When Andi Gollwitzer interviewed for a communications job at the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, her restaurant experience struck the staff there as a plus.
“Juggling a lot of balls, being nimble, handling last-minute changes … it seemed well suited,” Membership Director Elisabeth Rohrbach said. “That has turned out to be the case.”
Gollwitzer, 23, was hired as communications manager in October and quickly brought her ability to pivot into play when the COVID-19 crisis spread to Jackson Hole.
As the chamber pulled out all the stops to help businesses and the community, the already-robust responsibilities of Gollwitzer’s job expanded and turn-around times grew shorter.
“Everything has been a lot quicker,” Gollwitzer said. “It’s requiring me to stay on my feet.”
Among her normal tasks are creating content for the chamber’s website, updating its Instagram and Facebook pages, composing a “Teton Tales” destination newsletter that goes to 30,000 people around the world and writing a weekly “Lowdown” chamber email update for members. She’s still doing all that, but sometimes in different ways.
“In early March we reached out to all of our members,” she said. “For about two weeks the majority of my day was calling members and asking, ‘Are you OK? Can we help you?’ … just offering ourselves as a resource.”
For her web and social media writing she shifted away from fun topics like brew pubs and park happenings to weighty matters like Paycheck Protection Program loans and other business resources.
She has also been involved with 22Local, a portal where restaurants and shops sell gift certificates that will be worth more when customers redeem them — a revenue-boosting effort to help merchants through recent hard times.
And those weekly bulletins are no longer just weekly.
“It’s not all day to create a beautiful email once a week,” Gollwitzer said. “Now it’s daily, and it’s serious. ... It’s taught me a lot about disseminating important information to people that matters.”
Since the pandemic Gollwitzer has also been participating in weekly meetings of local public information officers, who include people from the school district, the national parks, the town and county, and a variety of nonprofits.
“Everyone gets an update,” she said. “That’s been really interesting and eye-opening.”
Those meetings were a little intimidating at first, she said, but she has grown comfortable with community leaders across the county. It’s a silver lining to the COVID crisis.
“Everything that’s gone on, it’s helped me build relationships with people quicker,” Gollwitzer said. “I’ve had to reach out to people and collaborate with people on things I wouldn’t have done under different circumstances.”
Rohrbach admires how Gollwitzer has handled herself: “She’s quiet,” she said, but “when she does speak it’s very important.”
Though Gollwitzer is in communications now, the restaurant business is in her blood. Her mother runs the fourth-generation, woman-owned, family Italian restaurant, Ferrante’s, in the Milwaukee suburb of Mequon. Gollwitzer began washing dishes there at age 11 and over the years handled a variety of other jobs, including bartender.
“I could still go back and run it if I want to,” Gollwitzer said, “but my mom is young and doesn’t want to retire yet.”
Besides, she said, “I’ve always been kind of adventurous. Staying in Milwaukee was a little stagnant for me. I just keep moving.”
After high school she headed west to attend Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in strategic communication with an emphasis in public relations and minor in English.
“The word ‘strategic’ means you can almost go in any direction with it,” Gollwitzer said. “That’s what really appealed to me.”
She studied everything from journalism to business communications, essay writing and social media — like how to write Instagram captions. She and her classmates even practiced crafting slogans for dynamic highway signs.
“Learning to write effectively with minimal words is actually very hard,” she said.
In the summer of 2018 she tended bar at the Teton Club, and after graduating from college in the spring of 2019 she returned to Jackson Hole and settled in. She worked briefly as restaurant manager at OYG in Caldera House, and then the chamber position opened up.
“I wanted to get a job doing what I went to school for,” she said.
In particular, she said, “I wanted to work for the chamber because I wanted to be part of the community. I wanted to understand how a community like Jackson operates.”
But her life isn’t all work. One of the activities Gollwitzer enjoys in her spare time is trail running with Avalanche (Avy for short), her and her boyfriend Brendon Weber’s golden retriever. She recently completed her first half marathon, the Xterra Trail Running World Championship in Hawaii, even though she had never run more than 9 miles previously.
Gollwitzer’s willingness to jump into things like that is another thing that impresses Rohrbacher.
“The chamber is stronger because of her,” Rohrbach said. “I smile and laugh more because of her. It’s her youth and coming in with a fresh perspective and being excited.”
Gollwitzer likes where she is. As she had hoped, the chamber job has made her feel like part of the community and taught her how it works.
“The chamber has really done all those things for me and more,” she said.
And she enjoys the crew there.
“It’s awesome working with so many strong women,” she said. “I felt totally like a rookie coming in there straight out of college. Everyone has been a great mentor.”