Moms Who Make Duluth is a monthly series featuring interviews with industrious, local women who are shaping the face of Duluth’s professional sphere while simultaneously raising their families. Duluth Moms Blog and Krenzen are delighted to highlight the positive impact working moms have on our community. We want you to get to know some of Duluth’s most notable women: professionals who balance work, community, civic engagement, and family.
Introducing... Mayor Emily Larson!
We are thrilled to kick off our series by spotlighting one of Duluth’s hardest working citizens, Mayor Emily Larson.
Emily was elected Mayor of Duluth in November 2015 with 72% of the vote. She was inaugurated on January 4th, 2016.
Prior to becoming Mayor, Emily was President of the Duluth City Council. She served as a Commissioner on the Duluth Economic Development Authority, a board member of the Great Lakes Aquarium, Visit Duluth, and the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, and was the Council conduit to Parks and Libraries.
Emily earned an undergraduate degree from the College of St. Scholastica and a Master’s Degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. She is also a graduate of Intermedia Arts Creative Community Leadership Institute and served on the Advisory Committee that developed the Duluth Energy Efficiency Program (DEEP).
An active trail runner and full-time admirer of Lake Superior, Emily is married to architect Doug Zaun, Co-Owner of Wagner Zaun Architecture. Together they have two sons.
Getting to know Emily
What advice do you wish you could have given to your 13 year old self?
Be bold, embrace your imperfections and be yourself.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
The biggest professional risk I’ve taken was running for office. It’s a terrifying prospect – inviting people to judge you on a public scale without fully knowing the outcome. It’s the second best decision I’ve ever made. (The first best decision was marrying my husband.) Want to get in touch with your grit, capacity, resilience and stamina? Run for office. If you don’t know yourself when you start out, you will when it’s over!
How did you get into Politics?
Sideways. I never intended to be a Mayor. I simply wanted to make a difference. With each new difference I made, I found that I could do more in new ways. I grew up in a family that encouraged discourse, the sharing of ideas, and fostered curiosity. I try to encourage these same values now with my own kids. They will find their own path for how to apply them, and I can’t wait to see who they become.
What is the most exciting thing about your job right now?
Being constantly challenged and pushed to grow. This job does not stay still for one moment; each day I need to be ready to cover at least a dozen different topics, and to do so with confidence, understanding and a readiness to make decisions. There is also something incredibly moving about this work and simply being a part of people’s lives – to show up at times that are important to our community and at places that matter to them. Often these tend to be quieter moments – they won’t make headlines, but they are just really impactful on me and how I make decisions.
What is your family’s favorite way to relax together?
Road trips. We pile into the car, listen to podcasts, drive the backroads, take turns being DJ, swap stories, stop at roadside oddities and eat at mom & pop cafes. We take our time and linger wherever we can.
What is your favorite cheesy movie?
Love, Actually. I force my husband to watch it with me once a year. He loves me so much he does it.
Name a favorite “hidden gem” Northshore spot.
I have a few favorite swimming holes in creeks along the hiking trails up the shore. There is nothing I love more than jumping in after a hike or run and feeling the crisp, clean water wash over me. The colder the better.
Thank you, Mayor Larson, for letting us get to know you! For the record: we totally feel you on Love, Actually!
Join us over the next few months as we get to know some of Duluth’s most notable women. Do you know a mom who is making waves in the community? Speaking out? Pushing for change, or implementing new and innovative ways to better our schools, neighborhoods, government, or commerce and agriculture? Drop us a line at [email protected] and let us know!