Eden Prairie Lifestyle 
Women of Substance 8

Inspirational Women Who Give Back

“A woman of substance is a woman of power, a woman of positive influence, and a woman of meaning.”

Nancy Tyra-Lukens Eden Prairie Mayor and active community volunteer

Nancy is passionate about the sustainability efforts in the community. Since the 20-40-15 initiative started in 2006, the city has made great strides in reducing the consumption of fuel and energy by city owned vehicles and facilities. The next step is to spread this message out in the community.

What do you enjoy most about the Eden Prairie Community?

I like the diversity. The socio-economic and racial diversity make us a unique suburb, which makes the community so much richer. It also exposes our students to the wonderful diversity of the world, which is so important.

How would you define a woman of substance?

Someone who is passionate about what they’re doing, passionate about the community, eager to help, willing to look for solutions to problems and has the tenacity to stick with it. I think there are a lot of women of substance out there, not just the ones being recognized today.

How can women positively impact our community?

There are so many ways that women help. There are all sorts of volunteer organizations right here in Eden Prairie that can always use help like PROP, Let’s Go Fishing, Rotary Club, Lions Club, Eden Prairie Reads. There are just so many ways people can choose to get involved, they just have to make the choice and commit to it.

What challenges have you faced in your field because of your gender?

I think it’s actually an advantage at the local government level. If you look at voting statistics, more women vote than men. Women tend to value balance and take the time to learn about the issues before voting.  They wield a lot of power.

What advice do you have for young girls in Eden Prairie?

Get involved in your community and find out what’s going on.  Find something you’re passionate about and share it with others. When it’s something you care about, that’s where you’re going to make the most impact.

Jan Carlson Family Practice Nurse at Park Nicollet Eden Prairie

With an extraordinary amount of empathy and compassion, Jan touches the lives of her patients every day.

What are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about people. I have a genuine interest in hearing their stories. I am privileged enough to see people in hardest and happiest times of their lives. It’s great that I can be of service to them, but I get just as much back for myself.

What drives that passion?

My Dad was a great example of how to treat other people. It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from, he was always kind to others.

How would you define a woman of substance?

A woman who thinks outside themselves and intuitively recognizes the needs of others. Sometimes it’s a phone call or bringing a dinner over, but always thinking about others. They are looking to make all of us better, not just themselves.

Who is one of your female role models?

My friend, Robin Petrich. She is the total package. She’s incredibly intelligent, warm, kind, and extremely genuine in the way she cares about others.

What advice do you have for young girls in Eden Prairie?

Don’t worry about everyone else and know who you are. Have confidence in yourself and ignore all the outside pressures that are so often put on girls today.

Marcia LeVoir Advocate for disability awareness

Marcia has worked tirelessly as an advocate and voice for children and adults living with disabilities. She works with state and local elected officials to bring attention to their unique needs.

What are you most passionate about?

I’m very passionate about the special needs community and I’ve always loved helping others. I enjoy talking to people, hearing their stories, and connecting with them.

What drives your passion?

We have a son, Andy, with down syndrome.  For 36 years, we’ve been advocating and working with him. That’s really how it all started.

What do you enjoy most about the Eden Prairie Community?

We love the education our kids received. Our son, Andy, lives here and to see the community through his eyes has been wonderful.

How would you define a woman of substance?

I think it’s someone who is authentic and is true to their values.

How can women positively impact our community?

There are so many diverse and talented women in this community. They can look at the needs around us and use what they’re passionate about to make a difference.

Who is one of your female role models?

My mother. She was a quiet, understated person who was always there for people. She was so wise and her parenting was amazing. She created security so I could go forward in life and create the same thing for my kids.

What attributes do you admire in women you look up to?

Someone who has integrity and is comfortable with who they are. They accomplish things for other people, not themselves. I’ve always loved capable 
women who live their truth.

What advice do you have for young girls in Eden Prairie?

Listen to yourself and don’t be affected by everyone else’s opinion. Don’t let other people define who you are.

Hanadi Chehabeddine Human Rights advocate, and recipient of the 2016 Eden Prairie Human Rights Award

Through the Islamic Resource Group, Hanadi speaks at schools and churches to share the perspective of being a Muslim. She is in the process of starting her own company with plans to expand her speaking engagements to include corporations and hopes to change the way Muslims are represented in the media.

What are you most passionate about?

I’m passionate about leading the conversation between the Muslim community and the larger community. Sometimes the conversations are uncomfortable, but I believe this is where we’re at as a country.

What drives your passion?

My religion. As a Muslim, I believe the message of Islam deserves a better reputation. As a practicing Muslim, I find a lot of comfort in the teachings and it breaks my heart to see it being spoken about negatively in the media. It is also an obligation to clarify anything that hinders a proper understanding of the religion.

What do you enjoy most about the Eden Prairie Community?

I love everything from the people to the activities and how they are focused on families and kids. I also love the diversity. We were at the mall recently and my children pointed out a painting of a girl wearing a hijab. It’s beautiful to see this type of diversity represented in our city.

How would you define a woman of substance?

I believe every woman is of substance, regardless of whether she’s acknowledged for it or not. Every single woman who raises children to be outspoken, inclusive, leaders has substance. Our country is focused a lot on working women, but the women who are raising the next generation are the heroes behind the spotlight.

What challenges have you faced because of your gender?

I have faced challenges because I am a Muslim woman more than simply a woman. There is a lot of fear, specifically for veiled Muslim women. It’s a struggle because I can be called a world class peacekeeper by the Star Tribune, yet when I go to the supermarket, I’m a suspect. That makes me weary of my surroundings, when all I want to do is be a neighbor and a resident like everyone else.

What advice do you have for young girls in Eden Prairie?

Reach out and connect to people who do not think like you or look like you. Creating change starts by reaching out with love and understanding to establish strong relationships. This is how we break stereotypes and see each other as people.

Kay Nordbye local business owner and youth mentor

Kay owns Encore Boutique and holds charity sales several times a year for funding donations to local causes.  She actively mentors young women in the community.

What are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about making a difference in the world. Somehow, every day, waking up and making a difference in somebody’s life.

What drives that passion?

My parents always gave from their heart and taught me if you can do something good every day, you’ll sleep well at night. It’s such an easy thing to do that it almost feels selfish because I get so much from doing things for other people.

What do you enjoy most about the Eden Prairie Community?

I love the passion of the people. They are caring, diverse, and have respect for each other. I’ve lived in other communities and it’s not always like that.

How would you define a woman of substance?

I feel like a woman of substance is a lifestyle choice. All of us give in different ways and that’s just what we do.

Who is one of your female role models?

My Mother. My Dad was a salesman and my Mom did everything around the house; even fixing the washing machine.  She showed me how capable I am of doing things for myself. It was empowering.

What advice do you have for young girls in Eden Prairie?

You’re capable of doing anything you want to do and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. Find a job you love because if you love what you’re doing, you’ll put your whole heart into it.

Ranee Jacobus Career financial professional and active community volunteer

Ranee is currently an Eden Prairie School Board Member, Eden Prairie Community Foundation Board Member, and member of the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Committee.

What are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about being involved in things locally.  A lot of people underestimate how important that is. It’s easy to get caught up in our busy lives and forget about what’s going on around you.

What do you enjoy most about the Eden Prairie Community?

Even though it’s large in size, it’s still a small community. The people are very friendly and incredibly involved. It’s such a nice place to live and raise a family.

How would you define a woman of substance?

A woman who looks outside of themselves and gives back in a meaningful way. Someone who is there for other people and makes a heartfelt commitment to giving their time and energy to others.

How can women positively impact our community?

Women positively impact our community every day just by being moms, grandmas, teachers, and business owners. Eden Prairie, more than anywhere else I know, has so many women who professionally and personally give back to our community.

What advice do you have for young girls in Eden Prairie?

Always be true to yourself. Always be willing to put yourself out there, because you’ll miss so many opportunities if you don’t. Be confident in who you are and don’t let anyone tell you can’t do something.

Mary Mackmiller Small business owner and active community volunteer

Mary has been on the Eden Prairie Community Foundation Board for the past eight years. She was the chair for the Eden Prairie Community Foundation gala, EP Gives, held last month. The Eden Prairie Community Foundation has given more than 1.6 million dollars in grants to local non-profits and service organizations.

What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about connecting people. I love meeting people who are passionate about what they’re doing and connecting them with others who can help them reach their goals.

What do you enjoy most about the Eden Prairie Community?

Of any place I’ve lived, I feel most at home here. I have met some of the finest people on the planet through my time with the Eden Prairie Community Foundation.

How would you define a woman of substance?

I know many women of substance. Any woman who has a work life, has a personal life, and is passionate about what they do is a woman of substance.

Who is one of your female role models?

My mother. She was on boards, she worked tirelessly for our church, and for migrant workers. She was a lifelong volunteer.

What advice do you have for young girls in Eden Prairie?

It’s important to volunteer your time and your talents to one of our city’s organizations.  Helping others is a really great way to help yourself.