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WATCH NOW: Rising Star Andrea Northam

From the COLLECTION: Meet the 2021 Rising Stars Under 40 series
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Andrea Northam

Andrea Northam

Andrea Northam is a member of the 2021 Rising Stars Under 40 recognized by the 7 Rivers Alliance and the River Valley Media Group.

Age as of Sept. 1, 2021: 39

Town of residence: Winona

Occupation/company: Senior Director of Marketing, Communications and Media Relations at Winona State University

Family: Partner Chelsea Hanson, Son Calvin (13), Daughter Caitlin (11)

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

I think my proudest moments have often been the result of some of the most difficult moments in my career, and the last few years have yielded perhaps more than their fair share of difficulty. In March 2020, I was serving in a new role — as interim vice president of our Advancement division — and helping to inform and execute an institutional response to the COVID-19 pandemic while supporting a team of 30 people as we all navigated the personal, professional and societal challenges that were brought into stark relief in 2020. Ultimately, I’m proud to have helped lead this university during a time of need, and proud of the team I work with, for the ways in which they came together to support one another and the mission of Winona State. I’m very humbled by the faith and trust my superiors and my colleagues have placed in me in the work that I do.

Please tell us what community and volunteer activities you’re involved with – and why?

I have been involved with the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce off and on for nearly a decade, first as a Young Professional and more recently as a Board Member. I believe in the investments the Chamber makes in small business success – like our shop local campaign! – and the emphasis on community building and raising the profile of the Winona area. I also serve on the Board at the Winona Family YMCA and have been a member since 2011.

I strongly believe in the Y’s message of community wellness and equity and access for all. In 2019, 36 percent of Winona YMCA members received a subsidized membership, with almost $200,000 awarded in memberships and program scholarships. I know how important these awards are because when I first joined the Y as the single mother of two young kids, I was able to qualify for a scholarship. Beyond the financial support, the Y made me feel supported and welcomed, like they were committed to my success too. I love that I get to be a part of that now. More recently, I joined the Development Committee for Project FINE here in Winona County, and I’m excited to soon be joining the Board of the Winona County Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention. In the past, I’ve served in volunteer positions with Trinona, the Winona Human Rights Commission, Ready Set School, Frozen River Film Festival, Habitat for Humanity, and Winona Steamboat Days.

Tell us what inspired you to be a leader in your organization and in your community:

I’m a lifelong Winona resident as well as a lifelong supporter of Winona State University. I believe in the symbiosis between the community and the university, and I think that investment in our community and investment in positive change is the only way forward. Having worked on a college campus for 15 years, and now raising two kids, I see the world through the lens of the future — who and how we want to be — and try to get involved with issues and organizations that have similar missions and values.

What advice would you offer younger leaders to aid their success?

A beginner’s mind is a beautiful thing! “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” (Shunryu Suzuki) The longer you stay in a role, the easier it is to feel like you’ve seen and done everything. While that can be a comfortable place, it’s a boring place, and it doesn’t leave a lot of room for growth. I have to remind myself continually to stay curious and open to possibilities. Listen and learn from those around you. Ask for help when you need it. Above all, be sure to take care of yourself too because you can’t pour from an empty cup.

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