Supporter Spotlight: Shannon Bielski

This month we are pleased to celebrate longtime supporter, Shannon Bielski! Shannon has been a consistent presence with the YWRC and we know we can absolutely count on her to see each project through.

“My first involvement with YWRC was 15 years ago, when I attended my first Polk County Women Attorneys Basket Auction to benefit YWRC. I love giving and receiving gifts with themes, so basket auctions are a particular favorite of mine!”

Since that initial event 15 years ago, Shannon has continued her involvement through a variety of projects:

“I had the pleasure of serving on the 2018 40th Anniversary Committee and helped to plan the ‘Female Firsts’ event. I’ve prepared auction baskets for the Polk County Women Attorney’s auction and the YWRC Gala silent auction. I volunteered through my employers (DLL and now Wells Fargo) to stock the Louise Noun library and refresh paint in 2022. I am a frequent donor and try to attend as many events as my schedule allows (the YWRC Gala, Sex Trivia Night, Celebrity Servers, etc.). I am currently staying active by volunteering on the Advisory Board.”

With such dedicated support throughout 15 years, we were curious to learn what keeps Shannon motivated to collaborate with the YWRC.

“I continue to be motivated by YWRC’s mission to empower participants to be strong, self-confident, and resilient. YWRC’s participants are at a key moment in their lives that can frankly make or break them. Girls and young women need so many voices of support during those years to drown out the negative self-talk and peer pressure. YWRC offers those voices and teaches its participants to have the confidence to advocate for themselves.

The network of supporters of YWRC is unmatched. I’m never surprised to see some of my favorite like-minded men and women also in attendance at an event. I believe YWRC supporters live the mission in our careers and in our community. We either possess (or are constantly striving for) the skill of being able to impart confidence and empower others. This is likely what draws us to support this great organization; living the mission makes our lives more fulfilling, too.”

One of the moments that was most impactful and deepened Shannon’s connection to the YWRC occurred while she volunteered on our 40th Anniversary Committee.

“I remember getting goosebumps as we prepared for the ‘Female Firsts’ in 2018, which was an event to recognize women from Iowa or with close ties to Iowa who were the first to accomplish something (examples included the first Iowa woman to summit Mt. Everest and the first woman on the Meskwaki Tribal Council). Many of the women received their recognition posthumously, but most were alive. The fact that many women were still the “first” in 2018 was very eye-opening to our Committee. It begs the question of how much earlier these feats could have been accomplished by women if all girls and young women had the support of organizations like YWRC.”

Support of key people in an individual’s life can also be very inspiring and make a tremendous impact.

“My Aunt Donna was a big role model for me as a child and continues to be one of the first people I call for advice. She ran for State Representative in Kansas in 2020 – despite losing her race, I was inspired by her character and her willingness to find other ways in which to benefit her State. Maria Volante was the first role model that came to mind for me today. When I stumble over what to say or am stuck in my own head, she can always articulate the message. I prefer a pen to a microphone, so she gives me something to aspire to each time we’re in the same room.”

Shannon’s advice to girls and young women today is: “Ignore the loudest voices – focus on your inner voice and the voices of your fiercest advocates.”

Even with busy schedule and YWRC commitments, Shannon continues to find ways to serve our community.

“I recently joined the Finance Committee for the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. I enjoy packing meals for Meals from the Heartland and supporting United Way of Central Iowa. As a member of DSM Financial Executive Women (“FEW”), I get exposure to a lot of new volunteer activities through quarterly social events. In September, 15 of our DSM FEW women prepared 30 lasagnas for a great non-profit called Lasagna Love.”

When Shannon does have free time, she enjoys a variety of activities.

“I’m an avid reader of all genres and usually am reading several books at one time. I love to travel and play games with my son (he recently taught me chess and now beats me all of the time). I also enjoy spending time outside with my husband and son hiking, doing yardwork, or going for walks. I spend an embarrassing amount of time tending to houseplants and spoiling our two housecats.”

Three things you may not know about Shannon are:

  • She’s visited 13 countries and is excited to see more of the world.
  • She loves water but is a terrible swimmer…atrocious.
  • She and her family visit a National Park every year.

Thank you, Shannon, for being a fierce advocate of the girls and young women in our community. We are grateful for all the countless hours you’ve given to support and advance the YWRC’s mission. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have you as part of our team. Thank you!