Volunteer Spotlight

Carole Clark Isakson

Tell us a bit about your work history

I started out at a big law firm in downtown Minneapolis right out of law school. It was a great experience, but I got married and moved to Gibbon, MN (population 800) and started my own firm, working closely with a law firm in Minneapolis. After my husband and I adopted two little boys from Russia (2001) we moved to Maple Grove, and I became a partner at Kalina Wills Gisvold & Clak PLLP, a firm handling business matters. In 2016 I joined Barna Guzy & Steffen, an excellent law firm full of smart, honest and friendly lawyers, and I love it here!

When did you first get involved with WomenVenture?

I was having lunch with my friend Andrea Murphy, she serves on the WomenVenture Loan Committee. We were chatting about the state of the world and wondering where I could make a difference. Andrea suggested WomenVenture would be a great place for me to use my skills to help women start businesses. She was SO right! I couldn't have found a better fit! I am looking forward to many many years with WomenVenture, both helping it as an entity and working with specific entrepreneurs. 

What surprises you most about working with WV clients?

I don't think I was surprised by the clients, they were prepared and intelligent. In my decades of experience I have found that women in business have generally fought harder to get there and are not naive about the challenges they will face, both as a result of being new business owners and women.

What do you think will change about women entrepreneurship and women owned businesses in Minnesota in the future?

The movement among women that started with the first Women's March and continues undimmed to this day is both encouraging and a warning to each of us that equality in business and life is no longer something to take for granted. We need to keep fighting for that, and that fight will benefit women entrepreneurs and women owned businesses. I am a 55 year old woman who attended her first protest at 54, and there are thousands like me.  We are recruiting, and looking for places to help. I think our ventures will provide even more resources and opportunities to help women prosper in business ownership. 

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering with WV?

Volunteering at WomenVenture is not the same as the other volunteer work you have done - this is a way to really make a huge difference. I am a lifelong volunteer, I have helped at church and school and the library and the park, I've led scout dens and chaired carnivals and written grant applications and founded historic preservation groups. My experience with WomenVenture has been different, because I am using my legal expertise to have a direct impact on so many women!

I am proud to have found a group that shares my goals, to make the world better, where I can use skills that are unique to me. I know the work I am doing would be expensive and potentially unobtainable for those I work with, and it makes me feel great to be doing this. So for all those thinking about helping, if you have a unique skill that can translate to helping another woman, jump on it!  The people at WomenVenture are wonderful, smart and motivated people, and the women they work with are just the same. 

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I played women's hockey when we still had checking. 

In addition, I love learning and am constantly looking for fun science field trips to do with my family. The total solar eclipse trip last August was incredible and will be hard to beat! I am a big fan of science fiction, and actually attended the very first Star Trek convention in Minnesota (they are a bit too crazed for me these days...)

Volunteer Opportunities

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