Andrea Bauer named Chamber’s NextGen Leader of the Year
Leader of the Year
For consistently and selflessly working to improve the Great Bend community, Andrea Bauer was awarded the 2020 NextGen Leader of the Year award from the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce. Surrounded by her family, Bauer received the award during a surprise presentation in mid-February, with the public announcement being made during the Chamber’s virtual Awards Night on Saturday, February 20, 2021.
Andrea didn’t wait until adulthood to start leading and advocating for her community. Even as a child, she was already stepping up to do her part and represent her hometown. As a member of 4H, she was active in youth leadership at a district level. She and her twin sister, Ashlea, were talented vocalists and performed all over the Midwest. They even starred in a television commercial for Delp’s Christmas Tree farm, helping draw visitors to the area.
After graduating from GBHS in 2002, she attended Barton Community College for a year before departing for Oklahoma City University where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Entertainment Business. It was during her time at OCU that she began to excel in public relations, event planning, and fundraising. In addition to classroom learning, college experiences would take her to England for a summer study abroad program, to Taipei Taiwan where she managed over 300 costumes for 25 dancers during an international performing tour, and to the Oklahoma State Capitol where she gained civic leadership insight through Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature. Twice she was recognized with the University’s Cobalt Award as the Top Sophomore and the Top Senior in her degree program.
After completing her college education, Andrea put her passion for her alma mater to work as the University Advancement and Event Specialist for OCU, where she produced a wide variety of events and fundraising initiatives. Her reputation as a talented and visionary event planner opened doors for her next role as an Event Producer for EPIC Entertainment at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City. Over a span of about five years, Andrea handled contracts for big-name organizations such as Bill Self’s Assists Foundation, Bayer Animal Health, Symphony in the Flint Hills, and many others.
Andrea married her high school sweetheart, Rob, in 2009 and the couple remained in the Kansas City area for several years while they built their careers and their resumes. “Andrea has always impressed me, because she can handle so much and she makes it look so easy,” Rob says. “Just one example was an annual fundraising luncheon she helped establish – ‘Women Who Change the Heart of the City’ benefitting City Union Mission, a non-profit homeless shelter in downtown Kansas City. That event continued for 10 years, generating tremendous support for the organization from notable donors - Helzberg Diamonds and the Hunt family just to name a couple.”
Managing six-figure budgets and coordinating several hundred people to execute an event contract was a challenging task that many would shy away from, but Andrea’s natural talent for communication, her detailed focus on timeline management, and her ability to catalyze change created a lot of success for her professionally.
In 2012, Rob and Andrea decided to move home to Great Bend to put down roots and start a family. Andrea brought her many talents to the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, where she was hired as the Director of Sales & Member Events. Not only did Andrea help grow the Chamber membership numbers, she also developed many of the sponsorship programs and networking events that are still in place today. She was pivotal in the success of the Chamber’s fundraising initiatives, such as the Annual Meeting & Banquet, the Farm & Ranch Expo, and the Big Bend Bike Rally and Hahn Brothers Supercross Shootout that drew thousands of spectators to Great Bend each year. During her time at the Chamber, she also played a critical role in the growth of the Barton County Young Professionals program. In 2018, Bauer left the Chamber to serve as the Public Information Director for USD 428, and also serves on the Education Foundation Board as a part of her role for the school district.
“Andrea has such an impressive professional resume, but that’s not why she’s being recognized with this award,” says Megan Barfield, President of the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce. “Outside of work, Andrea has done so much to advocate for the improvement of our community, some of which people probably don’t even realize. She doesn’t do it for the recognition, but she deserves it all the same.”
Andrea is an active member of the Barton County Young Professionals group, the Prairie Godmothers, and First United Methodist Church. She was instrumental in the launch and growth of the evening MOPS group here in Great Bend, a group for mothers of small children to grow in their faith and connect with other parents. She also serves on the Great Bend Rec Commission Board and serves as an Ambassador for the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce. Because she is passionate about education and civic engagement, she volunteered on the Committee for Safe Schools in 2019. Her newest volunteer project is just getting off the ground now, where she is serving as co-chair for the Barton Arts Movement (BAM), an initiative to create community pride through public art and murals throughout Barton County.
“I am honored and humbled to receive this award, especially when I feel that the work I do in the community is just part of being an engaged citizen and part of creating a better future,” Bauer says. “It was really special receiving the surprise news with my oldest son there to see it. And then getting to talk to him about why it’s important that we all do our part.”
When asked about what inspires Andrea to give so much of her time and talents as a volunteer, Bauer says, “Something I try not just to say, but to actually do, is use my voice to be a positive advocate for Great Bend. Yes, there will be things that aren’t perfect, but if we all can be a cheerleader for the things we love about our community, we can put our hearts and our hands to work to make things better for the next generation.”
Andrea and her husband, Rob, live in Great Bend with their three sons - Brock (7), Wesley (4), and Mason (2). In her limited free time, Andrea enjoys crafting, spending time with family, and traveling.
NextGen Leader of the Year Award Criteria
The NextGen Leader of the Year award is presented annually to an individual creating a meaningful impact as a rising leader. Nominees are leaders in their work environment, as well as in the community.
Previous NextGen Award Recipients
2019 Ryan Fairchild
2018 Rachel Mawhirter
2017 Jason Mayers
2016 Regan Reif
2015 Matt Hiss
2014 Dr. Nels Lindberg
2013 Kristy Straub
2012 Cody Lee