Ward 2’s Laura Caroon

Laura Caroon has led Girl Scout Troop 3-1028 since daughter Olivia, now 10, was in kindergarten.

Moorhead city council

‘Finishing flood mitigation is our #1 priority’

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

Getting To Know the Council: This is the third in a series of Extra profiles of members of the Moorhead City Council.
Six years ago, Laura Caroon began building Ladyboss Midwest, a program to connect women and empower them to play a larger part in community life.
As it turned out, one of the women whom Ladyboss most inspired was the co-founder herself.
Today Laura is in the final year of her first term on the Moorhead City Council representing Ward 2 in the eastern part of town. “Running for office was never something I’d pictured myself doing,” she says. But during the women’s candidate forum her group hosted in 2018, the idea began to take shape.
“We invited women from both parties who were running for office in Fargo-Moorhead,” she explains. “It was less about their political views, but about the larger question: Why was it important for women to be represented?” The house was packed to hear what they had to say. Not only that: The BBC turned up to cover the event, interviewing both candidates and those in attendance. “I learned something that day,” she remembers. “When you do interesting things, people take notice.”
She went on to participate in the local chamber of commerce’s Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo program. Then she signed up for She Should Run’s online curriculum on civic involvement, a seven-week program for those preparing to run for office. “One thing I learned was that women have such a hard time believing we’re qualified. If you care, you are qualified. You just have to be willing to listen and be a voice for others. So I was in.”
When Ward 2’s former council representative, Heidi Durand, decided not to run for a third term, Laura announced her candidacy for the post. “I was the first person I knew who’d ever run for office,” she notes, adding, ”One thing I did not expect was that I’d run opposed. When the filing deadline passed with no others coming forward, I said to myself, ‘Okay, then, I guess I’m doing this.”
A native of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, Laura attended Concordia College, graduating in 2005 with majors in religion and studio art. “I always imagined moving back to the Twin Cities. But then Josh and I got married, got jobs, bought a house … and 22 years later, we’re really entrenched in this community.”
She worked briefly at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and Fargo’s First Presbyterian after getting her degree, then spent the next decade operating a photo studio called Frozen Music with her husband. “By then our daughter Olivia had been born, and I wanted to pivot,” she says. She joined Concordia’s communications and marketing department as a content strategist, primarily supporting the college’s fund-raising efforts.
During those years, she and colleague Danyel Moe, who worked with social media, came up with Ladyboss. Their Facebook site quickly grew to 800 members. Their first Ladyboss Summit in 2018 sold out all 50 tickets; the second drew 150. That year, they received the YWCA’s Women of the Year award as a leader in women’s empowerment. They sold their program in early 2020 to the Flint Group, and Laura went to work building the brand. Then COVID-19 happened. It forced the program, one based on personal connections, into virtual mode. After two years of working from home, she moved on to the Dilworth business consulting firm Trive. Twelve months ago, she joined Minnesota State University Moorhead as assistant director of engagement, a role in which she works primarily with fund-raising events and with major donors.
“2020 was a weird year to run for office,” the council member reflects. “We didn’t want to knock on doors because of the pandemic.” She depended on postcards and social media posts; at any rate, the outcome of her one-candidate race was predictable. “Election night was kind of anti-climactic,” she laughs. “We stayed home and watched TV.”
From her first days on the council, she says, she has been impressed by the quality and dedication of the city’s staff – “how helpful and, well, smart they are. They know what’s happening. They care about people.” She adds, “The council gets the glory, but it’s the staff who do the heavy lifting.”
She appreciates the respect current council members have for one another. “Sure, we disagree sometimes. We get frustrated. But in the end, we can work together. We’re all on the same team.”
Laura says her voting tends to be in the middle, sometimes breaking the tie between those who support and oppose issues. “So many issues are really complex. There’s so much more to them than it seems on the surface,” she says. She cites the vote during one of her first sessions on whether to mandate masking during COVID. “I believed in masking. I wanted to keep people safe. But there was more to it. How would the mandate impact businesses? How would people with auto-immune diseases be affected?” Ultimately, she reports, she couldn’t approve the resolution as it was written, concluding that it was too restrictive.
Her responsibilities as a councilor include the Economic Development Authority, the Lake Agassiz Regional Library board and now, with the 2024 Legislative Assembly convening Feb. 12, the city’s legislative work group. It includes her, fellow council member Chuck Hendrickson, Mayor Shelly Carlson, manager Dan Mahli and governmental affairs director Lisa Bode.
When the Minnesota Legislature comes to order, she says, Moorhead is going to be out in force again, beating the same drum that has been bringing them to the Capitol for nearly 15 years: the urgent need to complete the city’s flood mitigation project 15 years after Moorhead first sought legislative support. Since then, more than $113 million has been invested in keeping residents and infrastructure safe from the worst of the Red River’s tantrums, like the near-disaster in 2009.
“They may be tired of hearing from us about it,” Laura admits. “But we’re going to do our best to get the $14.7 million we need to finally get it wrapped up.”

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