Whether she’s summiting the 11,884-foot northeast face of Pingora Peak in the Wind River Range to attend her own wedding, or taking the 2019 Leadership Wyoming class to the legislative session in Cheyenne, Mandy Fabel is Wyoming.
“Wyoming is a state where you can live a very full life,” said Fabel, who has served as the executive director of Leadership Wyoming for the past year.
“One of the largest factors to why I love living in Wyoming is that you can adventure and play. That is such a part of the fabric of our communities,” she said. “You don’t have to spend time waiting in traffic or standing in line at the grocery store. All of those minutes add up to hours and experiences you can have outside enjoying all that Wyoming has to offer.”
The Wyoming Office of Tourism has declared 2019 the “Year of Wyoming Women,” as the state celebrates the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage. On Dec. 10, 1869, Wyoming territory passed the first law in United States history granting women the right to vote and hold public office, more than 50 years prior to the U.S. ratification of the 19th amendment.
And every year since, Wyoming women have been doing amazing things.
“Mandy is an enthusiastic, engaging bright young leader. She is a rising star in Wyoming,” said Rosie Berger, ENDOW executive council member and former House majority floor leader.
Berger herself was the first woman to ever serve as House majority floor leader.
“Mandy is an adventure-seeker who truly enjoys all that Wyoming has to offer. It is a privilege to work with her and the Leadership Wyoming program,” Berger said. “Mandy gives me hope in the future of Wyoming.”
Fabel grew up in Sterling, Colorado, and found her way north when she enrolled in graduate school at the University of Wyoming. She earned a master’s in business administration and went to work as a wilderness guide, leadership coach and in a professional capacity in the office at NOLS in Lander.
“I grew up in a small, rural town, so coming to Wyoming didn’t feel all that different to me. I felt at home in Wyoming,” Fabel said.
After NOLS, Fabel worked for three years with the Wyoming Community Foundation, a statewide philanthropic organization based in Laramie.
“I would say that transition, going from NOLS to the Wyoming Community Foundation, was part of my path to falling in love with Wyoming,” Fabel said. “As I traveled around the state and got to know people and communities, I really saw the passion and the kindness that people have in this state. I felt like that resonated with my own values and the things that I want to base my life around as well.”
Fabel participated in the Leadership Wyoming program while working for the Community Foundation, and a little more than a year ago, saw that the executive director position was open.
“I just thought, ‘Gosh, this is my dream job, and I’m going to go for it.’ I threw my name in the hat and was incredibly honored and humbled when they selected me,” she said.
When she was a participant, she was aware that she was one of the youngest members of the class. But Wyoming is a place where — through hard work and dedication — people can take hold of opportunities that might not be available in other states.
“It’s been this incredible opportunity to get to know amazing people across the state,” Fabel said. “It has been such a rewarding experience over the last year.”
Vickery Hall, director of donor relations at the Wyoming Community Foundation, said that she considers Fabel a true friend.
“Mandy is solid gold. She is exceptional both personally and professionally,” Hall said. “Mandy became a pen pal to my daughter before my daughter learned how to read or write. She pays attention to what matters.
“So on what level should I talk about Mandy? The professional level? The personal level? She is incredible,” Hall said.
Hall said she was lucky to work with Fabel for a few years at the Wyoming Community Foundation.
“We miss her at the Community Foundation, but we are so excited to see how far she takes Leadership Wyoming in her next chapter. I look forward to what the next few years will bring,” Hall said.
Wendy Smith, vice president of strategic communication at Sheridan College and longtime member of the FAB Women’s Conference planning committee, said that Fabel’s desire to positively affect the world around her is obvious in everything she does.
“She approaches life with energy, integrity and compassion, and values the relationships she builds with others,” Smith said. “We are fortunate to have such a leader and role-model working toward the betterment of Wyoming.”
Fabel said that the values held by people across Wyoming mirror her own, and that they are not limited to people by gender.
“I think the values of Wyoming — hard work and passion and kindness — apply to everyone,” she said.
She said that she doesn’t spend too much time thinking about whether being a young woman has been an advantage or a disadvantage, because it has likely been both at various times.
“I would much rather focus on being the best leader that I can be,” Fabel said — but with that comes a certain awareness of her own influence.
“As a society we seem to be increasingly afraid of failure or broadening our horizons, and I especially see this in young women,” Fabel said. “My advice is to find ways to embrace failure even if it is small. By giving yourself permission to fail, you will be amazed at how much more you can achieve.”
Fabel encourages others to surround themselves with people who embody the qualities they want to exemplify.
“Eventually they will rub off,” she said. “And if you see a small window of opportunity, gain as much momentum as you can and jump through it. Ask for help when you need it, and help others as you go. That’s the power of living in community.”
Fabel said she’s grateful for the mentors in her own life. She harvested her first antelope last fall, and also enjoys rock climbing, mountain biking, snowmobiling and dirt biking.
“I have had some wonderful mentors, both women and men, who have been tremendous influences,” she said. “Even in the last year, I decided I wanted to learn how to hunt, and I had people who helped me through that process. There was no, ‘You are a woman, you can’t do that.’ It was just, ‘You want to learn that? We will help you.’
“And I think that rings true professionally too,” she added.
By Carrie Haderlie
Editor’s note: On Dec. 10, 1869, Wyoming territory passed the first law in United States history granting women the right to vote and hold public office. At The Sheridan Press, we are counting down to the 150th anniversary with a new series, “Year of Wyoming Women,” to be published on the 10th of every month.