Discussion Recap: Building Your Personal Brand with Mary Bontrager

Guest post by Christen Bain, YNPN Des Moines member and grant consultant 

At the October discussion group, Mary Bontrager brought energy and connections to YNPN. Mary is Executive Vice President of Workforce Development/Education at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, and she spoke with a packed room at Java Joe’s coffeehouse about building our own brands and articulating our vision for the future. It’s always good to think bigger about your career goals and Mary certainly encouraged that line of thinking with an interactive session.


Mary walked the group of YNPs through a few exercises to help us get started on building our own brand. We considered the “product” we have to offer as individuals, our values, passions, and talents to develop our personal statement. Listening to the statements of those in the room, it is clear YNPN is full of talented individuals with a lot to offer! We are passionate about the arts and theatre, about housing, about helping kids, and so much more. This organization is the home to so much good being done in Des Moines.

That day, I developed my personal statement as: “I am an expert efficient communicator with a passion for service and education. My passions and sense of integrity drive my communications, problem solving, and education focused work.”

I’m not 100% behind it yet, but it’s something to continue to work on and develop.

From our longer personal statement, Mary encouraged us to develop a more concise tagline of just 10-12 words that we can use in our daily communications in email signatures, on our business cards and in other written communications. The other imperative is to offer this tagline when asked about ourselves rather than linking our story to just a particular employer or career. This personal statement should span job titles and industries. Even if your job is in housing now, your personal statement and tagline should still be applicable if you switch careers to a non-profit focused on hunger.

Following the guided activity, Mary opened up the group to discussion offering her experience and expertise.

Thanks to YNPN and Professional Development Co-Chair Brianne Fitzgerald for putting the event together!

So what about you all? If you were at the event, did you develop a tagline? Are you tinkering on yours now?

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