Carolyn Bogott: Christensen believes in empowering

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Beth Christensen believes in this quote from “Winnie the Pooh:”

“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Beth Christensen

She said that this is what she wants the clients at the Mower and Freeborn County Workforce Development, Inc. offices and the Pathways Home Grant to understand about themselves.  Beth is an area manager overseeing a staff of 21 that serve about 2,500 people a year. Together they help a wide variety of people from a 14-year-old who wants to get a job or to explore career options, to a 55-year-old who has been laid off from the only job she ever had and many other life situations in between these extremes. Each of these situations may involve a variety of barriers to finding employment, including mental health issues, domestic violence, childcare needs, and other unique factors.

One of the career planners in this office, located at Riverland Community College, has special training as an outreach specialist for our growing Southeast Asian population.  In six years, about 250 people have been helped through this program. 

Beth also administers the Pathways Home program for folks leaving prison who need to reenter society. They need a skill assessment and may need help with housing, insurance, transportation, and job training before it is possible for them to enter the work force.

Beth stresses that anyone can use the services of this center, whether the person is currently employed, seeking employment, or not even sure what they need help with. Beyond unemployment issues, staff can help people find resources to deal with fair wage issues as well as other employment issues.

Beth was born and raised in Austin. Her time at Austin High School was enriched with music and swimming. She credits Brian Johnson and Lynn Gulbrandson with helping her to learn she could do more than she thought she was capable of. 

This philosophy is what she lives by. Beth and her husband have one foster, three adopted and two biological children. Obviously, her life calls for creativity and for stretching herself in many ways!

Mike Postma, a colleague of Beth’s said: “Beth does amazing work as the manager of the Austin office for Workforce Development, Inc. Throughout the years she has written and been awarded grants to expand our services in Austin. Thanks to her efforts we now have programs that help train and support people interested in Healthcare work like CNAs [Certified Nursing Assistants], Public Sector work like Case Aids, our Southeast Asian immigrant population, and even a general job assistance grant funded by our friends at the United Way. She has hired and mentored many people over the years, myself included, and continually finds innovative ways to serve everyone in Mower County. Austin should be proud of the accomplishments of this homegrown, talented woman.”

We thank you, Beth Christensen, for your support of so many people.

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact Sue Grove  sue.grove@riverland.edu  or Carolyn Bogott  csbogott@gmail.com . The American Association of University Women, now AAUW, is open to anyone who has completed a two-year degree or beyond.  AAUW welcomes men who support our objectives and there are student memberships available. AAUW has been empowering women since 1881.  We support equity and education for women.  Scholarships are offered, as well as help in litigation in cases dealing with sex discrimination.  We are the most important and highly respected research and lobbying organization dealing with women’s issues such as equal opportunity and job equality.