Building a business with creativity and confidence
By Tori Utley
Photography by Fagan Studios
As many entrepreneurs know, where there’s no risk, there’s no reward. Bringing a great idea to light requires the courage to step out—often unsure of the outcome—with confidence, passion and tenacity. Continue reading
No two days are the same FOR WORKERS AT Rochester International Airport (RST), and it’s a perfect fit for Tiana O’Connor. Her journey began in 2005 with a part-time temporary assignment helping the airport with accounting and marketing. It has evolved into a fulfilling career for O’Connor, where she serves in the role as the airport’s first full-time marketing and communications manager.
O’Connor is responsible for guiding strategy for all communication, including public relations, media relations and advertising for the airport and its newly established routes and services. “A compelling brand story needs to be authentic in order to make connections. It’s really about the big and small stories inside that help tell a bigger story. I love my job because I get to find and tell the real stories inside the airport.”
THE TITLE “ARTISTIC DIRECTOR” IS LISTED IN NEARLY ALL PROGRAMS OF LIVE THEATRE, FOLLOWED BY A NAME. Sometimes the first page contains a note from the director with thoughts about the playwright, the actors or the overall production. That’s about all we know of the person behind the curtains—the one who assembles the designers, cast and crew; the one responsible for helping each actor realize their full potential resulting in a remarkable, memorable and profitable show; the one who quite possibly is entrusted with the fate and future of the theatre itself.
It’s a long and winding road that leads a director to be the driving force behind the curtain, and for women sometimes the road is fraught with bumps, twists and turns. Southeast Minnesota has numerous women who have traveled the road and are now successful and prolific theatre directors.
SHE PAID HER DUES
Cheryl Frarck has worked her magic on numerous stages. “I began as a drama director while teaching at a high school,” Frarck says. “That was almost 50 years ago. I was frustrated with the lack of importance the drama department was given and subsequently the lack of respect for the drama director.” She wanted to focus on educational theatre, to “create generations of theatre lovers.” Frarck made an impact on the high school stage for many years before making the transition to community theatre.
MARISSA LARSON HAS HAD HER FAIR SHARE OF CHALLENGES. FROM LEARNING TO ACCLIMATE TO LIFE AS A DEAF PERSON TO EXPERIENCING ALCOHOLISM AND DEPRESSION, HER STORY CAN TEACH US ALL ABOUT THE VALUE OF RESILIENCY—AND HOW BOUNCING BACK FROM DIFFICULTY IS WHERE OUR GREATEST PURPOSE CAN BE FOUND.
We Can Do Everything But Hear
Larson has been deaf most of her life. The idaho native lost her hearing when she was just 3 years old for reasons doctors could never explain. Having to learn to live, communicate and play differently, Larson says growing up deaf wasn’t always easy. And with a few family moves across the country—from Idaho to Texas and, finally, to Minnesota—it was challenging to find friends and build a community.
“It wasn’t easy growing up b-eing the only deaf person in my school,” Larson says. “I was bullied, left out a lot and struggled to make friends who were willing to learn sign language or take the time to get to know me.”
But Larson knew, as do others living with a disability, that she was much more than a deaf person. She was a daughter and a friend, excelled academically, had a great sense of humor and was a great athlete. Today, as an advocate for the deaf community, she’s made it her mission to educate others who “can do everything but hear.”
LOCALS IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA ALL SEEM TO KNOW “THE ISLAND IS CALLING.” THE AMAZING SUCCESS OF TREASURE ISLAND RESORT & CASINO CONTINUES TO BLOSSOM AND GROW OUT OF A SAD SACRIFICE IN OUR MINNESOTA HISTORY.
SOVEREIGN NATION BEHIND THE RESORT
The Prairie Island Indian Community owns and operates Treasure Island, which is tucked into the rolling river valley near Red Wing, Minnesota. The tribal members are descendants of the Mdewakanton Band of Eastern Dakota, also known as the Mississippi or Minnesota Sioux. Mdewakanton means “those who were born of the waters.”
THOUSANDS OF SINGLE MOTHERS IN SOUTH-EASTERN MINNESOTA RECEIVE SOME TYPE OF GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE AND STRUGGLE TO PROVIDE THE BASIC NEEDS FOR THEIR CHILDREN. JEREMIAH PROGRAM’S HOLISTIC APPROACH HELPS TRANSFORM TWO GENERATIONS AT A TIME BY PROVIDING EDUCATION, TOOLS AND RESOURCES FOR BOTH MOTHER AND CHILD.
JEREMIAH PROGRAM EXPANDS TO ROCHESTER
Jeremiah Program was founded in Minneapolis in 1993 by Michael J. O’Connell. He gathered leaders in the area from the key sectors of business, education, faith, government and philanthropy to move the vision forward. The program has continued to expand into other cities across the nation.
Bring Back Who You Were Before the World Told You Who You Should Be
In 2014, Danielle LaPorte wrote a book that caught the attention of so many women, even Oprah noticed. The book, “The Desire Map,” suggests we are setting goals in the wrong order. Instead of creating to-do lists, completing our tasks and hoping to feel accomplished, Desire Mapping recommends we first figure out how we want to feel. By repositioning our feelings to the top of our priority list, LaPorte claims decisions will be less stressful to make, it will be easier to say no and we can all be a little more open-minded and optimistic. Simply put, Desire Mapping is a method for framing your life around your desires.
DESIRE MAPPING IN ROCHESTER
Heather Ritenour-Sampson is the owner of Yoga Tribe, a boutique urban yoga studio located in heart of downtown Rochester. “I discovered the Desire Map process when working with a business coach from California,” Ritenour-Sampson explains. “When my coaching began, I couldn’t even say what I really wanted for my life. As a wife and mother, I felt like my primary role was to make sure everyone else was happy, not to focus on myself. I also didn’t believe what I wanted mattered, because I couldn’t have it anyway.”
Local organization rescues excess food from area businesses for those in need.
Community Food Response (CFR) is feeding the hungry in Rochester. Week after week, many families come on foot, by bike and bus, to receive bread, fresh produce and prepared food that would otherwise go to waste. The need to feed the hungry—and CFR’s vital service—continue to grow.
RESPONDING TO A NEED
One in nine Minnesotans struggle with hunger, and one in six children do not have enough food to eat. Yet one-third of food is wasted. Locally, one in three Rochester school children qualify for free or reduced school lunches. Many people do not have enough food to lead healthy and active lives. They go to bed hungry, and they wake up hungry. Their refrigerators and cupboards are bare, and finances are low, so putting a decent meal on the table becomes a struggle. Rochester is not immune to the challenges of hunger.
The Women and Spirituality Conference is a multi-faith, educational, healing event that brings together diverse spiritual traditions to create an atmosphere of shared spiritual growth.
With 90 exhibitors and 84 speakers in the 2017 program, participants can explore religious traditions in a nonjudgmental, supportive environment. After 35 years at the University of Minnesota-Mankato, this year, the conference will be held in Rochester. Highlighted are the local women who will combine spirituality, art and community into the two-day conference, running September 16-17 at the newly renovated Mayo Civic Center.
Terri Allred, Women and Spirituality Conference producer, begins, “I sent the intention into the universe to do more work in the spiritual realm of my life and utilize my master’s degree in feminist theology. At that time, I was already producing an international belly dance event in San Francisco, as well as helping produce local events like ROCKchester and the World Festival. Literally the next day, a friend contacted me about this amazing conference looking for a new producer. Just two days later, I was in Mankato talking about details. The rest is history.”
If you’re energized by group fitness and love being outdoors, Zumba® on the Plaza is the thing for you.
Back for its fifth summer, you can join Zumba on the Plaza on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. “It’s a fun workout,” says founder, Sara Pennington. “And it’s gotten bigger every year.”
THE ZUMBA BACKSTORY
The first year, Zumba on the Plaza was held during the lunch hour. A smattering of people attended, but many let Pennington know they’d prefer an evening session instead. The next year, Pennington changed things up by scheduling the class at 5:30 p.m., and that’s when it really took off.