Fail, Survive, or Thrive

October 10, 2022 @ 12:00am

Yesterday was an interesting day for me. After putting my all into a Post Dobbs brief, it was time to present it to two hundred plus registrants with two co-conspirators. Thanks Adrian-for that terminology. There was passion, there was fire, and there was anger. The position individuals have been put in, in my home state, is nauseating. The tip of the iceberg has been exposed, and this political chaos plans to dive deep.


And that is how I wound up here. Sitting in my office, writing the first entry to my blog. I keep looking behind me to a cream-colored plush chair. Feeling if I should be sitting over there with a cup of coffee, relaxed and letting the juices flow. However, a) I do not drink coffee and b) I do not relax. I run on high octane from sunup to sundown. Although it should be from son up to son down as my two boys are influential in the high octane.

But after presenting yesterday, I was talking with my COO and Business Development and Marketing Specialist. Jerry remarked, you have a lot to say that people do not get to hear. (Ben and Jerry get to hear it everyday as they are a few offices away). And that is where the idea of a blog was born. So, follow me weekly as we dive into leadership, operations, and politics. You are going to get a front row seat to one of the greatest soap operas ever created. The reality of the world we live in, and how it impacts a booming non-profit in central Wisconsin and the clients we serve.

But let us start, though, by getting to know the woman behind the keyboard. I am a nurse by trade but leader by nature. I am outspoken, passionate, and fierce with a fire that runs deep. My husband also says that I am stubborn, he may be right.

After completing by BSN at Edgewood College in Madison, WI, I moved to rural South Dakota. There I worked as a nurse at a critical access hospital in Chamberlain, adjacent to the Crow Creek and Lower Brule Native American Reservations. That is where my passion for public health and prevention blossomed. After seeing the same patients, week after week, being met with severe inequities, I transitioned into public health nursing.

There is one patient that I remember vividly to this day. She was the same age as me, young and full of fire. However, she repeatedly entered into my care through the emergency department in DKA, diabetic ketoacidosis. She was diabetic and her blood sugars were through the roof, time and time again. We would fight to find intravenous access, hands, feet, head, etc.; wherever we could find access to start the fluids. Then stabilize and life-flight out to a higher level of care. I needed to find a way to intervene. Was me switching to public health nursing going to save that one patient? No, but it would give me the opportunity to make positive impact on so many others.

After returning to school and obtaining my Master of Public Health with an emphasis in policy and administration from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska; I eventually began working for the South Dakota Department of Health as a public health regional manager. I loved that job! Every part of it. However, life happens, and our second baby came. We loved South Dakota and the life we built there, but grammies and papas were over eight hours away; leading to our decision to look for something back in Wisconsin.

I often refer to this situation as the time I threw a hail Mary and it was caught in the endzone, which is odd because I am not a huge football fan. I applied for a CEO position in Wausau, WI for a non-profit reproductive health and WIC clinic. After a few interviews, and a trip to Wisconsin to meet the team-I was hired for the position. This position has allowed me to focus on my true passions: reproductive health and maternal and child health.

And since this job and my boys do not keep me busy enough, I am working on completing by Doctorate in Business Administration. Hold on for this wild ride, as I work to navigate this crazy environment with you as my passengers.

About the author: Jessica Scharfenberg
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