News Go behind the scenes with Omaha Performing Arts

Q&A: O-pa Special Projects Manager Andrea Purdy, 40 under 40 Award winner

Posted On Nov 8, 2019, 17:53 PM by Mary King
Andrea Purdy

Andrea Purdy honored at Midlands Business Journal's 40 Under 40 award ceremony.

Every year, Midlands Business Journal honors individuals under 40 who have exhibited extraordinary drive, leadership and success in their career as well as within the community. This year, they honored one of our own: Special Projects Manager, Andrea Purdy.

The 10-year O-pa veteran co-chairs O-pa's Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Committee (IDEA) in addition to organizing training sessions, facilitating IDEA strategic planning, assisting in event coordination, implementing efforts to broaden volunteer participation and more.

Get to know one of our most dedicated team members in today's Q&A. Andrea answered questions about her job, winning the award and her love of music. 

Q: What do you love most about working for O-pa?
O-pa has offered me professional development opportunities and actively helped me move through roles as I outgrew positions. Also, working for an arts nonprofit is an amazing opportunity, especially getting to see so many diverse performances.

Q: What are some challenges you have faced and how have you overcome those challenges?
 I saw myself outgrowing particular roles within the organization and feeling stagnant. I overcame these challenges by always looking for new tasks to do and showing my supervisor that they were beneficial for the organization. As I acquired more work, I saw a need to create a new position so I worked on developing my own job description and through several months was able to prove it was necessary.

Q: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment to date?
My greatest accomplishment has been positioning myself in areas of my life that I am passionate about and skilled in. Examples would be my job, singing in a band, running Airbnb through my house, etc. If it’s something I care about, I go for it and work hard.

Q: What is the most important skill you have developed in your career?
 I’ve been working hard on public speaking, whether in a large group setting or running a meeting. I still have room to grow!

Q: What interested you about joining the IDEA committee?
I’m passionate about equity among all humans. Period. The concept is so simple and yet our society has placed barriers on people based on their identity. It’s frustrating that our world functions this way but I’m hopeful that it can change, and that it has changed over the years. Joining the committee is my way of actively working toward equity and inclusion, even on a smaller scale. I have a Masters degree in Sociology but I never went down that career path. This committee allows me to use my passion and skills in the real world.

Q: What has been your favorite IDEA initiative? Why?
I believe education is one of our most important initiatives. We offer training courses to better equip our staff and volunteers with tools to creating an inclusive environment. People tend to stick with people that are similar to them and it’s important to encourage everyone to step outside of their comfort zones and find commonalities with someone you don’t normally interact with. The education we provide helps make that process easier.

Q: How has your involvement with IDEA influenced your career/personal life?
 As a manager, direct report and coworker, I try to take the lessons I’ve learned from being in the IDEA committee with me at all times. We talk a lot about unconscious bias and I believe that being in the committee has helped me look for those biases and address them. In my personal life, it’s the same. I always try to be conscious of what I’m saying or how I act because my actions affect others in different ways.

Q: What role does the performing arts play in your daily life?
 Music is everything to me and I believe it’s so powerful. Going to see shows is a necessary part of my life and I just get completely sucked into the music and the message. I’ve also sang in an Omaha band for 8 years and love every minute.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is to trust myself and my instincts. That has guided me through a lot of big decisions.

Q: What does being a 40 under 40 recipient mean to you?
 40 Under 40 is an amazing recognition and I’m tremendously grateful and honored to receive the award. I was surprised when I was nominated and completely shocked to receive it but ultimately so thrilled that my hard work has been recognized.

 Congratulations Andrea! We are so lucky to have you as a part of our O-pa family.