Q&A with Alysse Gear

Current Employer: Victory Garden Initiative, Milwaukee

Major: Magazine Journalism & English

Graduated: 2011

By Morgan Cannata

Alysse GearAfter graduation, Alysse Gear’s first job was somewhere most journalism majors would strive for —a widely circulated and historic publication. It was at that publication where Gear discovered her true passion, which led her out of the office and onto the farm.

What job did you start at after college?

I was at Reader’s Digest for two years as a copy editor. It was a great job, but I was doing work to help the environment outside work. So I asked Reader’s Digest if they had an environmental committee, and they didn’t. I wrote a proposal, talked to my family and friends about it, and pitched it to HR. They loved it.

What does your job at Victory Garden Initiative entail?

I am our Development and Administrative Coordinator. I write grants, do fundraising, event planning, marketing, social media, finances, and administrative speaking and outreach. We only have a staff of four. Our executive director started the company and branched out from there.

Tell us about one of your events.

I was helping last weekend with our “FarmRaiser” event. It was hosted at our 1.5-acre urban farm called Concordia Gardens. Permaculture is a philosophy to help the ecosystem, so it’s designed with plants, trees, shrubs, and ground covers in a way that they help each other grow. Local restaurants prepared food from our garden, and there were activities, games and classes about the food system. We had about 225-250 people show up. I feel like we engaged a lot with the community, especially since it was our first “farmraiser.”

Why did you start your own blog, People With Panache?

At the time, my friend Kate and I were unsatisfied with our professional careers. We wanted to engage with people who followed their dreams. We interviewed women who followed their dreams around the Midwest. We did interviews for a year and a half once a week. We took a bit of a break from it, but are getting back to it this October. The blog reached a few thousand people around the six-month mark.

What advice would you give soon-to-be Drake graduates?

Get a variety of experiences. Do the things you love, and you’ll learn how to make it your job. There is no right way to do it, just as long as you’re contributing and making a positive impact on the world.

What are your future plans?

I’m still trying to figure out what I like. At Victory Garden Initiative, I’ve gone from having little responsibility to a ton. I just want to keep having a positive impact. I care about the food system because it has serious potential to change the world. We’ll see. I’m not sure where life is going to take me. I’d like to have a farm one day or a food truck selling locally grown food. I’d love to bring locally grown food into a big city where it’s harder to access.

Keep up with Alysse on LinkedIn.