Many thoughtful words have been used to describe Bridget Ulrich—genuine, kind, intelligent, passionate, creative—because no single word can sum up all that Ulrich is. Add doses of both perseverance and humility and you have one unstoppable woman.
Ulrich says the spark for volunteering always has been inside her. “I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t volunteering. I really wanted to give back to my community.”
Little did she know that volunteering would one day turn into her career path. As a marketing major at the University of St. Thomas in 2007, Ulrich began spending her time at Hammer Residences Inc. in Wayzata to fulfill a graduation requirement. Hammer Residences is a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide high-quality services to children and adults living with developmental disabilities. In just four years, she has advanced to the role of development and communication associate, a position she doesn’t take lightly.
Ulrich wasted no time bringing Hammer into the modern world of Facebook and Twitter. The tech-savvy 26-year-old claims Twitter is the ultimate tool to connect and contribute to the business world. With just one tweet, Ulrich can promote events and fundraisers, or update followers on the goings-on at Hammer or the other organizations with which she is involved.
“I really think that volunteering is the ultimate form of networking,” says Ulrich, who serves on the board of directors for the LEAD project and the Young Professionals group of the Wayzata Chamber of Commerce, among even more things.
The LEAD Project (Leadership Emergence and Development Project) is just one way Ulrich is able to share her expertise with others. The sole purpose of the group is to connect volunteers with charitable and philanthropic organizations based on their particular skillsets.
“She’s very good at building relationships and working on a team,” says Ellen Timmerman-Borer, director of development at Hammer, who first made the move to hire Ulrich as a paid intern in 2008. “She will clearly drive her future wherever she wants to go.”
It’s because of her goal-oriented and teamwork-driven mindset that Ulrich is able to make things happen for herself. “I’d rather fail and say I tried than not try at all,” says Ulrich. “It’s a good thing because I push myself out of my comfort zone.”
In 2010 she was the recipient of the chamber’s Star Award for her work in local nonprofits. Her work reviewing the chamber’s print communications, website and map; developing a vision for the future of the Young Professionals group; and creating and planning events for the group were all factors in her receiving the award.
“Bridget is one of our most engaged members,” says Nicole Biskey, membership services director of the Wayzata chamber. “She thinks of creative ideas and solutions. One thing I appreciate about Bridget is that she acts upon those creative ideas. She does not leave it to the chamber staff to initiate and to make her ideas a reality. She takes an active role in seeing her ideas become reality.”
For Ulrich, striking a balance between work and pleasure is easy. On her days off, you can find her at brunch with her friends or running around the lakes in Plymouth. However, she asserts that there is nothing more fulfilling than pursuing her passion. While she might not know what the future holds, Ulrich is sure she’ll stay in the nonprofit sector for decades to come. “It’s a lifestyle for me, rather than work.”