Get to Know YAPG CEO Nancy Wenande
Thursday, September 06, 2018
Nancy Wenande took the lead as YAPG’s CEO in March 2018.
Wenande is a Yankton native who studied at Black Hills State and then moved away for work to Maryland and Nebraska. She made her way back to Yankton to take over her family’s convenience store business in 2000 and notes that Yankton is a nice community to raise a family. Wenande has been married for over 24 years and has three kids, ages 17, 19, and 21.
Our new CEO is a leader with a passion for making her community better. Upon moving back to the area, she jumped right into local politics, serving on the city commission for nine years and for two years as mayor.
After her tenure on the city commission, she worked as public relations director for the National Field Archery Association’s Easton Yankton Archery Center. When the YAPG job became available, she was encouraged by friends to take a look at it.
“People know how much I love Yankton and how much work I put into building relationships,” she explains. “I had no intention of leaving that job — I absolutely loved it. But this new role provides me with a larger venue to keep collaborating with the community and expanding on my Yankton pride.”
Wenande admits the first months were a learning curve, since she doesn’t have a background in economic development. But she’s determined and she’s enjoying the process of getting to know how YAPG works with businesses as well as other economic development groups around the state.
Some of her primary aims have been to assess the organization’s processes, determine if improvements are needed and understand potential challenges. “I’m a big believer in efficient processes,” she says.
For Wenande, no day is ever the same. The role involves a lot of communication and getting out to see what the community and its businesses might need. Part of her responsibilities include calling up companies interested in locating in Yankton or meeting with businesses looking to expand.
She is working with our workforce development coordinator on a recruitment and retention program for CNAs. The program will encourage CNAs to continue in healthcare careers, since workers for such jobs are increasingly in demand. The program is showing great promise and may be replicated in other communities.
Wenande appreciates the broad scope of her duties. “I’m one of those people who works well in an environment that is over scheduled. I like to have multiple projects going on,” she says.
A passion for community services also helps to drive Wenande. At one point, she referred to herself as a “professional volunteer” because she had taken on so much volunteer work. “I find it very rewarding. It feels good to me to give back,” she says. “And you learn a lot about the needs in your community.”
Wenande contributes a collaborative thinking and leadership style to several area nonprofit boards. She says she enjoys working with others to make nonprofits stronger and more effective so that the money donated by hardworking people is put to the best use.
“I feel as citizens in a community, we have an obligation to give back in some way, shape or form,” she explains. “Some people choose financial, some volunteer their time with hands on projects, some volunteer on boards, providing leadership to organizations. I choose all three.”
In keeping with YAPG’s last capital campaign, Wenande looks forward to working collaboratively with other organizations to address housing and workforce issues and to improve quality of life for Yankton’s current and potential residents.