AN ANNUAL WOMEN’S MAGAZINE PUBLISHED BY THE DETROIT LAKES TRIBUNE
Inside: Dawn Livdahl, Breanna Adams, Kim Bettcher, Helen Foltz, Carrie Johnston, Gretchen Hunter
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As the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce president, she has deep connections with local businesses and organizations, helping all who cross her path find success.
The owner of four Detroit Lakes restaurants, her culinary contributions add a wealth of options for residents and tourists alike.
As general manager for the Washington Square Mall, her drive has helped her overcome several challenges no one could have anticipated.
The 2022 “Women 360” magazine features six Detroit Lakes women. These women not only do stellar work within their professional fields but also within their communities.
People like them make Detroit Lakes a wonderful and unique place to live, and often, what they do goes completely unnoticed. “Women 360” is
Michael Achterling firstname.lastname@example.org
Tris Anderson email@example.com
Nathan Bowe firstname.lastname@example.org
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Barbie Porter firstname.lastname@example.org
Jared Rubado email@example.com
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Robin Stalley email@example.com
The former owner of the Detroit Lakes Papa Murphy’s is still keeping busy and continues to help her community.
As director of clinic operations at Sanford Health, she’s always in the mix to ensure patients get excellent care and staff are happy.
The Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center marketing and membership director advocates for everybody, young and old, to have opportunities to get active.
a chance to highlight these women and show appreciation for what they do.
Some hawk-eyed readers may have noticed a glaring difference between this year’s magazine and previous years’ magazines: There is no woman of the year winner.
Magazine staff deliberated this issue for some time, but ultimately, we felt that any decision we made would be
arbitrary. Each woman is an essential part of the community, how could we possibly choose a winner?
So this year, and going forward, we will not be choosing winners.
We hope you enjoy our contributors’ hard work and the stories of the women who graciously made time for us in their busy schedules.
Thank you for reading.
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Published by the Detroit Lakes Tribune 1030 15th Ave. SE, Suite 2, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501 218-847-3151 • dl-online.com
4 | WOMEN 360
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Detroit Lakes’ biggest cheerleader
Chamber President Carrie Johnston champions local businesses, community, and people
BY VICKI GERDES For Women 360
Though she is a native of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, Carrie Johnston’s heart belongs to Detroit Lakes, where she has served as its Chamber of Commerce president since 2010.
“Carrie is essential to the success of Detroit Lakes,” says Amy Degerstrom, former executive director of the Becker County Museum (the chamber’s closest neighbor), who was also a resident of the lakes area for many years. “She knows its history, is committed to supporting and encouraging new businesses and is a champion for the people behind them.”
“Carrie has a deep knowledge of the history of our region,” said Degerstrom’s successor as museum director, Becky Mitchell, who has worked with Johnston on a variety of projects over the years — most recently the MN Sn’Ice Snow and Ice Showcase, which in 2022, included Detroit Lakes’ largest-ever ice palace in honor of the community’s 150th birthday.
“From recognizing individuals and businesses for all they do, to being the link between businesses and individuals and the resources they are seeking, Carrie is a go-to person in our region,” Mitchell added. “She gives of her time both personally and professionally to make so many of the events in our region strong and successful. She truly cares for our community and is a wonderful advocate to our community, always with a welcoming smile and hot cup of coffee.”
A resident of Detroit Lakes since 1996, Johnston met her husband, David, while working at Lakeside 1891 (now Lakeside Tavern).
“I was their fine dining manager … he was working in the bar,” she said.
The couple got married in 1997, and have raised their two children, Morgan and Zane, in the community. “Our kids went to school in the Detroit Lakes district, from kindergarten through
6 | WOMEN 360
Contributed / Carrie Johnston Carrie Johnston, at right, with her family — husband David, son Zane and daughter Morgan — after Morgan’s graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2020.
Vicki Gerdes / Women 360 Carrie Johnston has been a resident of Detroit Lakes since 1996, and became the president of the Detriot Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2010.
graduation, as proud Lakers.”
Morgan, who graduated from the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, with a degree in graphic design, is currently employed as an event planner with Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria. Her younger brother Zane is attending Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead, pursuing a degree in criminal justice.
“Zane hasn’t decided which direction he wants to go (within the criminal justice field),” says Carrie. “There are so many opportunities out there.”
Her husband Dave, meanwhile, is the operations manager for Fairfield Inn and Suites in Detroit Lakes — which is one of the chamber’s 450-plus member businesses.
“We are a fairly large chamber for a community of our size,” Johnston said, noting that their membership stretches to communities within a 45-mile radius of Detroit Lakes. “We also get to be the visitor center for our region … and we manage the tourism bureau under contract with the city.”
In the years between Lakeside and the chamber, Johnston worked with Beth Pridday at her consulting business for area nonprofits, Solutions, and spent three years as director of the Becker County Historical Society and Museum. The knowledge and contacts she gained through those experiences have served her well.
“To put it succinctly, Carrie is a key community connector,” says Mary Beth Gilsdorf, a longtime friend, co-volunteer on a variety of community projects and 2021 Women 360 honoree. “If you have an idea, or project, or question — Carrie can direct you to the right person to connect with to find what you need to get things done. I’ve always said this community has everything we need to do anything we set our minds to, but it’s important to have someone like Carrie who has kind of a bird’seye view of all the different resources and expertise in the community and is great at connecting the dots so synergy can happen.
“Carrie is also a calming influence on all the various projects and committees I’ve worked with her over the years,” she added. “It’s a true talent to run an efficient and effective meeting with a group of people with strong personalities and passion — but Carrie helps move the agenda forward while keeping things drama-free. And that is priceless.”
was also pleased to see Johnston getting recognition for her
WOMEN 360 | 7
“From recognizing individuals and businesses for all they do, to being the link between businesses and individuals and the resources they are seeking, Carrie is a go-to person in our region.”
Contributed / Carrie Johnston
Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce President Carrie Johnston, at left, with the rest of her staff at the chamber during its 100th anniversary celebration. The chamber’s staff includes, from left, Cleone Stewart (director of the Tourism Bureau) along with Sandy Stilke and Jean Erickson.
Paula Quam / Detroit Lakes Tribune File Photo Carrie Johnston, left, and Beth Pridday have been friends, colleagues and members of the local Kiwanis Club for many years. In 2013, they co-chaired the Kiwanis’ Hog Wild fundraiser that featured a pig roast, games, a pig piñata, mechanical pig races and more.
work, because “she’s so often one of the people championing the acknowledgment of other people.”
Amy Stoller Stearns, the former director of the Historic Holmes Theatre (and a 2017 Women 360 honoree), has also worked with Johnston on a variety of projects.
“Carrie is a great resource for all things DL-related,” she said. “At the chamber, she has done so much to lift up others and give awards to others so it’s really wonderful to see her being recognized for her good work.
“Carrie is an excellent moderator and convener of people. She does an excellent job of leading a meeting, discussion or event such as the Economic Summit or the Women’s Edge (speaker series) events. She knows so much about Detroit Lakes and is great at looking at ideas from all angles and seeing where there could be pitfalls and suggesting ways to work around them. She also knows so many people in town and is a solid resource for information. Carrie also cares deeply for Detroit Lakes and her chamber members and being conscientious of their needs.”
Megan Smith, who took over
for Helen Foltz as owner-operator of the local Papa Murphy’s pizza shop this past year, agreed with the sentiments expressed by both Stearns and Gilsdorf.
“She (Carrie) will consistently sacrifice her own, personal time for the best interests of others,” said Smith. “What she does … it’s her job, but it isn’t. She just goes above and beyond. She has the pulse of everything, and she knows everybody.”
Smith added that Johnston had been a strong advocate and supporter for her, not only when she took over Papa Murphy’s, but before that, when she worked as operations manager at Detroit Mountain Recreation Area for many years.
“I’ve known Carrie probably 10 or 11 years,” she said. “The more I got to know her, the more I realized, she’s just crucial to this town. Her ability to network and put the right people together, knowing what’s coming down the pike and rallying different people for different things … she is ‘boots on the ground’ with everything she does. She’s so invested in the growth of this community. We don’t know how
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Contributed / Carrie Johnston A trio of past and present directors of the Becker County Historical Society and Museum attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the new museum building last year. From left, they include Amy Degerstrom, Becky Mitchell and Carrie Johnston.
lucky we are to have someone like that here.”
Johnston, for her part, says that she enjoys working with so many different businesses, people and community projects, in her job as well as in her free time, because “no two days are ever the same.”
She added that her family fostered her passion for community involvement from an early age. “I love to volunteer anywhere I can. I sit on the Boys & Girls Club endowment board and I try to be active in that. I’ve volunteered a lot with Polar Fest and the ice palace the last few years. And I’ve been a member of Kiwanis for the past 14 years.”
One of her favorite things that the chamber has done in the past few years was to establish the Splash Awards, which are designed to celebrate the impact and involvement of Detroit Lakes community volunteers. “I’m a big community cheerleader,” she said. “I love seeing growth in the community, and I’m excited for the new museum (scheduled to open during Polar Fest 2023) — I was part of some of the initial planning for that. I think every time this community dreams big, we can do some pretty amazing things.” n
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Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce volunteers (from left) Amanda and Chris Wolfe with Chamber President Carrie Johnston, manning the WE Fest Shuttle Bus ticket booth at the Becker County Fairgrounds in 2017. The Chamber has sponsored the WE Fest Shuttle for many years.
Contributed / Carrie Johnston Carrie Johnston posed for this photo with her fellow Ice Harvest Committee members on the throne of the Detroit Lakes 150th Anniversary Ice Palace in February 2022.
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A lakes area eatery empire
In only eight years, Gretchen Hunter has cemented her legacy in the local hospitality industry
BY MICHAEL ACHTERLING For Women 360
In only eight years, Gretchen Hunter has gone from Zorbaz employee to owner and operator of four of the finest bars and restaurants in the lakes area.
And, during her rise from summer bartender to four-time restaurant boss, she has never forgotten what makes her restaurants special: a loyal and dedicated staff, and strong community relationships with her patrons.
“We just really try to give back to the staff, give back to the community,” said Hunter. “We’re all human, we all want to succeed and it’s not about me, it’s about all of us.”
Her restaurants in the Detroit Lakes
area employ more than 100 people and can balloon greatly in size during the busy lakeside summer months.
“Our staff, we’ve had some at Brygge that have been with us since the beginning, day one,” said Hunter. “And in the restaurant industry, that’s kind of unheard of.”
She added they have tried to cultivate an extended-family atmosphere with their staff members. By being present, understanding and becoming a pillar for her employees to lean on, instead of feared, they’ve received continued loyalty from some of the hospitality industry’s finest.
During this past summer, Hunter
said, their restaurants were fully staffed at a time when every lakes area employer seemed to be searching for new employees.
“We have such a great support system between all of the stores and we can shuffle people around, and we are very, very flexible in that sense,” she said. “My mom, you’ll see her popping around and she’s kind of the grandma of the stores.”
James Boogaard, restaurant manager at Roasted Pub and Eatery, said Hunter keeps a level head, makes rational decisions and really focuses on what the community wants from their restaurants in town.
10 | WOMEN 360
Michael Achterling / Women 360 Gretchen Hunter, owner and operator of four lakes area restaurants, inspects a food ticket during a lunch shift in the kitchen at Hub 41 in Detroit Lakes.
“She has a really good sense of communication and has amazing leaders at every restaurant,” said Boogaard. He added the staffing flexibility among the chain of bars and eateries has led him to bartend a couple nights a week at Hub 41, which is great for a change of atmosphere and gives the opportunity of making a little extra cash during the summer.
Gretchen Hunter, 43, graduated from New Rockford High School in North Dakota, located about 60 miles north of Jamestown. Then, attended a few different colleges and eventually received a cosmetology license.
“I’ve kind of been all over,” said Hunter. “I went to school for elementary education, and then, did hair, and then,
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Michael Achterling / Women 360 Gretchen Hunter smiles next to the woodfire pizza oven at Roasted Pub and Eatery in Detroit Lakes.
“We just really try to give back to the staff, give back to the community. We’re all human, we all want to succeed and it’s not about me, it’s about all of us.”
I kept going back, I worked a summer job and it was at Zorbaz in Pelican (Rapids). And I worked there for 15 years.”
She met her husband Nate in 2002 while working at the famous lakes area pizza-mex chain. They married in 2004 and spent summers with both of their families, Gretchen’s family in Lida Township and Nate’s family on Pelican Lake.
Over the next 18 years, the Hunters added five children to their family all ranging from 4 to 15 years old, which made coordinating Gretchen and Nate’s work schedules difficult.
“I continued to work at Zorbaz well into my 30s and it just worked out that we started having kids,” she said. “I would work the nights and Nate would work days, so we didn’t have day care.”
In 2014, during the pregnancy and after the birth of their fourth child, Saige, Hunter said she became a little obsessed with a trendy new food spot in Perham that her friends had opened: Brew.
“It was just like, gouda pickles,” she said. “Not to be rude, but we didn’t even know what finer cheeses were … but I couldn’t get enough of them. So they are wrapped in an egg roll wrapper with gouda and pickle, and then they deep fry it.”
That fall, she jokingly messaged her friend that they should open a new location in Detroit Lakes, so she wouldn’t have to keep driving to Perham.
“By June (2015), we’re open and running a Brew (in Detroit Lakes),” said Hunter. “So that’s how we kind of got started.”
Brew would eventually be bought by the Hunters and transformed into Brygge Taps and Tastes a couple years later.
“We had kind of added our own flair to (Brygge) at that point anyway, but we still had funky food that was kind of trendy,” she said. “And then in 2017, we opened up Hub 41 with a little bit different concept. We went with kind of more fish and sandwiches.”
The restaurant’s name, Hunter said, is a combination of the name of the bar her grandparents owned in their hometown called: Hub, and in honor of her father’s jersey number: 41, when he played baseball at UND.
The lakeside bar and restaurant destination sports a second-floor patio overlooking Detroit Lake and has been a prime viewing spot for shoreline events and attractions since its opening. In 2020, Hub 41 added an ice cream scoop shack on their patio, which, Hunter said, has become a highly
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Michael Achterling / Women 360 Gretchen Hunter plates a pair of hamburgers during a lunch shift in the kitchen at Hub 41 in Detroit Lakes.
coveted summer job for many high school-aged workers in the area.
Also in 2020, the Hunters added a third entry to their local restaurant empire and entered into an ownership agreement with some investor friends to control the restaurant side of the Cormorant Pub.
As the COVID-19 pandemic controlled much of the service industry throughout the year, Hunter said they made a huge emphasis on outdoor seating areas at their locations and did what needed to be done to keep the restaurants open, and serving, as much as possible.
“In a lot of places after COVID, it was just a different world and it was just really brutal and we had to pull out all the stops and try everything you could possibly do.” she said. “But Detroit Lakes was amazing to us for curbside pickup, and then we started doing movies on the side of the
building at Hub 41, and order-to-go and … anything you could think of, we just did.”
Most recently, in January 2022, the Hunters added the most recent piece to their restaurant family when they acquired Roasted, a coffee, cafe, and fine dining experience, located on Washington Avenue in downtown Detroit Lakes.
“Christy (one of the former owners) still does her coffee with Chickadee and we still see her every week,” said Hunter.
All together, Hunter’s stable of four restaurants rivals the local Zorbazcontrolled properties, which include: the chain of pizza-mex mainstays across the region, Lakeside Brewery and Hotel Shoreham, among others.
“I am still friends with a lot of people who still work at Zorbaz and we go there and eat too,” she said. “They run a
great ship and I can’t take anything away from them, they’ve got it figured out and they know what they are doing and, it’s not really a competition.”
She added the hospitality community is really supportive of each other in the lakes area because, if one location does well, it spills over into other locations and creates an amazing string of lakes area destinations for residents, tourists or those just passing through.
“Small towns, love them,” said Hunter. “You’ve got to get out and support everyone.”
In summer of 2022, Hunter’s restaurants enjoyed a return to normalcy following two years of pandemic restrictions and the staff enjoyed one of their best summers in recent memory.
“No restrictions, the weather was amazing, we couldn’t have asked for a better summer to come back and just punch lights out,” said Hunter. “It was so refreshing just to see some normalcy, and then, now, (Detroit Lakes) downtown is beautiful and there are so many amazing stores down there now.”
Bre Schmidt, a server and bartender at Hub 41, described last summer simply as “busy.”
“Every day it was really busy and I think people were ready to come back out,” said Schmidt. “We also have great customers and it’s affordable.”
Schmidt added the individual atmosphere at each restaurant is a perfect example of Gretchen’s vision put into action.
“It’s bar food, but it’s different food,” she said. “(Gretchen) is really good at getting (college kids) to come back every year and the same people are coming back every summer.”
When asked what was next for Hunter’s chain of restaurants, Hunter responded, “I think you can get kind of greedy if you are always looking for the next thing and a lot of these just kind of happened. It wasn’t like I was looking.”
She added they plan on elevating the four restaurants they currently have and making them rock-solid with systems and staffing before they plan their next major move in the ever-growing lakes area restaurant landscape.
“It’s been actually a very fun journey, to be honest,” said Hunter. “The friendships I’ve made, the people I’ve met, the people we work with, even our reps, you can just build a friendship … and I would do it all again. All of it.”
WOMEN 360 | 13
Michael Achterling / Women 360 Gretchen Hunter smiles while grabbing a handful of bacon during a lunch shift in the kitchen at Hub 41 in Detroit Lakes.
“The friendships I’ve made, the people I’ve met, the people we work with, even our reps, you can just build a friendship … and I would do it all again. All of it.”
Running the town square
BY BARBIE PORTER For Women 360
Dawn Livdahl has spent a lifetime shifting with the push and pull of change. Her ability to see the wisdom in lessons learned has allowed for smooth transitions over bumpy ground, and it all began with swimming.
Growing up in rural Detroit Lakes, Livdahl took to the sport of swimming. While shy, she was a fearless competitor when it came to meeting her own expectations. With persistence to improve, she claimed a spot on the varsity swim team and received a compliment from a coach that shaped her future.
“She took me aside and complimented me on my drive,” Livdahl recalled. “That surprised me because I never thought
it was an attribute. It was just who I was. That compliment made me even more driven.”
The ambitious Detroit Lakes High School graduate had the bright lights of a big city in her eyes. When she was college-bound, Livdahl departed from familiar territory and touched down in Moorhead. There, she attended the college that is currently known as Minnesota State University Moorhead. While studying to be a pharmacist, Livdahl worked two jobs. While determined, she wasn’t obstinate.
“Chemistry didn’t click with me,” she said. “My chemistry tutor suggested I consider something business related instead (of a pharmacist career).”
Livdahl noted she had interest in business and decided to take the advice. She switched career paths and swam easily in the new stream. After graduating, she drove to the bustling metropolis of Minneapolis to give bigcity living a try.
“I never dreamed of ending up back here,” she said of her hometown. Ultimately, it was her heart that brought Livdahl back.
She raised two sons and became a business owner specializing in jewelry. While balancing work and family, she also dove into community groups, such as the Noon Rotary and Jaycees. The groups that emphasize service over self and volunteerism, she found a hidden
14 | WOMEN 360
Dawn Livdahl appreciates the daily challenges of mall management
Barbie Porter / Women 360 Dawn Livdahl began her career as the Washington Square Mall general manager in 2000.
passion for planning and being involved in community events.
“The Jaycees and Rotary groups really opened me up to the world of community service, and what it means to be the best person I can be, where I work and live,” she said.
Her combination of talents created a very appealing opportunity for the Washington Square Mall’s managing partners, who offered Livdahl the general manager position out of the blue. The timing was right to make a career change, and after discussing the opportunity with family and friends, she hit the ground running in June 2000.
“Both of my bosses – Ron Ohe, who
passed in 2005, and Wint Johnson, who passed just a couple of months ago, were great mentors,” Livdahl said.
She explained the men had a mantra that she still subscribes to today, “business begets business.”
“The more business and choices we have in DL, people will make DL their destination for shopping, dining, playing and services,” she said. “I firmly believed in that saying.”
Livdahl learned that managing a mall included making sure the property was maintained, how to promote events, bring in businesses, how to navigate a pandemic and all about fire mitigation, to name a few.
“The mall has changed a lot since I
took over (in June 2000),” she said, noting that when a department store closed she faced one of her first “big” challenges. The empty space remained vacant for a few years before a decision was made to return the space to its original design. A corridor was constructed, which allowed for more shops to be created.
Occupancy at the mall climbed after the 2008 recession. The staple businesses brought in generations of shoppers. There were also new merchants seeing if their wares were trendy enough to draw in a loyal customer base.
Livdahl said she believes the city’s redesign of downtown was a
Contributed / Dawn Livdahl Dawn Livdahl found success in her career because of life lessons she learned from her family and mentors.
WOMEN 360 | 15
“The Jaycees and Rotary groups really opened me up to the world of community services, and what it means to be the best person I can be, where I work and live.”
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From the files of the Tribune
See what this year’s featured women have been up to over the years
Given the roles they play in their communities, it should come as no surprise that the women in this year’s “Women 360” magazine have also appeared in the Detroit Lakes Tribune over the years.
Take a trip down memory lane with the file photos below, and see what they have been up to over the years.
18 | WOMEN 360
Kim Bettcher in 2009 with the children’s book she penned. The book includes simple instructions for playing football.
Breanna Adams in 2015, then the outgoing Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce chairwoman, presented then-Detroit Mountain Recreation Area General Manager Jeff Staley with a Tourism Award at a chamber banquet.
Helen Foltz and Les Froiland stand by the Little Free Library outside of Papa Murphy’s in Detroit Lakes in 2015.
Carrie Johnston speaks during the group’s annual meeting at the Holiday Inn in 2021.
Breanna Adams in 2010 standing in front of Chevy truck that was a part of the Poles ‘N’ Holes fishing derby.
Carrie Johnston, left, presented the Rising Star Award to Stacey Gravelle at a 2015 Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce banquet.
saving grace for the mall, and the business corridor.
“I believe they redesigned the streetscape in 2015 or 2016,” she said. “It made a big difference. It kept downtown desirable and beautifully welcoming.”
After riding high on renovations, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and changed everything. The vibrant mall and downtown were suddenly silent. At the end of March 20202, the state government announced a four week pause on many retail stores and eateries. Extensions to the pause turned weeks into months. While the medical community and government found their bearings during the pandemic, some retail shops were not able to withstand the storm, including Travel Travel.
Around the time the mall lost a longtime business, Livdahl began hearing whispers in the wind of a growing need for small office spaces, as many people preferred an office over working from home. Looking at the vacated space from the travel agency, Livdahl saw potential.
“We were able to re-create that space into 10 office rentals (that include utilities and internet access),” she said. “The spaces filled up pretty quickly and we only have a few open.”
Then, in early September 2021, a fire caused extensive damage to shops at the mall. The fire began on an apartment balcony, where an outside fire in a bowl spread, causing water and smoke damage to mall-owned units.
“I never thought mitigating smoke and water damage from a fire would be
one of my jobs,” Livdahl said, adding there were a few clothing stores that were closed for a month. “In those times, I learned to be calm on top and paddle like heck underneath.”
She attributed her ability to remain focused on tomorrow to her children. Livdahl, who is the mother of two adult children and a step-mom to an 8-yearold, said parenting shined a light on the importance of patience and keeping the big picture in mind on a road where there are bound to be a few potholes.
While Livdahl has achieved success as a general manager of a thriving mall, she also was blessed with true love when she met her husband Bill.
“I might not know what I want to be when I grow up, still,” she said. “But, I know that he gets me, and I get him.” n
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“The more business and choices we have in DL, people will make DL their destination for shopping, dining, playing and services,” she said. “I firmly believed in that saying.”
For the love of social work
BY TRIS ANDERSON For Women 360
Several boards and business make for a busy schedule for Helen Foltz. Foltz is the former owner of the Detroit Lakes Papa Murphy’s. She owned the business for almost 20 years before handing over the keys to a new owner in January. Even after selling it, Foltz remains just as active in the community.
Foltz grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, and her parents owned a cabin on Floyd Lake.
“We spent all our summers up here on this lake, so I did know a lot of people in town because I grew up with a lot of the kids that were the same age that I was,” Foltz said.
She moved to Detroit Lakes in 1989 and married her husband, Ken, in 1990.
Foltz had graduated with a degree in social work, and naturally, she began working as a social worker at Becker County Human Services when she and Ken first moved to the area.
She spent five years with the county before she and Ken welcomed their first child, Clem – who is now 29 years old –into the world. At that time, Foltz made the decision to take a step back from work to be a stay-at-home mom.
Helen and Ken would have two more kids, daughters Kathyrn, now 27 years old, and Stella, now 24 years old. They would also foster several other children
over a 12-year period.
By the early 2000s, Foltz was ready to get back into the workforce.
“Our children were all in school and I was looking for something to do because I did want to work, I like to work, I like to do something out of the house …” she said.
Foltz happened to stop by the Detroit Lakes Papa Murphy’s and mentioned to the then-owner that if she was interested in selling, she should reach out to Foltz.
“She originally said, ‘no,’ but then maybe about six months later, she just said, ‘yes.’ She didn’t give me much notice, I mean literally, she told me one
20 | WOMEN 360
Helen Foltz has taken every opportunity to better her community and help those around her
Contributed / Helen Foltz
Helen Foltz’s family, from left: granddaughter Itasca, daughter Kathryn, daughter-in-law Christine, granddaughter Afton, son Clem, daughter Stella, Helen and husband Ken.
day and was like ‘You gotta start right now,’” Foltz said.
And just like that, Foltz jumped head first into the world of Papa Murphy’s. She got some training, but for the most part, she was learning on the job.
“It is intense, Papa Murphy’s is open seven days a week. We’re only closed three days a year, so normally you have a job and it’s Monday through Friday and you get two days off a week, Papa Murphy’s you don’t get any time off,” she said.
To some, the jump from social
worker to pizza boss might seem disconnected, even random, but Foltz said that isn’t the case.
“You do a ton of social work at Papa Murphy’s, you do, and at Papa Murphy’s, even currently, I had kids that lived with me in foster care that I hired. I knew a lot of my people because I knew them from social work …” she said.
During her nearly 20-year ownership of Papa Murphy’s, Foltz prioritized hiring high school students and people going through court.
WOMEN 360 | 21
“The thing about Papa Murphy’s, it does seem like it’s just a pizza place, but we support a lot of stuff in the community and we’re active in everything in the community. They sell pizzas at the concession stands, we support every benefit. ” -Helen Foltz
1050 Hwy 59 S Detroit Lakes 847-9775 ddappliance.net 2022
Tris Anderson / Women 360 Helen Foltz worked for Becker County Human Services for five years. She eventually purchased Papa Murphy’s and ran the business for 20 years, all while continuing her social work.
She gained a reputation for this practice, so much so that people going through court and struggling to find work were often told to visit Papa Murphy’s and speak to her about a job, she said.
For high school students, it gave them a steady paycheck and a chance to build their résumés.
“They’re really good workers and they’re smart,” Foltz said about her student workers.
The two groups worked well for Papa Murphy’s, with students working night shifts and adults working day shifts.
“The thing about Papa Murphy’s, it does seem like it’s just a pizza place, but we support a lot of stuff in the community and we’re active in everything in the community. They sell pizzas at the concession stands, we support every benefit,” Foltz said.
In early 2022, Foltz sold Papa Murphy’s to Megan Smith, who had approached Foltz about buying it roughly five years before.
At the time, Foltz recommended that Smith wait for her kids to enter school, just as Foltz had done before taking ownership.
When Smith took over ownership, Foltz stayed on for several months to
help with the transition.
“We had a long transition period because there was a lot for Megan to learn and the last thing we wanted to
do was upset the staff and have them turnover, so we worked together for quite a few months while Megan learned everything and January 1st she took
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Nathan Bowe / Detroit Lakes Tribune File Photo
Helen Foltz working at Papa Murphy’s. She owned the business for nearly 20 years before selling to it to her friend Megan Smith.
over,” Foltz said.
The pair’s friendship goes back many years. Foltz and Smith have similar outlooks and goals, primarily helping those who are underserved. This led to a quick and easy friendship between the two.
“She’s just like a younger version of me, she has more energy, she’s got it all. She’s just a really good worker, she’s a great person,” Foltz said about Smith.
Smith also noted how similar they are.
“We both have the same passion of hiring people and working to their strengths and figuring out what works, because unfortunately, we’re in a world where people judge a book by its cover before they have the opportunity to see if that person’s worth their weight,” Smith said.
They regularly worked together to help secure jobs for people. Once someone was ready to leave Papa Murphy’s, the two would collaborate since Smith worked for several local companies over the years.
Smith sees Foltz as a mentor, not only helping her learn the ropes at Papa Murphy’s but showing her how to be active in the community.
“I have huge shoes to fill in her world. However, I couldn’t be more thankful
for the standard that she set and the practice of taking care of people,” Smith said.
Although the two have been close for quite some time, Smith is now truly seeing the scope and range of Foltz’s generosity and community involvement.
“Watching her philanthropy for years (go) under the radar is just unbelievable. I know now more than ever with the business … We’re talking all the way (to) Wadena, New York Mills … Her range and depth of generosity and kindness knows no bounds. There’s no top to it,” Smith said.
A retirement party was held for Foltz in January at Detroit Mountain, where friends and family gathered to celebrate her.
Retirement may have been a misnomer, however, because Foltz hasn’t completely closed the door on pizza and social work. She still owns a Papa Murphy’s in Little Falls, Minnesota, and makes weekly trips to the store.
In the last year, she’s also joined several boards. She’s a member of the Detroit Lakes Public Utilities Board, Detroit Mountain Board and the Becker County Children’s Initiative Board. Foltz has been a member of the Children’s Initiative Board for 27 years.
“I am still really busy, plenty busy. I just replaced it (the Detroit Lakes Papa Murphy’s) with other things …” Foltz said.
She’s also an officer in the Minneapolis Papa Murphy’s co-op and on a marketing board for Papa Murphy’s corporate.
Her oldest child, Clem, and his wife have two children, a 2 ½-year-old and a one-month-old. That means plenty of overnight trips to Minneapolis to lend a helping hand.
“It’s great … We get down there a lot to visit them. It’s really fun,” she said.
She also helps her parents, who live just a couple doors down from her on Floyd Lake.
Foltz’s biggest supporter has been her husband, who owns Foltz Trucking.
“My husband’s been a great support to me over the years. He supports all my crazy little ideas that I have,” she said.
Between family, boards and business, Foltz is certain to remain busy for the foreseeable future, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I just encourage people to get involved in their community and try new things,” she said. n
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‘She’s just been a rock star the whole time’
BY NATHAN BOWE For Women 360
Breanna Adams has made a positive impact both on Detroit Lakes, where she is director of clinic operations at Sanford Health, and Perham, where she grew up and graduated from high school.
“I feel like I’ve got one foot in DL and one foot in Perham,” she said with a laugh.
She’s done well in Detroit Lakes, where she took the helm of the Sanford Health Clinic before she turned 30, and believes strongly in the powers of
positive work culture, and in serving patients locally.
She likes being involved in all aspects of the clinic: behavioral health, primary care, specialty care, retail services, surgery, lab, imaging and everything else.
“I work with patients, doctors, staff – I love being boots on the ground –and my job is very diverse, it’s never boring,” Adams said. “My job is to make sure clinicians can focus on patients and provide the best care possible here, so
they don’t have to go to Fargo.”
She has been successful in Detroit Lakes for a variety of reasons.
“She’s been phenomenal,” said Jordan Ottoson, executive director health networks at Sanford. “I joined (Sanford) a year or two after she started – she’s just been a rock star the whole time. She’s really big on a positive culture, and her relationship skills are second to none.”
Adams has also been active in the Detroit Lakes community: She works
24 | WOMEN 360
With a positive attitude and hard work, Breanna Adams has helped make Sanford Health Clinic in Detroit Lakes a success
Contributed / Breanna Adams
Sanford Health Detroit Lakes Director of Clinic Operations Breanna Adams and Dr. Jaimie Deraney take the Polar Plunge together for the Boys & Girls Club in February.
closely with the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce and is a board member for the Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corp. As a Rotary member, she helped launch the popular Poles ‘N’ Holes ice fishing derby for the morning club, and is now a member of the Noon Rotary Club.
“She’s big on getting involved in the community, both in Perham and the Detroit Lakes area,” Ottoson added. “She has the whole work-hard, play-hard mindset that is very successful. She’s fun to be around – very vibrant and full of energy.”
Adams learned the importance of community involvement and customer service early in life: She was born and raised in Perham, where her parents,
The Adams kids at Dunton Locks County Park. From left are: Isaac, 14, Cooper, 8, Reva, 6, and Alex, 11.
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“I work with patients, doctors, staff — I love being boots on the ground — and my job is very diverse, it’s never boring. ”
Contributed / Breanna Adams
Steve and Connie Richter, own the venerable Richter’s Men’s Wear. “Nadine’s was always right next door – they do women’s (clothing) and Richter’s does men’s (clothing),” she said. Together, they were kind of like the Norby’s Department Store of Perham, Adams said.
It was a shock when Nadine’s recently announced it was going out of business. After all, Adams grew up helping her parents at Richter’s Men’s Wear, and she and her two older brothers (along with other family members) still get together and help run the store during busy periods.
“Dad was in the Jaycees and was very involved in the chamber (of commerce),” she said. “Ever since I was 5 years old I’ve done customer service, giving out change. I’ve worked a lot of customer service jobs, which everyone needs to do,” she added.
Adams said two important decisions in life are what school to go to and who to marry. She has both areas covered:
Her husband, Curt Adams, loves the outdoors, and has been process manager at HCB, Inc. in Detroit Lakes for the past six years. He is an electrician and plans to go into business for himself next year, she said. They
have four children: Isaac, 14, Alex, 11, Cooper, 8, and Reva, 6.
Adams went to Concordia College and earned a bachelor’s degree in health care administration and long-term care administration. “I always knew I wanted to go into business and work with people,” she said. “I picked a field I knew little about, but I’m so glad I did go into it – the people and the work are amazing.”
She was just 21 years old at graduation, so she went directly on to get her master’s degree in health administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead.
Her first job after that was in the Twin Cities, employed by a private firm and working with customers who were medical specialists. “It was great,” she said. “I had two bosses who were really different – one taught me all about the business side, and the other taught me all about the relationship side.”
She enjoyed the Twin Cities, but missed the sense of community in towns the size of Perham and Detroit Lakes. So when she had a shot at the Detroit Lakes clinic job, she took it. “I started in September of 2009, when it was still MeritCare Clinic,” she said.
A month later, MeritCare merged
with Sanford Health, and the Detroit Lakes clinic was approved for a big expansion project that included a new surgery center, the clinic also added computerized tomography (CT) imaging equipment, and Adams also oversaw a major transition – from the Centricity medical record system to the Epic medical record system.
“Those first two or three years were probably my toughest years,” she said.
“Our whole focus was to keep services close to home,” she added. “The organization has been very good to Detroit Lakes – they understand the value of this clinic – with resources, equipment, help with recruiting.” For example, she said, “we wanted Max (Disse, the new dermatologist) here, so we’re going to invest in him.”
Adams “has a really good strategic vision of the future,” Ottoson said. “Then, like a Rottweiler on a bone, the tenacity to push it through. She’s done really well here.”
One benefit to working at a clinic is that it has regular business hours, while hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities need staff every day, around the clock.
“It’s not open 24-7, so you don’t have to staff for that,” Adams said. “That’s
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why I’ve always stayed on the clinic side of things. There’s less money at a clinic, but you’re not working nights, weekends, holidays – a lot of working moms need the flexibility.”
It was a huge challenge when the pandemic hit, but the clinic stayed open through it all, adhering to policies and procedures set by Sanford Health to maintain patient and staff safety. “I don’t think anyone was prepared for that (the pandemic),” she said, but thanks in large part to Detroit Lakes City Administrator Kelcey Klemm, one big thing the Detroit Lakes community got right was sharing information.
Klemm coordinated weekly, and later twice-monthly, COVID-19 meetings with medical, law enforcement, school and other community leaders, which was invaluable, Adams said.
“We knew what Essentia was doing, we knew what the schools were doing, so we were all on the same page,” she said.
The labor market is still kind of up in the air, but in general, hiring has not been a problem at Sanford, she added, saying that the clinic is willing to wait for the right person to fill an opening. “We’ll go without rather than hire the wrong person,” she said.
“People are the best part of the job and the hardest part of the job,” she added. “We address conflict – that’s
why we have such good retention here. We’re very successful with that positive culture in the clinic.” n
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Nathan Bowe / Women 360 Breanna Adams was recently inducted into the Perham High School Athletic Hall of Fame for accomplishments in volleyball, basketball and softball.
Kim Bettcher promotes inclusivity through local programs
BY JARED RUBADO For Women 360
The Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center has served thousands of people in the community for 21 years.
People, young and old, have used the DLCCC for sports, clubs or just a reason to get out of the house. It’s grown into one of Detroit Lakes’ social hubs, and Kim Bettcher has been there from the beginning.
Bettcher grew up in St. Cloud before attending Bemidji State University for sports management. She took her degree to Crookston and worked at a pool before moving to Detroit Lakes and accepting a job in Perham. Two years later, in 2001, she found a more permanent home.
“We heard Detroit Lakes was going to be building something,” Bettcher said. “Sooner or later, I was hired at the DLCCC. I laugh at it now, but I was a certified fitness instructor. I’m super uncoordinated, but I passed the certification for step classes. Dance is definitely not my strong suit.”
“I helped start the community center with four other people at the time,’ Bettcher said. “I was the fitness and aquatics director. That meant I helped teach swim lessons, lifeguarded, taught water aerobics and was in charge of the fitness classes. During this time, we were trying to figure out what the community needed.”
Bettcher’s position evolved towards marketing as the DLCCC grew.
“We’ve expanded and hired more people over the years,” Bettcher said. “My role is now the marketing and membership director. I look at it like it’s our job to fill holes if there’s a need in the community. With the membership piece of it, I get to work with people of all ages.”
Bettcher has always been communityoriented. Working at the DLCCC allows her to fulfill her purpose of being part of something greater than herself.
“Stu Omberg (the former DLCCC CEO) says, ‘We build the community center and put stuff in, but it’s the
28 | WOMEN 360
Contributed / Kim Bettcher
From left to right: Kim, Jake, Alex, Elle and Josh Bettcher at Lakeshirts Fieldhouse at Detroit Lakes High School.
members that breathe life into it,’” Bettcher said. “Our goal is to make a commitment to the community. What are this community’s needs, and how can we keep people active? There are other places for fitness in the area, but we don’t see ourselves competing against them. We’re there to fill in the spaces that other places in the community can’t provide.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the DLCCC shut its doors. While at home, Bettcher realized how much she missed seeing locals and regulars every day.
“It’s the people and my coworkers,” Bettcher said. “I think us having to close in March of 2020 for the pandemic made me realize it again. I really felt
burnt out before it, but I cried when we closed. I was crying because I knew it wouldn’t be two weeks. There were going to be members we wouldn’t see again. That experience made me realize how much I love this place.”
Bettcher and her husband, Josh, moved to Detroit Lakes for career opportunities. Kim found a role in Perham while Josh was coaching and teaching in the school system. Once they settled in, Detroit Lakes became a home.
“I can’t put a finger on when I knew Detroit Lakes was going to be more permanent,” Bettcher said. “I think it was maybe when our kids started in school. I always wanted to be a little closer to home. Josh’s parents were
older than my parents, and Crookston was a five and half hour drive. Once we had kids, we wanted to be a little closer. For us, with the coaching, work opportunities and the area to raise our kids, Detroit Lakes was just a good fit.”
“This might be hard for people to believe, but I’m actually an introvert by nature,” Bettcher said. “In Detroit Lakes, you can choose to be as involved as you want to be. There’s something to be part of here for everybody. As Detroit Lakes expanded, it made it easier for us not to want to move.”
Bettcher has three children. Jake is a football player at Minnesota State University-Moorhead, while Alex is in her first year on the women’s basketball
WOMEN 360 | 29
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team at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Elle is in her junior year at Detroit Lakes High School, with aspirations of continuing her athletic career in college.
Bettcher’s kids grew up at the DLCCC. It was a place that played a vital role in their development as athletes and people.
“I took the job at the DLCCC when Jake was a few months old,” Bettcher said. “I have pictures from before we opened of him crawling around. There are kids in this community that don’t know what this community is without the DLCCC. My kids are part of that. They’ve grown up there, which is nice because I knew it was a safe place to be.”
The Bettcher family has left its mark on Detroit Lakes athletics. Along with the kids playing at a high level, Josh has coached several Laker high school teams. Kim and Josh are also part of the Laker Booster Club.
“I got asked to be part of it because I had social media and we had kids coming up,” Bettcher said. “That group’s commitment to Laker athletics is so special. It supports every single club, and we’re really mindful of it. If the school can’t take care of something, they come to us, and we do our best within the parameters we’ve set. We’re mindful of what we’ve given to certain clubs. We impact every single student-athlete.”
Bettcher runs the booster club’s social media accounts, which promote local athletics year-round.
“It’s given so much,” Bettcher said. “The Boosters are important because they encourage kids to be part of activities. It’s not just about their physical health but also their mental
30 | WOMEN 360
Contributed / Kim Bettcher
Kim Bettcher runs a booth for the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center.
health. The lessons learned from sports are so valuable as well.”
Bettcher also uses her social media reach to shine a light on underappreciated women’s sports.
“Title IX can be a hot-button term for people,” Bettcher said. “When I was growing up, I was one of two girls in St. Cloud playing soccer. When my mom
was growing up, she could only be a cheerleader. Getting the chance to try things and learn lessons from sports are so important. Learning how to succeed and learning how to fail – these are important. Building relationships with teammates and coaches are also a big part of sports. You can’t replace these things.”
While she admits there’s a long way to go, Bettcher believes equal representation in sports is an achievable goal for future generations.
“We can’t expect men’s and women’s sports to be equal in 5-10 years, but I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Bettcher said. “I think it’s important to talk about these inequalities in sports. My two girls don’t know what it’s like not to have opportunities to play sports. They’ve had them their whole lives. Having those conversations so people of all ages know where we’ve come from and where it’s going while encouraging kids to participate is something I’m passionate about.”
Bettcher is quick to pass the credit to the people around her, but her commitment to team success is second to none.
“Whether I’m marketing an engagement program at the DLCCC or doing stuff with the Boosters, I want my impact to help the community,” Bettcher said. “I want to have a positive impact on people’s lives. I get to be part of really great teams everywhere in my life. Being part of something that helps the community is what keeps me going.” n
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From left to right: Kim, Alex, Jake, Elle and Josh Bettcher at Mollberg Field at Detroit Lakes High School.
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