November 15 – Mandy Anderson was eight months pregnant when she took over as CEO of the Boys and Girls Club at Glacier Country last winter.
In the year since taking on the role, Anderson has expanded the nonprofit and her family. It was 12 busy but fruitful months for the young mother.
“It’s been a trip,” she reflected. “It is rewarding and stimulating.”
Anderson got involved in the local association three years ago.
Before moving to Flathead, Anderson obtained a Masters of Public Administration and worked with United Way in Wyoming.
After moving further north, Anderson said she has indeed carved out a new job with the local Boys and Girls Club. She became the Boys and Girls Club’s first Director of Development in 2019.
When the pandemic drove former director Cindy Hooker closer to her family in Florida, Anderson’s go-ahead attitude led the nonprofit board of directors to select her for its interim director.
After a standard application process, Anderson remained the first choice to take on the permanent leadership of the Boys and Girls Club.
It was 365 hectic days ago.
SINCE BECOMING Executive Director, Anderson has accumulated leadership accolades, led the organization through the Covid-19 pandemic and re-established a boys and girls clubhouse in Evergreen.
“That was a lot,” Anderson reflected, thinking back to his first term there.
The Boys and Girls Club offers after-school programs for students of all ages in Columbia Falls and Evergreen, with different focus areas focused on educational and life skills. Everything from snacks and learning to sew, to using a drone, is the responsibility of the Boys and Girls Club.
Therefore, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic put Anderson and his colleagues in a difficult position.
They lobbied to reopen the Columbia Falls clubhouse as soon as it was safe, and they were able to keep all of the organization’s staff on board even when schools were closed.
Students and staff kept busy switching to virtual programming. Anderson’s team found ways to involve students in simple activities they might find at home, such as a contest to see who could make the most padded cradle to lay an egg in.
“They got really creative… I have a rock star team,” Anderson exclaimed.
ANDERSON WAS NOT happy to simply serve the Columbia Falls community, however. She was determined to return to the Boys and Girls Club in Evergreen, where the nonprofit previously operated before financial problems forced her to step down.
Anderson was able to bring the Evergreen arm back to life through partnerships. She has partnered with Psalm 91 ministries to lease space to this organization, instead of going the traditional route of owning the clubhouse.
To make this work, Anderson also used federal funds by purchasing two vans to transport students from school to the clubhouse.
Today, the Boys and Girls Club welcomes between 45 and 50 children after each day of school.
For Anderson, expansion isn’t the only goal. She wants to make sure the club remains sustainable at Evergreen, so the organization doesn’t have to pull out of the community again. At present, she said it was a top priority to secure the future of the Evergreen region for the next several years before it seeks to expand into other regions.
Nonetheless, Anderson sees further expansion opportunities in his long-term planning.
The Boys and Girls Club is in the process of acquiring a new property in Columbia Falls as the facilities there are totally overrun with more than 60 elementary, middle and high school students.
Details of the new clubhouse are still being worked out, but Anderson is confident that local school children will soon be using the new space.
After that, she said she was considering possibilities for Kalispell and Kila. With the recent population growth in the Flathead Valley, the need for after-school programs is only increasing, she said.
FOR ANDERSON, the key to an effective organization lies in the search for a balance. Since becoming interim manager, she has set ambitious goals for the club, but she also repeatedly insists on the need to avoid putting the cart before the horse.
The Boys and Girls Club of Glacier Country is a nonprofit that has been around for two decades, she noted, so Anderson wants to make sure her ideas improve the program experience without introducing too many changes too quickly. .
As a community leader, administration professional, and mother to 4 and 1 year old daughters, Anderson believes she is a natural fit for balance.
To learn more about the Boys and Girls Club of Glacier Country, including the club’s annual Dueling Pianos on New Years Eve, visit bgcglacier.org.
Journalist Bret Anne Serbin can be reached at 406-758-4459 or [email protected]