Each year, TeamWomen recognizes and celebrates women who have excelled in a typically male-dominated profession or industry. Get to know this year’s Uncharted Territory Honorees below, and join us on October 12th at Metropolitan Ballroom & Club to celebrate this exceptional group of women at our 2023 WaveMaker Awards!
With a 38-year stellar career in engineering, Lisa Breuer stands as the epitome of dedication, resilience, and groundbreaking accomplishments. She has not only been nationally recognized by the National Society of Professional Engineers as their “National Young Engineer of the Year” (a unique honor as the sole Minnesotan to ever clinch this award) but also boasts an impressive array of accolades, including the ACEC/MN President’s Award and the Private Practice Merit Award.
Lisa’s journey as a female engineer wasn’t without its challenges. Early on, she realized her position in a male-dominated field meant garnering respect demanded extra effort. However, Lisa leveraged her skills, understanding that standing out amidst a sea of male engineers was an asset: it made her memorable. This recognition propelled her to be deeply involved in professional organizations, which honed her leadership skills and expanded her professional network.
Her unwavering commitment is evident in her service on numerous boards, reflecting her intent to give back to her profession, alma mater, and community at large. Lisa shattered stereotypes, becoming the first woman on the Iron Mining Association Board of Directors and the second woman to preside as the state President of the Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers. With her entrepreneurial spirit, she established her own consulting engineering firm for over a decade, all while juggling the responsibilities of motherhood.
Lisa’s technical prowess is showcased in her role as an esteemed engineering project manager. Her portfolio spans a vast spectrum, including VA pre-design coordination, flood control, wastewater treatment plants, solar projects, mine permitting, and pipeline construction management. Equipped with an arsenal of skills ranging from stakeholder coordination and agency interaction to engineering design, Lisa has consistently displayed an impeccable record in overseeing all project phases and steering multidisciplinary teams.
Notably, beyond her technical acumen, Lisa also shines in the limelight of popular culture. As a Minnesota Viking Cheerleader alumni, she graced the covers of both CE (Civil Engineering) News magazine and Viking Update, and was later inducted into the MVC Alumni Hall of Fame.
The ethos of Lisa’s journey can perhaps be best encapsulated by a poem she penned as a 7-year-old: “What can a little girl be? She can be most anything she wants to be!” Indeed, Lisa has lived every word of it, continually pushing boundaries and setting unprecedented benchmarks!
With four decades in the banking industry, Dorothy Bridges exemplifies unwavering dedication to community and economic advancement. Much of her illustrious career has been deeply intertwined with commercial and community development lending, notably emphasizing minority, small business, and development markets.
Currently steering the ship as the CEO & President of Meda (Metropolitan Economic Development Association), Dorothy has placed Meda on a trajectory of significant growth. Under her visionary leadership, she introduced a strategic plan to increase lending capital to $220 million within a span of three years. Meda is now primed to procure a substantial $245 million in funding to implement this strategy. Dorothy is also a member of the US Bancorp (USB) Board of Directors, where she serves on the Risk Management Committee and is a chair of the Public Responsibility Committee.
From the onset of her career, Dorothy recognized the pressing need for economic resources specifically tailored for Black communities. Drawing from her family’s civil rights legacy, and undeterred by the challenges she faced as a Black woman, her resilience has been a testament to her unwavering commitment. As a founding member of the African American Community Development Corporation, she has been instrumental in amplifying African American voices in the Twin Cities, with the aim to boost economic opportunities and maximize returns on investments. Her dedication further shines through her involvement with the African American Alliance of CDFI, CEOs, and the Catalyst Coalition of BIPOC small business nonprofit lenders. A passionate advocate for the next generation of female professionals, Dorothy consistently leverages her position to open doors for historically underserved communities.
Dorothy has served on various boards across our community including the University of Minnesota Foundation, Greater Twin Cities United Way, and Minneapolis Parks Foundation. In 2023, Dorothy received MSPBJ’s 200 Black Leaders Award and Celebrating the Sistas Award.
As Deputy Head of U.S. Wealth Management Fixed Income at RBC Wealth Management – U.S., Nicole Dunham has seamlessly blended her role with her mission as a visionary leader. Overseeing trading, marketing, and risk management across both taxable and tax-exempt securities, she has been instrumental in enhancing the proficiency of RBC’s 2,100+ financial advisors. Since joining RBC in 2005, Nicole rapidly climbed the corporate ladder, transitioning from a structured investments trader to spearheading the Fixed Income Business Development team in 2014, dedicated to nurturing relationships with the firm’s advisors.
However, her professional accomplishments are just one facet of her persona. Nicole is fiercely passionate about championing women in the traditionally male-dominated finance sector. Recognizing the disparity and challenges faced by women, she masterminded the Women Empowered (WE) resource group and kickstarted RBC Wealth Management’s Women’s Summit, creating a platform for empowerment, education, and networking. Her commitment to fostering female talent was acknowledged when she clinched the “Breakthrough Leader” accolade by Tradeweb Direct’s Global Women’s Network in 2022.
Her educational background is equally illustrious. An alumnus of Arizona State University, Nicole holds a Bachelor’s in Finance, complemented by an MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. She has also a proud graduate of the Securities Industry Institute at the revered Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. And, she has successfully completed the Series 7, 24, 53, and 63 FINRA exams.
Beyond the world of finance, Nicole is deeply rooted in her community. She serves on the board of WomenVenture, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit propelling women towards economic independence through entrepreneurship. Nicole has also been at the forefront of initiatives to combat childhood hunger, support children battling cancer, and enhance financial literacy.
Since 2011, Whitney Emanuel has been making waves in the financial world. Starting at Ameriprise Financial, she quickly realized that a one-size-fits-all approach wasn’t her style. So, in 2016, she launched Whitney Wealth Group (WWG). By 2019, she was ready for an even more audacious move, bidding farewell to the big financial corporations to strike out completely on her own.
Her impressive credentials? CFP®, CRPC®, FINRA Series 7, 63, 65, and a slew of state insurance licenses. But what truly sets Whitney apart is her philosophy. She works with driven executives across the country, helping them ensure that their money aligns with their personal values and purpose. For Whitney, money is just a tool – the real focus should be on how it helps achieve your aspirations. Instead of starting with dollar signs, she dives into what matters most to her clients and guides them on how to make their money resonate with those core values. Sometimes, the traditional financial strategies just don’t cut it, and Whitney is there to chart a unique course that strikes a balance between financial wisdom and personal fulfillment.
Juggling the demands of being a single mom and a business owner, Whitney gets it. She knows all about balancing acts and brings that empathy to her clients every day. Based in North Minneapolis, she and her spirited 9-year-old, Zurisadai (or Zuri), are an unstoppable duo. And when she’s not crunching numbers or advising clients, Whitney’s pastoring folks on their journey to sobriety and faith.
Only a quarter of financial advisors are women. Whitney didn’t have a financial guru in her family, didn’t grow up with insider investment tips, and definitely didn’t come from a wealthy background. But what she lacked in traditional advantages, she made up for in sheer grit and determination. Starting her journey in a training group at Ameriprise, she was one of only three women. Of those, she’s the only one who managed to tick off all the milestones in a mere 3 months.
Today, the WWG team is all women, all the time. Whitney’s brand radiates unapologetic femininity. Clients flock to her because she listens, makes them feel safe, and educates them rather than just tossing generic financial advice their way. In a world where numbers can seem cold and impersonal, Whitney’s mission is to bring warmth, understanding, and genuine care back into finance.
Heidi Zimmer isn’t just an experienced real estate developer; she is a trailblazer who has redefined the intersections of space, wellness, and community over her 30-year career. While real estate development and the hospitality industry are often male-dominated terrains, Heidi has carved a distinctive niche with her unique fusion of real estate acumen, leadership prowess, and a profound understanding of yoga and wellness.
At the helm of Wild Rice Retreat, the Midwest’s first wellness retreat center, Heidi’s journey was no cakewalk. She faced countless skeptics who believed such a concept was best left to places like California. Yet, undeterred by the naysayers and backed by her tenacious spirit, she brought her ambitious $11 million vision to life in Bayfield, WI. This retreat stands as a testament to her vision – a sanctuary that fosters creativity, facilitates deep connections with nature, and acts as a mirror for introspection and self-discovery.
The timing of Wild Rice Retreat’s inception in early 2020 could be perceived as ill-timed, given the global uncertainties. But Heidi embraced the challenge, adopting the mantra, “When nothing is certain, anything is possible.” Today, she stands as a testament to this belief.
But Heidi’s role doesn’t stop at being a developer. She’s also an educator, advisor, and mentor, guiding budding entrepreneurs to manifest their dream spaces. Whether it’s creating physical spaces or metaphysical ones, her mission is to pave pathways towards beauty, authenticity, healing, and growth.
Heidi’s roles, though varied, are underpinned by a set of unwavering beliefs: that a more beautiful, compassionate world is within reach, and that through thoughtful exploration and creative solutions, we can craft environments where individuals don’t just exist, but truly thrive.
As a WaveMaker and disrupter in the hospitality industry, Heidi’s journey isn’t just an inspiration for those in her field but serves as a beacon for anyone poised on the edge of their dreams, reminding them to take that leap of faith. After all, as Heidi exemplifies, sometimes you just need to jump and trust that the net will appear.
The TeamWomen annual WaveMaker Awards celebrates and recognizes women nominated by their peers across five categories: Under 40 Phenom, Uncharted Territory, Community Impact, Outstanding Mentor, Lifetime Achievement Award, and Empower Rising Star. Learn more about this event and our 2023 honorees here.