7 Questions with Kris Wilke

Kris Wilke joined the Fergus Falls Jaycees in 1996 and was immediately nominated (and added) to its board. Because of her job at a local radio station, Public Relations Vice President (PRVP) was the perfect fit for her. After serving as PRVP, Kris then served in multiple capacities: President, Community Development Vice President, Management Vice President and Secretary. Kris has won numerous state awards, including Gold PRVP, Gold Secretary and Gold Jaycee. In 2010, Kris stepped up to the role of Regional Director (Region 1), a region that had not seen a regional director in more than a decade. Kris was able to make contact with all of her chapters in her region and get them involved. As a result of her hard work, Kris was awarded numerous awards: Gold Regional Staff of the Year, a Presidential Medallion, Silver & Bronze Regional Staff of the Trimester and a Silver Key.

The following year, Kris served as Jaycees Awards/Performers Points Program Manager. In that capacity, she continued to fill up her trophy case, nabbing a Gold Program Manager of the Year award, a Presidential medallion, a Gold & Silver Program Manager of the Trimester nod and a Gold Key. Kris also received a US Jaycees Presidential Medallion and was awarded the Sergi Hourchi (Sir-gee Ha-ruchee) award for her work in her programming area. In 2012, Kris served as the Community Development Vice President, where she landed  the Gold State VP of the Trimesters award and also received the Sheridan Adams Memorial award for the outstanding service as the Vice President of the Year.

Kris also serves her community outside of the Jaycees in a number of different volunteer capacities. For the past six years, she has been the Walk MS Fergus Falls site coordinator. She also is serving on the Fergus Falls Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Team and on the Downtown Association. Kris also has served on the Fergus Falls Summerfest Committee as a board member and chairperson, and the Fergus Falls Bike-MS/Tram planning committee in 2008, 2010 and in 2012.

How did you decide to get involved with the Jaycees?   I was “voluntold” to join the Jaycees by my employer when the chapter was re-chartered in Fergus Falls by the Brainerd Jaycees. At the time I was not old enough to join the chapter, as the age range was still 21 – 40. BUT – once I turned 21, I joined and have not looked back.

What has your experience been as a leader within your organization?  This is an amazing organization. I have never grown, learned, or have been tested as much as I have with the Jaycees. Every opportunity is a chance to learn something new and to grow as an individual. I have learned that a positive attitude can go a long way and bring amazing results. The lessons I have learned in my Jaycee career can never be duplicated.

Is there a special recipe for leadership? Or is it more about learning as you go?  It truly is learning as you go. Going into your year as President, whether it is local or state, you know there will be problems – you are kidding yourself if you think otherwise. But learning how to deal with those problems is one of the amazing things about this job. Learning how you deal with problems and conflicts only makes you stronger.

How has joining the Jaycees enriched your life?  I cannot imagine my life without the Jaycees. I have been a Jaycee for most of my adult life. The friends I have are because of Jaycees. My career I have is because of the Jaycees. I don’t want to even imagine how my life would be different if I had not found this organization.

Do you have any advice for Jaycee members seeking a leadership role within the organization or in the workplace?  DO IT!  When people approach you and ask you to step up and lead, go for it. It is an amazing opportunity. The people you meet, the places you road run to, the experiences you have are all fabulous – but the self-confidence and the self-esteem that I have gained – absolutely priceless.

What are the best skills or knowledge to have in order to be successful in this job?   Communication is key. I have tried throughout my Jaycee career to make sure that my communication with others is swift and prompt. Even if you do not know the answer, reply with a response that you are looking, and when you find the answer you will get back to them.

You also need to realize that people are here to help you and the organization succeed. Accept their help – you are not in this alone!

What part of your involvement in the Jaycees makes you most proud to be a key member of the organization?   I love watching people and chapters succeed. Whether it is a local chapter running a food drive, or a local chapter member receiving an award at convention for their hard work – I love to see the pride they have on their face. Their successes make me work harder. I am so proud of the work of the Minnesota Jaycees chapters. The chapters don’t realize the impact they are all truly having in the local communities.


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