Sara Hietpas Gavin
“Do something – or some things – that matter,” said Sara Hietpas Gavin ’77 in her Commencement speech to St. Kate’s Class of 2006. “Work is likely to be something that matters to you. Find or build a place that aligns with your values and allows you to be with people you like and respect.”
Sara’s professional life has been a testimony to this advice. She is president of Weber Shandwick, Minneapolis, a 160-person office that’s been rated one of the top places to work in the Twin Cities. She’s represented several high profile clients including Northwest Airlines, Medtronic and the Hazelden Foundation. Notably, she led an award-winning campaign for the Minnesota Department of Health on an anti-tobacco initiative aimed at changing behavior and spurring action among young people.
“If you want to build an enduring business, you have to be known for your integrity,” says Sara. “We’re in the business of helping our clients become respected and trusted. So you need to bring a strong ethical compass into work.”
Sara's company gives generously through its pro-bono program, Making a Difference. Each year Weber Shandwick takes on one nonprofit with which it partners on PR strategy and execution. The company also hosts an annual “Telling Your Story” workshop for nonprofits that provides guidance on how to reach their target audiences. In 2012, 72 individuals from 46 nonprofits benefited from this service.
As a current trustee of Minnesota Public Radio, board member of College Possible (formerly Admission Possible), and former trustee of St. Catherine University, Sara has helped shape the mission, vision and values for these organizations during times of profound change. She also serves on the board of directors for Securian Corporation, and is a past board member of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable.
“All of the organizations affected by Sara’s generous gifts of self and talent are the better for the experience," says Sharon O’Connor ’77, a friend and classmate.
Minneapolis–St. Paul Business Journal named Sara one of Minnesota’s “40 under 40” in 1995, and later recognized her as one of “Minnesota’s 25 Most Innovative Women.” Sara was named one of the Centennial 100 at St. Catherine University, and was recently honored during the Girls Scouts of Minnesota-Wisconsin River Valleys’ Centennial celebration as a Community Champion.
Sara and her husband Tom have raised four children – Ben, Erin, Ryan and Annie.