Wyoming Machine Co-President Traci Tapani appointed to Young Women’s Initiative Executive Council by Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan

 By Press Release Courtesy of Governor Walz Press Secretary Teddy Tschann

[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan today announced appointments to the Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiative and the Young Women’s Cabinet. Wyoming Machine Co-President, Traci Tapani, was one of the appointees to the Young Women’s Initiative’s Executive Council.

Both bodies of leadership are part of the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota, a public-private systems change partnership with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota to achieve equity in opportunities and improve the lives of young Black, Indigenous, and women of color. The Executive Council includes leaders from business, academic, non-profit, and government sectors. The Cabinet is composed of young leaders from communities across the state that experience some of the greatest disparities in opportunities and outcomes. Appointments are effective through January 2, 2023.

“It’s my honor to elevate the leadership of these extraordinary young women from communities across Minnesota,” said Governor Walz. “The best way to ensure that young women have the opportunities and resources they need to thrive is by asking them directly what we can do to improve their community. I look forward to working with the incredible leaders on both the Cabinet and Executive Council to achieve a better, more equitable Minnesota.”

“I am encouraged by the growing number of young women leaders throughout Minnesota. Now more than ever, it is essential that we continue to uplift the voices of women from diverse backgrounds,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan. “The Young Women’s Cabinet is a demonstration of our continued commitment to center young women in our decisions to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. Thank you to the young women who applied and shared their powerful voices, ideas, and stories with us. We are so grateful for and inspired by every one of you.”

“With the leadership of the Executive Council and the continued leadership of the Young Women’s Cabinet, Minnesota is ready for a much-needed transformation that positions young women and their families at the center of solutions,” said Gloria Perez, President & CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, and a co-chair of the Executive Council. “I look forward to partnering with the Young Women’s Cabinet and the Executive Council to activate the power of our state’s young women and achieve gender and racial equity. When young Black, Indigenous, and women of color in Minnesota thrive, all young women, families, and communities thrive.”

Young Women’s Cabinet
Aaisha Abdullahi – St. Paul, MN
Millenium Amha – St. Paul, MN
Sabrina Kubisa – Hopkins, MN
Amal Mohamed – Bloomington, MN
Amy Zhou – Minneapolis, MN
Chynna Mou – Minneapolis, MN
Trinity Hanif – Ostego, MN
Rahi Patel – Minneapolis, MN
Ashley Toledano-Solis – Bloomington, MN
Jaeden King – Onamia, MN
Mercedes Van Cleve – Prior Lake, MN
Scout Holding Eagle – Moorhead, MN
Anisa Omar – Mankato, MNH
elen Hedge – Minneapolis, MN
Deilyah Dexter – Onamia, MN
Nibraas Khan – Eagan, MN
Madison Finora – Duluth, MN
Sara Abraha – Oakdale, MN
Ella Weber – Crookston, MN

Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiative
Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, Co-chair
Gloria Perez, Co-chair of Council, President and CEO of Women’s Foundation of Minnesota

Verna Cornelia Price, Co-chair of Council, and CEO at Power of People Consulting Group
Adriana Alejandro Osorio, Philanthropy Advisor at UNICEF USA
Ana M. Pérez de Pérez, Executive Director at discapacitados abriéndose caminos
Anita Patel, Leadership Programs Director at Bush Foundation
Annesa Cheek, President of St. Cloud Technical and Community College Cathy Chavers, Tribal Chairwoman of Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
Denise Rutherford, Sr. Vice President of 3M Corporate Affairs
Dennis Olson, Commissioner of Higher Education
Emily Larson, Mayor of Duluth
Eric Jolly, President and CEO of Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation
Gaye Adams Massey, President and CEO of YWCA St. Paul
Houston White, H/W Men’s Room Barbershop and Northside Advocate
Irene Fernando, Hennepin County Commissioner
Joan Gabel, President of the University of Minnesota
JoMarie Morris, Non-profit Consulting and Immigration Attorney
Joyce Ester, President of Normandale Community College
Kara Carlisle, Vice President of Programs at McKnight Foundation
Kim Norton, Mayor of Rochester
Laura Bishop, Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Lorna LaGue, President of White Earth Tribal and Community College
Maria Regan Gonzalez, Principal Sustainability Design Consultant at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive of Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Mitra Jalali Nelson, Saint Paul City Councilmember
Monica Meyer, Executive Director of OutFront Minnesota
Nicole Matthews, Executive Director of Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition
Padmini Udupa, Principal of Longfellow Alternative High School
Patti Tototzintle, CEO of Casa De Esperanza
Paul Pribbenow, President of Augsburg University
Phillipe Cunningham, Minneapolis City Councilmember
Rebecca Crooks-Stratton, Secretary/Treasurer of Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Representative
Rena MoranSarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States
Senator Patricia Torres
RayShelley Buck, Prairie Island Tribal Council President
Steve Grove, Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development
Susan Bass Roberts, Vice President and Executive Director at Pohlad Family Foundation
Suzanne Rivera, President of Macalester College
Tish Bolger, CEO at Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys
Traci Tapani, Co-President of Wyoming Machine                                          Tuleah Palmer, President and CEO at Blandin Foundation
Wendy Nelson, Chairwoman of the Carlson Family Foundation

About the Young Women’s Initiative
The Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN) is a partnership between the Governor’s Office, the Women’s Foundation, and the YWCA. The YWI MN includes a Cabinet, which is comprised of young women and gender-expansive youth aged 16-24, and an Executive Council, which is comprised of leaders from government, business, academia, philanthropy, and nonprofits.

YWI MN centers the leadership and solutions of young women of color, American Indian young women, young women from Greater Minnesota, LGBTQ+ youth, and young women with disabilities. The initiative brings together nonprofits, businesses, government, philanthropies, and young women to promote equitable systems that benefit all, grounded in the belief that when young Black, Indigenous, and women of color in Minnesota thrive, families and communities thrive.

The Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota has reached more than 4,300 young women and their families directly across intersecting areas of economic opportunity, safety, and leadership; made community investments of $1.76 million to 58 organizations, 80% led by women of color to advance the Blueprint for Action; engaged 91 women as members of the Young Women’s Cabinet; made 78 “I Believe in You” grants, direct investments in the ideas and solutions of young women through the WFMN Innovators program; and published 10 original research reports focused on young women’s leadership and solutions, including Impacts of the Young Women’s Initiative on the State’s Labor Market. The Young Women’s Initiative’s statewide partnership and direct investments in young women are now being replicated across the nation through the National Philanthropic Collaborative of Young Women’s Initiatives.

She Bends Steel: Co-President Traci Tapani Interviewed on Manufacturing Talk Radio

Host Jennifer McNelly, President of 180 Skills LLC, interviews Traci Tapani, Co-President of Wyoming Machine, Inc., a family-owned business she runs with her sister Lori. From an early age, Traci learned that gender does not define a career path. Encouraged to be all she could be, Traci stepped up to the role of manufacturing owner at the early age of 27. Today, Traci is a force for change. From the White House to the factory floor, Traci influences leaders and inspires the next generation. Tune in to “She Bends Steel” to listen to Traci’s inspiring journey into manufacturing and how she pays it forward every day.  (Click here to listen to the podcast)

Today’s Guest Traci Tapani

Traci Tapani

Traci Tapani is Co-President of Wyoming Machine, Inc. Traci became an owner of Wyoming Machine in 1994 and has shared the position of President, with her sister Lori, since 1997. Traci is actively involved in volunteer activities that promote math and science education, technical training, and careers in manufacturing. In 2014 Traci was honored by The Manufacturing Institute with the Women in Manufacturing STEP Award for demonstrating excellence and leadership in Manufacturing and in April 2015 Traci participated in the Upskill America Summit hosted by the White House. Minnesota NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) recently awarded Traci and her sister, Lori, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Traci currently serves as trustee at the Initiative Foundation, serves on the board of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, and was recently appointed to the Governor’s Workforce Development Council.

Lori Tapani Accepts the National STEP Ahead Award in Washington DC

Lori Tapani, 2017 STEP Ahead Award Honoree

Stacy, Minn., –Lori Tapani, Co-President of Wyoming Machine in Stacy, Minn., accepted the national STEP award in Washington DC on April 20 for her contributions to the manufacturing industry. The STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) award is given annually to honor the achievements of women in manufacturing.

The Manufacturing Institute launched the STEP Ahead initiative in 2012 to celebrate women in the manufacturing industry that are making a difference through advocacy, mentorship, engagement, promotion, and leadership.

Manufacturing faces a serious skills gap. Part of this gap is the underrepresentation of women in the industry. Women make up about 47 percent of the labor force, but only 27 percent of the manufacturing workforce. To help improve upon this, The Manufacturing Institute is promoting the role of women in manufacturing through the STEP Ahead initiative, which serves to mentor and recognize women while also leading research efforts tackling this important topic.

Lori promotes women in manufacturing and skills development on many fronts. She has been especially involved with Pine Technical College in Pine City, Minn., to assist the college with a state-of-the-art manufacturing technology curriculum. In particular, she has worked with the college to use technology to bring virtual classes to manufacturers to train their employees. She also serves on Pine Technical College’s board of trustees and in many other ways. In addition, she plays an active role in the Washington County chapter of the National Association of Workforce Boards to help communities train unskilled workers for careers in manufacturing.

Joe Mulford, President of Pine Technical College, said: “Lori leverages her experience, skills, and passion to be extremely effective in driving the long-term vision for Pine Technical and Community College (PTCC). She has demonstrated leadership within the college by committing time to help faculty develop new curriculum and guidance on equipment purchase, and is exceptional in communicating its value. Her extensive experience working with multiple boards gives her access to critical leaders and decision-makers that results in policy, which ultimately helps sustain a strong manufacturing sector in Minnesota.”

Lori explained her dedication to people and manufacturing in this way: “People are my passion! In manufacturing, we use processes and technology/innovation to transform raw materials into final products. That transformation is powered by people with diverse skill sets working collaboratively! Identifying and harnessing the unique gifts and talents that each person brings to the team is where the magic happens.”

The Tapani Sisters’ Excellent Adventure

It took nine miles of walking and too-many-to-count blisters for Lori and Traci Tapani to find just the right tree—when Washington DC’s cherry blossoms are at their peak—for the perfect picture. Turns out, though, when they found the ideal tree, it wasn’t a cherry tree at all. Rather, it was a tree fashioned from sheet metal, re-born as a metal sculpture at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. It was the perfect backdrop for the Co-Presidents of a precision metal fabrication company, Wyoming Machine, based in Stacy, Minn.

The Tapanis were in DC to accept a national award: The W.O. Lawton Business Leadership Award sponsored by the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) which assists 550 such boards in the US. The annual award honors one large and one small business or organization across America committing time, money and leadership to enhance their community’s workforce and economy. Lockheed Martin received the large-business award.  According to NAWB president, Ronald Painter, “Each [Wyoming Machine and Lockheed Martin] is an example of how a company can reach beyond its own self-interest to advance an entire community’s economic vitality.”

The award also salutes the recipients’ partnership with their local Workforce Development Board. Wyoming Machine was nominated by Robert Crawford, Division Manager of the Washington County Workforce Center.

Stacy, Minn., 30 minutes north of St. Paul, has just 1,426 people. So it’s not surprising that the Tapanis knew recruiting and training were keys to their success many years before workforce development became a trend. The sisters have always embraced Teddy Roosevelt’s mantra: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” As Lori said, “Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you can’t do big things.” Traci added: “Ours is a community of passionate, progressive thinkers.”

Their attitudes have developed a highly committed workforce of 55 employees. That’s morphed into their leadership at community, regional and state levels, as well as nationally in manufacturing and in workforce development.

But…back to the Tapanis’ Excellent Adventure. Coming from a business committed to making metal parts of all sizes an art form, it’s no surprise that Traci and Lori savored several of the Smithsonian art museums. And as an ardent painter and photographer, Lori would have it no other way.

The sisters marveled at the National Museum of Art. But they went gaga over an imposing painting in the American Art Museum called, “An Industrial Cottage,” an oil painting from a North Dakota artist depicting his state’s industries, from manufacturing and farming to energy—complete with drill bits and bacon.

Another “must-see” for the Tapanis was Belmont Hall Equality National Monument. This was the headquarters of America’s suffrage movement. No surprise that Traci and Lori stopped there. The Tapanis are nationally known for their commitment to advancing women. They have opened the eyes of young ladies from 6th grade on up to manufacturing careers and a “can-do” mentality.

Next up? Traci and Lori trekked to “The Tiny Jewel Box,” a quaint DC shop featuring antique jewelry where Madeline Albright found so many of her famed brooches.

Of course a key part of their Excellent Adventure was the NAWB Forum, “Defining Challenges and Shaping Opportunities.” This conference drew 1,800 attendees. The Tapanis marveled at both keynote speakers, Zoe Baird, CEO Markle, Foundation, and Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN, Inc. (Home Shopping Network). They spoke of the constant evolution of how people do things, and the challenges and opportunities this represents. At lunch, “Brain Breaks” further explored how to define challenges and identify opportunities.

A key takeaway for Traci was PEW research: 87 percent of US adults understand the vital role that life-long training and skill development play in our workforce. Traci said, “At Wyoming Machine we look for evidence of ongoing learning when we evaluate job candidates, and we have been doing that for some time.”

Lori found the concept of “framestorming” valuable. Framestorming helps frame a challenge. Whereas brainstorming generates solutions, framestorming generates questions to ensure your brainstorming is on target. Lori said, “Another takeaway for me was learning how, if we are going to continue living the ‘American Dream,’ we must have a robust ‘middle skill’ market in our workforce.”

A quintessential thrill for the sisters was the awards banquet. The ceremony provided a lifetime memory for both Traci and Lori. Three awards were given. Traci and Lori were saved for last. When it came time for them to receive their award, they were directed from off stage onto the ballroom floor, which the sisters thought curious.

But once there, a large screen appeared on stage and a video began. It was the only video of the awards ceremony. Suddenly, Minnesota Senator Al Franken appeared on the screen offering accolades to the Tapani sisters, their training and development leadership, and all those present who have worked to make workforce training and development a success. The Tapani sisters had no idea the Senator’s video was created.

When Lori and Traci approached the podium to accept their award, the ballroom roared with a standing ovation—the only one occurring during the ceremony. The entire Minnesota contingency shared shouts of joy –and laughter as Lori mentioned the jokes about “our” Minnesota accent in her acceptance speech. The ceremony was a poignant highlight of a weekend filled with wide-eyed experiences.

But for Traci and Lori, both doting mothers, the weekend’s most meaningful experience was that Traci’s two teenage daughters joined them for the Excellent Adventure…Talk about role models—even as her daughter Maija exclaimed, “I’m hungry; and I’m serious about that!”




The Secret to Inspiring a New Generation of Manufacturers: Amber Carlson

As programs ensue to showcase manufacturing careers to middle and high school students, the question remains, “How do you get kids who know nothing about manufacturing to be interested in simply checking it out?” Continue reading “The Secret to Inspiring a New Generation of Manufacturers: Amber Carlson”

Internet Television Classes: A Game-Changer at Wyoming Machine

It’s no secret that technical college customized training is a life-saver for manufacturers. What you may not know is that Lori Tapani and Traci Tapani, Co-Presidents of Wyoming Machine, helped make that happen in Central Minnesota. Now they and their employees—are reaping the benefits.
For 21 years, Lori and Traci have worked closely with Pine Technical and Community College in Central Minnesota. Continue reading “Internet Television Classes: A Game-Changer at Wyoming Machine”

Tapani Sisters, Co-Presidents of Wyoming Machine Inc., Share Their Lifetime Achievement Award from NAWBO

On October 26, we received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners. While we’re honored to have received this, we humbly share this award with you, our employees, customers and vendors. The award acknowledges our success in business and we attribute that success to all of you. Continue reading “Tapani Sisters, Co-Presidents of Wyoming Machine Inc., Share Their Lifetime Achievement Award from NAWBO”

Hot Idea: Wyoming Machine Works with Entrepreneur to Create Award Winning Camp Stove

Kent Hering and his wife, Betsy, have come a long way since their first camping trip in 1976 where they discovered they couldn’t start a fire. Years later, Kent is owner and founder of Littlbug Enterprises, producer of light-weight, stainless steel camp stoves. They require no maintenance kit, spare parts, wind screens or heat exchangers. Best of all, the stove can be rolled up in a sleeping pad instead of taking up space in a pack. Continue reading “Hot Idea: Wyoming Machine Works with Entrepreneur to Create Award Winning Camp Stove”