The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on April 7, 2011.

I had breakfast last week with a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

And if someone hadn’t told me she was a nominee, I never would have known it. She doesn’t look like Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, or the Dalai Lama, who are some of the people I think of when I hear the words, “Nobel Peace Prize.” Instead, Stephanie Smith looks like a suburban mom – which, in fact, she is.

Stephanie and her husband even joke about what it’s like for a Nobel Peace Prize nominee to sweep the floor, shop for groceries, and clear ice jams from the roof of her house. Those jobs are part of who she is and what she does. She is also a certified athletic trainer, a mediator, an active volunteer, a good listener, and a collector – of stories. It is all of these that led to her nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The place where I had breakfast with Stephanie was at the morning meeting of a Rotary Club in Bloomington. I was the guest speaker, and Stephanie was one of the members present. We weren’t sitting at the same table during breakfast, so I didn’t get a chance to talk with her directly until after the meeting. That’s when I learned more about the work she has been doing for years – listening to and documenting the stories of people who are frustrated and discouraged. People who have complaints, grievances, issues and problems, whether with individuals, companies, cultures, or governments.

Serving as a neutral mediator, Stephanie holds a mirror up to people and to their feelings, words, and concerns. She provides hope, healing, and understanding for all parties involved. Her goal is not only to bring relief and resolution, but peace. And it seems to be working.

To inspire helpful dialogue and action, Stephanie has always used the Rotary’s Four-Way Test: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

It strikes me that we could all improve our lives – as well as the lives of those around us – if we followed the same guidelines in both our personal and our professional lives. These simple principles can be equally effective, useful, and powerful whether we are raising our children, negotiating business deals, resolving conflicts, or changing the world – as Stephanie is doing.

There’s not enough room here for me to describe all of her work and accomplishments, even if I could do them justice. You can learn more about her activities and her Nobel Peace Prize nomination by visiting her website at I’m sure you’ll be as impressed and inspired as I am.

One of the things that inspires me most about Stephanie is that she has taken something that I’ve always viewed as noble and global, and brought it close to home. Much more important than giving me the opportunity to say, “I know someone who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize,” she has shown me that accomplishments of international and historical significance aren’t done only by prominent and powerful world-famous figures. They can be done by people we know. By our friends and neighbors. By our co-workers and acquaintances.

Or by us.

All we need to do is to care. To take action. To help and serve others. And to do what we can to make the world a better and more peaceful place.

© Betty Liedtke, 2011