North Dakota Champion of Women in Business recognized by USA TODAY


Christy Dauer is one of USA TODAY’s Women of the Year, a recognition for women who have made a significant impact in their communities and across the country. The program launched in 2022 as a follow-up to Women of the Century, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Meet this year’s honorees at

Christy Dauer has been helping her church since she was 6 years old. Her first volunteer job in her hometown of West Fargo, North Dakota was with the Veterans of Foreign War’s “Junior Girls,” where she would listen to war veterans’ stories while playing bingo with them.

Today, Dauer is executive director of the North Dakota Women’s Business Center and a member of the five-member North Dakota Commission on the Status of Women, where she works to advance women’s economic empowerment in the state.

“I like being a community champion,” she said.

Dauer left the corporate world to help women find the skills and resources they need to be successful business owners. From free leadership training to financial literacy and equitable access to capital, Dauer helps North Dakota women gain access to the tools they need to run their businesses successfully. For her work empowering other women, Dauer was named USA TODAY’s North Dakota Woman of the Year.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Who paved the way for you?

As a leader, once you’ve climbed your way to the top, you often feel, “Okay, I got here, that’s it for me.” But I think about how I can help others get there too , so I reach out and offer to help. I think that’s why I jumped from America’s corporate world into the nonprofit world.

I listened to my grandma on her deathbed and she gave me some advice. She said, “You know, Christy, you don’t have to be everything to everyone.” And it took a year for the words to really sink into what she was trying to say there.

Christy Dauer, on the advice of her grandmother
“You don’t have to be everything for everyone.” And it took a year for the words to really sink into what she was trying to say there.

What's your proudest moment?

I really like to see the positive. i have two boys And I’ve been asked many times, “You work so hard in the church; you work so hard for everyone else; why aren’t you at home with your kids?” And that’s really hard – this mommy shame, this mommy guilt is so real.

And so I think in the face of negativity, just pushing my 8 and 10 year olds… My proudest moment is through the eyes of my boys trying to grow and navigate a very different world than we grew up.

Christy Dauer sits down with a business owner at a local women's salon in North Dakota.  Dauer is USA TODAY's Women of the Year honoree for North Dakota.

Christy Dauer sits down with a business owner at a local women’s salon in North Dakota. Dauer is USA TODAY’s Women of the Year honoree for North Dakota.
Rachel Neva

What is your definition of courage?

I think my courage can be found during my journey with cancer. I was the community champion; I was the one who helped plan meal trains or social services or raise money or talk about health etc. And when I was diagnosed it takes courage.

Courage is the ability to face and overcome adversity and the pursuit of goals.

i wanted to live

Is there a guiding principle or mantra that you tell yourself?

It’s important to realize that we all have limitations. It’s impossible to please everyone. I think we sit at different tables in each season of our lives. And in both we have opportunities and challenges.

Again, I’ll come back to that, you know what I mentioned earlier, my grandma is dying. I sat with her as she faced her own struggle and she said, “Christy, you don’t have to be everything to everyone.” It changed my life, but it took me a year to realize I was exhausted – I was almost burned out. And I didn’t have to be everyone’s everything.

And so, this guiding principle has helped me focus on my goals and the impact I can make. The work I do in the community continues the impact and helps others achieve their goals.

Who do you have or look up to?

Every woman who was there. It’s so cliche, but it’s true. I feed on the energy of women supporting women in a space.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Go the extra mile – it’s never crowded. Write down your plans in pencil. You never know what’s around the corner. Invest in the human capital: your friends and family. Know when to go. Sometimes “no” means saying “yes” to something else.



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