When Josh Gamer looks back over his career, each opportunity he tackled seems to make sense now, even if it didn’t at the time.
“When I look at it in hindsight,” Gamer said, “I see how every piece fits together.”
As dean of the Integrated Technology Division at Western Technical College, Gamer offers that same blend of hope and insight to the students he helps create opportunities for, too.
“As a leader,” he said, “my main motivation comes from knowing that I am setting an example for others.”
And, what an example he sets. When he started out as a production laborer for the RTP Co. in Winona, Minn., Gamer had no idea he would fill his boss’s position after saving his life. Gamer’s training as an EMT served him when his boss was suffering from a heart attack — he was awarded for his quick response time, ultimately saving the man’s life. When a top executive from the company asked him to assume a leadership role, Gamer called it a revelatory moment in his life.
“That’s when I realized I needed to go back to school if I was going to do (the job) full time,” he said.
Flash forward to 2016: In just five years, Gamer advanced his career at Western, moving from a supervisory management instructor and training consultant to an associate dean of the Business Division, and ultimately as dean of Integrated Technology. He earned an associate degree in Supervisory Management from Minnesota State College Southeast Technical, a bachelor’s in Business from St. Mary’s University, and an MBA from Viterbo University. Gamer’s now finishing his doctorate work from the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
When he looks back, he feels fortunate to have the support of his wife, Kristen, two children, and those who gave him chances each step along the way.
“Somebody had to believe in you to give you those opportunities,” he said.
Dr. Roger Stanford, who nominated Gamer for Rising Stars Under 40, spoke glowingly of the man and his work.
“Josh’s decisive leadership and ability to bring people together to address challenges has been instrumental during a time of tremendous change at Western,” Stanford said. “The past two years, Josh has effectively managed significant construction projects and programming modifications as part of Western’s Vision 2020 plan. If you travel down Seventh Street in La Crosse, you will see the progress of transforming an aged building into the Integrated Technology Center, a state-of-the-art center for advanced manufacturing.”
In fact, Gamer’s accomplishments go even deeper, helping to build a pipeline for qualified employees in the region, as well as a deep commitment to the community of Stoddard, where he and his family live. Gamer sits on the local board for “Get Growing,” a community agriculture partnership with Hillview Urban Agriculture, Mayo Health Systems and Western. He’s also an active member of his local Lion’s Club, among many other accomplishments.
His hope? Gamer wants to give others the same confidence he’s felt, as he’s worked hard for each opportunity in education and the work force.
“It is my hope then that those around me, who find value in learning from me, will also provide positive experiences for those they eventually lead or otherwise work with,” Gamer said.