Just three years after graduating from St. Catherine University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Women’s Studies, Nancy JP Anderson ‘01 experienced a massive life change. On July 18, 2004, Anderson lost her husband, Bill Anderson, who served as president of Midwest Sign & Screen Printing Supply Co. for over 40 years. Just two months later, Anderson was elected as CEO of the corporation in her husband’s place.
Anderson was uniquely qualified for the role due to her service for over two decades on the company’s board of directors, and her thoughtful leadership over the next two decades brought Midwest to new successes, as well as new branch locations. In 2008, Anderson initiated and implemented a strategic plan to carry Midwest through the economic downturn, and in 2013, the company was ranked as the fifth largest woman-owned business in the Twin Cities by revenue.
These achievements earned Anderson recognition within the Twin Cities business community and beyond, including her induction into the Minnesota Women Business Owners’ Hall of Fame in 2017. Upon her retirement, the company boasted ten locations throughout the region, as well as an even more impressive ranking as the fifth largest woman-owned company in the entire state of Minnesota.
Through it all, Anderson maintained a powerful sense of connection to her education — specifically to the St. Catherine University mission of educating women to lead and influence. The same year that she was honored by the Minnesota Women Business Owners’ Hall of Fame, Anderson graduated once more from St. Kate’s, this time with a Master of Arts in Theology and Spirituality.
What kept her coming back? “I support St. Catherine University because of its mission,” says Anderson. “We as women become authoritative in and through our knowledge, and are encouraged at St. Kate’s to pursue positions of leadership in all areas of society. I am such an ardent supporter because I learned firsthand at this University how to find, and then use, my voice both in the public realm and in my private life.”
As a business leader accustomed to making strategic decisions and developing plans for an organization’s future, Anderson supports the University’s efforts to create our own sustainable future. LEAD & INFLUENCE: The Campaign for the Next Level of Excellence is increasing access to a St. Kate’s education by advancing the quality and scope of the Katie experience through faculty development, enhanced academic resources, expanded scholarships, and the preservation and renovation of campus facilities including Our Lady of Victory Chapel and Mendel.
In Anderson’s mind, it’s pretty simple: “It’s time to get these things done. Who would want to enroll or teach in a university where the technology and supplies for learning are outdated? Those who use the spaces on campus need to feel safe and prepared to lead and influence the world after graduation. More than a face lift is necessary to provide for the students and educators of today and tomorrow.”
The efforts of donors like Anderson will ensure that our science facilities in Mendel provide an exemplary learning environment for our students with cutting-edge equipment, renovated laboratories, and beautiful new collaboration spaces on every floor.
In addition to her pragmatic understanding of the University and its needs, Anderson’s emotional connection to St. Kate’s serves as a strong motivation to give. “I had many classes in Whitby Hall,” says Anderson, “and I felt a deep connection to previous students when I walked up those well-worn steps to the second floor. I would think about all the women who had paved the way before me, wearing the path I was now on.”
Anderson’s path so far has taken her from the campus of St. Kate’s to the C-suite of a national corporation and then back again. As the end of LEAD & INFLUENCE approaches on November 1, the University is building its own path, and we owe our momentum to the extraordinary accomplishments and support of Katies like Anderson.