learned from you. Can’t wait to share it! Thank you so much for fitting us into your pie chart :)

    • Naomi Deviny says

      Anne-Marie! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with us. Everything about you is inspiring and delightful! You encouraged all of us to chase our dreams and never give up. I personally appreciated your transparency and love for delusional optimism. You have the rare gift of being able to captivate an audience and transform them—so thankful for the opportunity to learn from you.

  5. Chris duMond says

    Breanna,
    Thanks for modeling great leadership and facilitating opportunities for Faithlife employees to embrace our value of Growth.

    Anne-Marie,
    Thanks for sharing your story with us, both the good and the hard parts. We know you had to say “No” to other really important things in order to to say “Yes” to spending time with us. We are truly honored and thankful.

  6. Rosie Perera says

    Can we nominate women in leadership in the Pacific Northwest to be part of this series? I've got one to suggest who is right in Bellingham: Charis Weathers, a pastor, church planter, leader of a whole new way of doing church (Echoes Bellingham). Ordained in the ELCA, with a degree from Regent College, Charis is an avid outdoorswoman, has trekked all over the world, used to work for REI doing videos to demonstrate their products (among other things), and is an all-round adventurous and pioneering woman.

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