Shawna Forsberg took a big risk. Recently, she shared with Leaders and Lattes attendees how that risk led to her dream job.

Leaders and Lattes is a monthly employee engagement series hosted by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s (BCBSNE) Young Professionals (YP) Connect group. At the event, a guest speaker provides insight into their career during a question and answer session.

Forsberg, president and CEO of United Way of the Midlands (UWM), shared her journey to her current role, including her transition from corporate marketing to the nonprofit sector.

“It was a harder transition than I thought it would be, but it was the right choice,” Forsberg said. “Convincing people to buy into what you do is what fundraising is.”

Forsberg started at UWM as senior vice president of marketing. When UWM’s previous CEO, Karen Bricklemyer, died unexpectedly, Forsberg was asked to take on the role of interim president.

She agreed and said it was her biggest risk. Forsberg was later appointed to her current role of president and chief executive officer.

“It was a really humbling experience,” she said.

At Leaders and Lattes, Forsberg touched on the importance of finding mentors and said when it comes to leadership, authenticity is important.

“We’re all people trying to do the best we can,” Forsberg said. “We’re all born with certain gifts, and most people have mentors and other people helping them along the way.”

Forsberg recommends surrounding yourself with the best and brightest and said she looks for employees who have a “can-do” spirit.

Forsberg said she is most proud of her kids and while she didn’t know it at the time, her current role is her dream job.

“I want to spend my life making a difference,” Forsberg said. “I’m really proud to live a life where I feel like I’m giving back.”

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