Builder Of Homes, Hope And People

Hero: Jill Christopher

Christopher became the Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Red River Valley more than 7 years ago. / Special to The Forum

Simple, persistent and patient, Jill Christopher recognizes the power of her daily actions.

“Jill has a great attitude and is continually learning ways to improve what the Ronald McDonald House Charities provide for families, to make it a place where families can truly find respite,” says Erica Johnsrud development director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Red River Valley.

As Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Red River Valley, Christopher’s attention to detail led to a decision to increase van rides to and from the Ronald McDonald Houses in Fargo based on previous guests’ feedback.

“This might seem like a small instance, but it makes a big difference to families,” Johnsrud  says.

Christopher first became the executive director the Ronald McDonald House seven years ago, and she continues to have big dreams for the Ronald McDonald House while juggling an active home life in West Fargo with her husband Pete and their two children. An active member of Parent Teacher Association, Christopher enjoys any pinterest project and is always on the lookout for anything with red and white stripes.

Johnsrud and other staff members remark on Christopher’s ability to question their processes effectively.

“Jill is unafraid to ask, ‘Why do we do things the way we do them?’ ‘Is this the most efficient way?’ ” Johnsrud says. “This led to a new purpose statement, revamped mentality of donor acquisition and inspired greater volunteer involvement.”

An aerial photo shows the location of the new house Ronald McDonald House of the Red River Valley plans to build in Fargo-Moorhead. / Special to The Forum

In February, Ronald McDonald House announced its plan to build a $5 million house near Sanford Medical Center on Interstate 94. This vision came after 46 families were not able to stay at the current Ronald McDonald Houses located at 1330 18th Ave South and 1234 North Broadway in Fargo.

“Today we are thrilled to be just over a year out from a new house,” Johnsrud says. “Certainly reaching this milestone comes with varying degrees of challenges and yet throughout the process she maintained perspective and never lost sight of the dream. “

Christopher bestows her gift of perspective through mentoring students at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. and with young professionals at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy through the chamber of Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo.

“She not only has a heart for the mission, but a heart for her team. Jill strives to make sure that everyone is heard and valued,” Johnsrud says. “In short, Jill is a one-of-a-kind gem among the masses.”

Visit to www.rmhcfargo.org to learn more about the Ronald McDonald House Charities and the work they do in the Red River Valley.