Women to Watch 4

Boise’s Movers and Shakers


The Executive

Debra Leithauser, Director of Corporate Communications, Idaho Power

How would you describe your work ethic?

It’s a cliché, but work hard, play hard. I try to add a little fun to the workplace when I can. On the work hard front, I try to do what I tell my kids: When you think you’re done, do one more thing. Take a deep breath and think about the impact the work you’re doing is supposed to have. I found that going the extra mile has helped me stand out time and time again.

Was there a defining moment that helped you decide your career path?

There are two defining moments in my career; both share a common trait. One was when I left my position as a senior editor for The Washington Post to become an executive. The other was my recent move from being the publisher of the Idaho Statesman to joining the Idaho Power team. In both cases, the defining thing I had to do was embrace change. A lot of time, we stick with what’s familiar. I’ve learned that change is scary—there’s no doubt about that—but so worth it. You grow in ways you never knew you could.


The Chef

Rachel Knickrehm, Executive Chef Life’s Kitchen

Best personal advice you’ve received?

My Nana, Ellen Town, when I was about 12. I was going on a trip I was very excited about. I told her I couldn’t wait and I wished that we could skip all of the days in between. She told me “Never wish time away; you can never get it back. Enjoy each day, no matter what.”

Do you have a hero?

My dad came from a humble farming family, then got into computers, became a computer programmer and in about 15 years was able to sell his business, buy the house of his dreams and live comfortably until his passing last year. I don’t know very many people with a work ethic like his. He never stopped, always doing or fixing something. I remember a few years ago my mom telling me I worked too much. I told her it was Dad’s fault because that is how he taught me to be and I didn’t know any other way.

How has the community contributed to your company’s success?

The community is literally everything to Life’s Kitchen. Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to offer the help to our young trainees.


The Life Changer

Lisa Gier, Executive Director, Camp Hodia/Idaho Diabetes Youth Programs

From your experience, do you think being a female has influenced your approach to business?

I really don’t know. While I don’t know anything different than being me, I feel that my approach to business is easily translatable. I am genuinely driven by a desire to do good, meaningful work, and for my organization to do important things for the people we serve. Don’t know if that is gender, just me or who else approaches business this way, but I do!

Best piece of personal and professional advice you’ve ever received?

Be kind.

What does a productive work day for you look like?

Engage people who want to make life for local diabetic children so much better, and acquire a list of people they recommend I chat with to get on board tomorrow.

Can you name three resources you’ve come to rely on in your day to day of conducting business?

My encouraging family, a great team of staff and volunteers, the to-do list

What would you say is the most effective way to network today?

Meeting new contacts through contacts. If you’re reading this and know me, “hi!” If you’re reading this and we haven’t met, we should!


The Team Builder

Amy Stahl, St Luke’s Health Systems

How has the community contributed to your company’s success?

As an Idaho-based, not-for-profit health system, St. Luke’s is dedicated to our mission “to improve the health of people in the communities we serve.” Our success is based on earning the community’s trust that we will provide exceptional, patient-centered care.

What role do mentors have in achieving success?

The most effective mentor is someone who tells you the truth about your strengths and weaknesses yet also encourages you to strive for new goals and objectives.

What would you say is the most effective way to network today?

In my experience, building trust is the foundation of effective networking. Face-to-face meetings are important as is community involvement. It is important to not only attend events but participate in committees, share resources and volunteer. Consistent follow-through is essential.

What defining moment helped you decide your career path?

I am grateful to have been trained as a journalist. In college, I learned how to analyze and write stories about complex issues. These skills have been fundamental throughout my career in journalism, public relations, marketing and community engagement. Every job has been a stepping stone built on a foundation of writing and emotional intelligence.


The Entrepreneur

Shelby Bills, Co-owner of Graeber & Company

How has the community contributed to your company’s success?

Fifty-three years in business, enough said! We love our community and they know we will always be here to welcome them with open arms, ready to make their day brighter and to create an amazing salon and spa experience for them! Our long-standing history in our community and our loyal guests continue to spread the word about Graeber & Company. I am forever grateful to be a part of our legacy.

How do you manage work-life balance?

I make sure that I am present for my children, family and friends. I work hard to plan in advance so that I don’t miss out on the most important things. For me this creates a work-life balance. It’s not consistent day in and day out. When I need to put in extra work, then I do. My career allows me to enjoy life so balancing it all takes effort, planning and acceptance.

Best personal advice you’ve received?

Through personal growth work, I learned that I am responsible for my thoughts, my actions and my reaction to every situation and that I can choose every day how I show up in the world.



Sheli Gartman, CEO, Women Ignite International

What was your mission at the outset? 

Women Ignite started as a conference. I knew very early on that it would be much more, but I was not sure how it would all unfold. My mission was always to bring both professional and personal growth to people in a fresh, authentic way, with intergenerational mentoring, serving more than we take and developing a space where total equality was honored. It has remained our mission, even as our initiatives evolve and new initiatives are born.

How has it evolved?

From a conference and some networking and charitable events to ongoing professionally coached Masterminds, membership networking meetups, our own publishing company, a millennial initiative, and now executive women’s events and groups, and looking at national expansion. The evolution continues!

Best advice you’ve received? Professional: Be careful who you align yourself with. Personal: Love others as you love yourself.

No. 1 lesson you’ve learned about overcoming adversity?

Let yourself feel the feels, and keep going. Grieve. Process. Get mentored. Do self-care. Rise up and help someone through their adversity. Play for the long game.

What three resources do you rely on every day in your business?

Relationships, social media, my iPhone