City alderman, TGU education coordinator, history maker, wife and mother are just some of the many hats tonight’s Remarkable Woman wears — and she’s using her own experience to empower young women to become leaders.
“I’m only here because I was encouraged by others, both women and men, and so I want to hopefully do that for other young women,” said Lisa Olson.
She knows a thing or two about leadership.
She’s been a teacher, an education coordinator for the TGU school district and is a board member for a leadership group for women.
But maybe her biggest leap came 14 years ago — when she decided to run for Minot City Council.
“It was important for me as an individual, but also as a woman, to see representation at our local level and our city council,” Lisa said.
But her path was not so straight forward. She was in the car with her daughter when she learned that she lost that race.
“She looked at me and asked how I felt and I said, ‘I was disappointed that I lost the election,’ but I wanted her to know, and I think she was about 12 at the time, that I had done something that I thought was right and I wanted to show her that you could lose with dignity. And I wanted to show her that I could persevere too,” Lisa said.
And she did just that.
Four years later she was elected. She’s been an alderman for the last 10 years. She remembers the tough days, like during the 2011 flood.
“We had a lot of single moms or elderly women who were going to be displaced because of the flood and I tried to advocate for their needs,” Lisa said.
And the good days. Like last May, when she made history as the first female council member to preside over a city council meeting.
“You get two senses about it because it was wonderful that I had the opportunity, but also kind of sad that it had to get to 2019 before that could occur,” Lisa said.
And all along, she’s had a unique cheerleader.
Her husband, Jason Olson, served as Minot’s police chief for eight years, which means he was there in the audience for nearly every city council meeting — watching his wife have a say in important decisions.
“Obviously I’m very proud of her and her service and her willingness to step forward. I know a lot of times as issues are discussed, I found myself trying to kind of read her mind and predict how she was going to vote on the issue, and it was kind of fun to see how that played out,” Jason said.
And with another election season coming up, she has a message for women.
“That they can do it. That you don’t have to have a great background, you don’t have to have the answers to everything,” Lisa said.
Olson’s current term expires in the year 2022.