Many successful women are early to rise, are in tune with the times, promote a healthy lifestyle, and are serious about helping others and the community develop and progress. Women who consistently do these are always willing to take chances and are not afraid of failure and such is Laurie Peterka.
All these years, Peterka has been highly productive: managing Practical Solutions LLC, a consultancy firm she created in 1998 to help other companies focus on bringing the best end-product to their customers, while also being a founding member and past president and now executive director of Friends of the Mariana Trench, plus a founding member and past president of the Northern Marianas Islands Volleyball Association.
“…I have strong feelings about self-determination and love seeing people grow. …I endeavor to provide vision, structure, leadership and a platform for projects to come to life. I helped co-found FOMT in 2008…the NMIVA, I helped co-found in 2004 and in January, I officially retired from my role. …I helped create these organizations at the request of others who needed help and I opted to help because I was interested in their mission and concepts,” she said.
“I took a personal interest in the outcome of seeing these ideas come to life. …We don’t have control in this world over very many things. But we can choose how to show up in our community. I want to be a good community citizen and use my skills to contribute to the highest potential of this community,” she added.
Peterka is always curious and always hungry for the next level that would move the needle forward in collaboration with others. “I value teamwork and I love applying just the right amount of support to help others see or achieve possibilities they want to reach and helping them own those successes.” Sometimes, that involves “being able to articulate visions so that the stories are infectious and these stories lead people to action. Listening to others, valuing their point of view and treating what you hear with respect without exception.”
Peterka admits that balancing her personal life and work is a challenge that she tries to work on every day. “…I am working on seeking balance all the time. I find myself in a space in time where what I do just doesn’t feel like work. I don’t ‘have’ to do what I do, I ‘want’ to do what I am doing. I justify to myself that being unmarried and with no children of my own allows me to give more of myself in my community efforts,” she said. “I still need to stop the world and breathe. …I also take time out every day to exercise a little, have play time with my dog and cats who make me laugh and have hobbies—I love being in nature and exploring outdoor spaces. Generally, I try to keep a healthy lifestyle and rely mostly on natural healing.”
This year, Peterka may have eliminated some responsibilities but that only made her take on other equally worthy causes. “I have successfully handed the NMIVA over to a new board whom I have every confidence in that they will take NMIVA to a whole new level of success. …I have more time for creativity, so I will be shuffling my priorities around to allow maximum time in places of joy.”
That includes working with various Friends of the Mariana Trench community partners on three new grant projects—two that are focused on capacity building and one that is about constructing a proposal for an ocean/marine science hub in partnership with both CNMI government agencies and various educational institutions.
“I see ways to help individual national federations strengthen their organizations and working with the Northern Marianas Sports Association as an at-large board member to help them facilitate this through resources available from the Lemmai/Mei Incubator project at the MANGO is one. I can also see how the work that I’ve started with the [Northern Marianas College] to cultivate college sports and college sport administration will need a new agenda for the next FISU funding cycle,” she added.
With all of the work and achievements under her belt, Peterka keeps herself grounded and is full optimism, courage, and hope. “I didn’t always believe in myself and I had a lot of help along the way and paying it forward is a lifestyle choice for me. I do my best to give people around me latitude to explore, be a sounding board, and access to my experience and I encourage trial and error. I hope for individuals to truly believe that they are capable, that anything is possible, but to also realize that it’s up to them to see their way through to making their visions into reality.
“…you have to take the risk. Both success and failure are gifts because it means you tried. It’s not trying that is ultimately the harder thing to live with. …When I see the joy others experience, that they too can believe in themselves, that motivates me to keep interacting with people and projects to create more of those moments. I want to inspire others to their highest potential. Seeing that motivates me,” she added.