• Andrea Mokros: Bold Moves in the Bold North

     
    POSTED July 21, 2020
     

For Andrea Mokros, Minneapolis-based public relations executive and independent event consultant, the last decade has been a whirlwind. From serving as special assistant to President Obama and director of strategic planning for then-first lady Michelle Obama, to welcoming newcomers to the Bold North as the vice president of communications and events for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, Mokros shares the key takeaways that inspire her work today. 

M+E: How did you get your start in the events industry? 

Mokros: I got my official start working in government and politics as a scheduler. It required knowing how to think through every step of an event, from movements to run of show to visuals, which lent itself naturally to actually planning the events.

My most significant experience in event planning is in “advance” (the team that travels ahead of a candidate to handle logistics and create those impressive campaign trail visuals with flags and signs waving). It’s basically event planning on steroids.

M+E: What drew you to the political sector? 

Mokros: I caught the political bug in college and it’s proven to be a great outlet for my event planning and communications skills. It’s high stakes, but the best part is creating memories that will last a lifetime. I often think about the look on people’s faces when they would meet the first lady for the first time. I loved making those memories and knowing it was a story they would tell for the rest of their lives. 

M+E: After working in multiple high-profile positions, what have been some of your most powerful takeaways? 

Mokros: In my work with the first lady, I was lucky to have a hand in every single photo you saw of her. We generally created our events from scratch and used them to advance our agenda (for programs like Let’s Move or Let Girls Learn). Whether you saw her jumping rope with kids or doing pushups with Ellen DeGeneres, we had the opportunity to architect those events from the beginning. 

Coming home to Minnesota to be part of the Super Bowl was a passion project for me. I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but I love it here and think the world should know what an amazing place this is. I got to tell the Bold North story every day and help drive excitement about it through events.

Events are about creating memories and telling stories. It’s so much more than checking a box or serving food and drinks. It’s a way to engage an audience and create impressions that drive real (and important) outcomes.

M+E: Most memorable moments so far? 

Mokros: I’m fortunate that my work at the White House, in particular, afforded me such incredible opportunities. I traveled to 21 countries and planned the first lady’s participation in amazing events like the 2012 Olympics and the Oscars. Don’t get me wrong. It’s hard work, but with hard work can come big rewards.

 

Nickole Kerner Bobley describes her childhood in The Woodlands as charmed. Summer days were spent exploring the community just north of Houston. One of her favorite activities was watching the installation of The Woodlands’ iconic public art. She and her friends would sit in awe, perched on their bikes, as the giant cranes carefully positioned the sculptures in place. It had a lasting impact on her. “I attribute my adult love of art to where I lived,” she notes.

 

Tony Michaels is no stranger to navigating choppy waters. The CEO and executive director of The Parade Company, which puts on traditions like America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Ford Fireworks, took the helm of the Detroit nonprofit during tough times, at the height of the financial crisis. “2008, 2009, are you kidding me?” says Michaels.

 

Originally from Ontario, Heather Odendaal got her start in event planning early, serving as her high school’s head of social events. She ended up on the West Coast, courtesy of her studies at the University of British Columbia, and launched her career in Whistler, working for the resort in marketing and events. Today, she’s CEO of Bluebird Strategy, a boutique event planning firm, and CEO and founder of WNORTH, a global community of women who have their sights set on the C-suite.