20 under 40: Jamie Tolaas
Occupation: Wellness specialist
What do you actually do? I oversee the health and wellness programming for the Maurices home office in Duluth. It is my job to cultivate interest and encourage associates to create and maintain healthy lifestyles. By providing opportunities to participate in daily fitness classes, monthly lunch-and-learns and quarterly wellness challenges, we are able to connect them to the resources they need to reach their goals and retain their health long term.
Years in your job: I started at Maurices as a wellness intern while I was still in college. A few months after I graduated, I was offered a full-time position. I will be celebrating five years with Maurices at the end of this year.
Education: I graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a degree in community health education. I went on to receive other accreditations like my Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach certifications to help promote our wellness initiatives.
Family: True Minnesotan right here. I now live with my husband and our two energetic and entertaining dogs. Most of my immediate family still lives here in Duluth as well.
What do you like most about the Northland? Our beautiful Lake Superior views and all the seasons we encounter here. There are so many opportunities and activities to take advantage of — on the Lakewalk, on the trails, or out on the water/ice. Duluth gives you plenty of reasons to step outside and take it all in. It’s easy to fall in love with this place.
What do you like to do with your free time? I spend the majority of my free time at the dance studio. I have been with the same group of dancers for eight years now, choreographing and teaching. They hold a special place in my heart, and I love working with all of them. To be part of their lives watching them learn, grow and succeed over the years is beyond rewarding. Going to the studio and seeing their happy, energetic faces always make my day.
How can the Northland retain younger people? The Northland is doing well on creating opportunities and experiences for people who come here to visit Duluth. Many people come to the area to attend college, and staying in the area after graduation is important to them. In order for these young professionals to stay, I hope our local organizations continue to invest in their development and provide job opportunities for those who are just getting started in their careers.
What is your biggest accomplishment? I believe one of my biggest accomplishments was the decision to go back and graduate college. Like most, I went straight to college right after high school. However, I didn’t have a clear sense of direction for what I wanted to do. After taking a short break and meeting the most wonderful guidance counselor at UMD, we put together a plan to get things restarted. I was excited about the program that I chose, and I was committed to learning everything I could. I found my niche and was positive that this was the right place for me. I feel very fortunate to have then moved on and found a career and a company that supports my efforts and passion for living well.
What are you most passionate about? One of my greatest passions is helping others and watching them succeed. I enjoy getting to know the people I work with and the kids I teach on a more personal level, helping them find solutions to reach their goals. I bring enthusiasm and support, show them what could be and encourage them to take a risk. I believe you can do anything; all you have to do is try.
What goals have you set for the next 5-10 years? My goals for the future are to keep doing what I’m passionate about. I hope to live in the moment because life can be so unpredictable at times. I love where I am at right now and I am excited for the years ahead. I hope I continue to make new connections, grow professionally and grow our family one day. No matter what, my goal is to enjoy every minute of it along the way.