Dani Wasia may be soft-spoken, but when she speaks, her brown, soulful eyes brighten with conviction. And nothing can hide her zest for life and wide, open spaces. She expresses what and who is important to her easily, drawing you in immediately. Dani hails from Montana, the state of silver and gold, treasured mountains and sprawling rivers, offering a unique richness of culture and community.
“The community I grew up in was full of humble, hard-working, service-minded people. As a result, I’m very values-driven, having been surrounded by those who believe it is their calling to leave things better than they found them,” says the Operations Manager from Full Swing PR.
Dani loves all things leadership, and conveys passion and purpose in talking shop about community—finding it, growing it, motivating it, serving it. Specializing in operations consulting for social-impact and consulting-based organizations, she often steps out of her comfort zone to go the extra mile.
“I am very socially conscious of the work I do,” elaborates Dani. “I try to make sure that the people and teams I connect with feel seen and valued. Servant leadership is paramount to me: envisioning ways to elevate the strengths of the people around me, and finding balance and emotional intelligence in support of the professional and personal needs I encounter. That’s what makes a person and their community thrive.”
How do you define leadership?
Dani: Leadership is the ability to assume good intent, approach situations from a sense of non-judgment, and not take things personally. Most women who’ve mentored me tend to be significantly older than I am. Helping to lead those I work with lies in providing feedback to senior management. I advocate for myself and my voice—and for the ideas of my peers and people around me. Knowing that sometimes a boss might not agree with me but will still respect my input, I feel a responsibility to show up and make things better.
Dani speaking on leadership at Montana State University together with Astronaut Captain Scott Kelly, 2019.
What is your favorite thing about being in the PR space?
Dani: My favorite thing about being in the public relations space is the ability to truly see the social impacts of the work that we do. A lot of the time we face large-scale issues, like climate change and systemic racism. It can feel so overwhelming. I tend to ask myself: What can I do to make a difference?
At Full Swing PR, because of our work and our clients, we get to share stories that are extremely relevant. We partner with clients and companies that are solving problems and are able to see the immediate impact of change and solutions. I also love knowing that, in my role, I get to support the creation of spaces that elevate the voices of women and minorities. It’s really grounding and defines the value of the job.
“A lot of the time we face large-scale issues, like climate change and systemic racism. It can feel so overwhelming. I tend to ask myself: What can I do to make a difference?”
‘Solving problems’ likely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when people think about public relations. Can you give us an example of what you mean by that?
Dani: My company, Full Swing PR, offers crisis communication support in addition to our retainers, coaching program, and VIP days. During my first month at work, we took on one of these crisis communications clients. “Jane Doe,” a staff member in the Idaho state legislature, came forward and shared with the House Ethics Committee that her boss, one of their representatives, had sexually assaulted her.
Then, other colleagues in the House, released her home address to the public, along with photos of Jane Doe and her daughter. This woman was young, in her late teens, and the little girl was only three or four. Elected officials were intentionally compromising her further in retaliation.
We took on the crisis communication for her story, and our campaign helped to remove her boss from office. We also ensured that the representatives working with him, who had shared Jane Doe’s personal information, were held accountable. Others were removed from office because of doing so. This campaign cemented that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
We work primarily in Idaho and Montana, areas where we find more right-leaning communities in general. Our firm, on the other hand, makes a point of identifying as left-leaning and progressive. It’s really validating to work with Republican legislatures in the communities and spaces where I grew up. I get to have a hand in this collaboration, which leads to positive growth and change within the state.
You seem to be on your bike a lot when you’re not working.
Dani: Yes! Mountain biking has definitely made me appreciate the outdoors more. Nothing interrupts pandemic-induced claustrophobia like a hike or just a casual stroll, especially if you’re accompanied by a happy dog. It’s also made me deeply aware of how important it is to be plugged into a community. There’s been so much less opportunity for chance social interactions than there was pre-pandemic. Being a part of a trusted group of great people feels extra crucial to me.
Speaking of being part of a group of great people, your job is 100% remote, and you spend a lot of that time working from Vibe Coworks.
Dani: I think it comes back to finding a place of community. Vibe has been critical in building my career. Being a younger woman in search of spaces where I can connect with other women and members, I’ve found those key relationships and the ability to build upon them at Vibe. It represents community and has helped me to identify my place here after moving from Montana. Vibe is also really great for mentorship.
“Being a younger woman in search of spaces where I can connect with other women and members, I’ve found those key relationships and the ability to build upon them at Vibe.”
Community makes a huge difference. Inspired spaces do, too.
Dani: It feels fresh to walk into the space [at Vibe] every day. It reminds me of walking onto a college campus and being surrounded by ideas and other people who are highly motivated and working really hard. It is empowering, geared towards creating new perspectives and becoming integrated into the communities here, taking part in them where Vibe exists.
“It feels fresh to walk into [Vibe Coworks] every day… being surrounded by ideas and other people who are highly motivated and working really hard. It is empowering.”
What brought you to Poulsbo?
Dani: I grew up in Bozeman and went to Montana State University. My husband, Ryan, and I started dating in high school. He got a job at Keyport as a mechanical engineer, and we knew we couldn’t stay in Montana. Had to get out of the bubble.
It’s really nice to live here and have access to both the mountains and to a big city like Seattle. That’s so new for us.
Is Montana your heart home?
Dani: Yes. It’s got my soul.
Where or when have you been your happiest?
Dani: I’m happiest when I feel centered in the decisions that I’m making. I’ve been actively recovering from an eating disorder for the past year, and I feel that sense of alignment and grounding when I’m in touch with where my body is at, aware of my mental health needs, and honoring those. As a result of those two things, I can say yes to jobs like Full Swing, as well as investing in my relationship with my husband.
What’s been your proudest achievement?
Dani: In terms of life at large, my proudest achievement has really been determining how to be intentional with the life I’m making for myself. Honing in on my values, letting go of pressures or expectations to be, do, or achieve. Also, determining a kind of framework for decision-making around my career and relationships. I’m setting up those pathways to be able to move forward. It’s become more and more important to me to move the bar while feeling that soulful, grounded sense of alignment.
What’s your favorite TV show or movie?
Dani: My go-to is Parks and Recreation. I feel very much in tune with Leslie Knope, the main character. She’s tenacious and quirky and dorky. Also, my parents work for the US Forest Service, so there are funny jokes on the show about growing up in public service spaces.
And last but not least … tell us about your greatest extravagance.
Dani: Definitely mountain biking. And tech. I’ve got a mountain bike and a road bike right now. And on the tech side, I love implementing new technology and systems to try and make things more simple.