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.

 

At first glance, it was a fete like any other. There were sponsors to thank and a bubbly emcee to lead the charge … but not a single attendee in sight. Not in person, anyway.

“Guests” of the Thank You For NOT Coming Tech Dump Gala, the first-ever fundraiser for St. Paul-based electronics recycler Tech Dump, were encouraged to skip the formalwear and small talk. The novel concept was designed to break away from the waste associated with more traditional galas.

 

Baldamar’s location—next to the Von Maur at Rosedale Center—might give the wrong first impression. The hip, fine dining restaurant is a fresh concept for the area, one that could easily fit into a more foodie-centric area. Randy Stanley, owner of 6Smith in Wayzata, calls Baldamar a legacy restaurant that just happens to be next a mall (he similarly describes 6Smith as a restaurant that happens to have a lake attached). “I’ve always liked this part of the Twin Cities,” says Stanley. “I love the thriving, local community.

 

This fall, chef Jorge Guzman will open a new restaurant, Petite León, in the former Blackbird Cafe space in South Minneapolis. The restaurant will serve dishes with Mexican, Spanish, French, and American influences, that aim to be approachable, creative and delicious.