Andrea Rhoades COO & Associate Publisher Corridor Business Journal Andrea Rhoades would rather work behind the scenes than seek the limelight, her boss John Lohman acknowledges. But Mr. Lohman, the founder, publisher, and CEO of the Corridor Business Journal, believes Ms. Rhoades deserves recognition for her more than 30 years with corporate and family-owned media […]
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COO & Associate Publisher
Corridor Business Journal
Andrea Rhoades would rather work behind the scenes than seek the limelight, her boss John Lohman acknowledges. But Mr. Lohman, the founder, publisher, and CEO of the Corridor Business Journal, believes Ms. Rhoades deserves recognition for her more than 30 years with corporate and family-owned media companies, her commitment as a community volunteer and her focus on family.
“She has provided the experience, counsel, and discipline that I desperately needed at the time and over these past 12 years,” Mr. Lohman said. “I’m not sure we would have been able to survive without her.”
Ms. Rhoades had recently resigned from the Gannett-owned Iowa City Press-Citizen when, in 2008, Mr. Lohman tapped her to help him operate his then-struggling startup media company. It was a big change for her to go from a structured corporate environment to a business-focused media company that not only published various print publications but also engaged in networking and events, she said.
But the beauty of their relationship is that Mr. Lohman is a business-savvy visionary who does “a lot of things by what his gut is telling him” while she brought corporate structures, processes and procedures, Ms. Rhoades said.
“I’m along for the ride to do the operational part of it to make sure that it’s successful. And it’s been really, really rewarding,” she said.
Ms. Rhoades is a big-picture thinker who likes to hear from team members before offering her perspective. She’s also pretty good at processes and procedures, which she credits to her dad, Donald Rhoades Sr., a longtime educator. He was very much the organizer, not only in his professional career but in the home, she said.
“I think the successes that you bring to the professional side are also what you do in your personal life to keep things straight,” she said. “I think everything crosses over. And I absolutely learned that from him.”
She said surprisingly, her parents didn’t raise her to go into education or any particular career. Her dad instilled in her that everyone has been given a gift or multiple gifts, and she’d have to find her path. He told her, “You’ll find your strength and your niche, and you’ll be great at it,” Ms. Rhoades said.
Her mother Shirley was a homemaker who raised three children — “a heck of a job in and of itself,” said Ms. Rhoades, whose own goal was to get married and be a stay-at-home mom. She did marry, have two “amazing daughters,” and volunteered. But she had to re-think her goals when she divorced.
Looking to her strengths, Ms. Rhoades jumped into the business world and began as the administrative assistant to the vice president and publisher of the Press-Citizen. She quickly worked her way through advertising and classifieds to advertising director, associate publisher and finally, general manager. At the time, the newspaper had nearly 200 employees. She credits her ability to lead, in part, to the training she received through Gannett during her 17 years in daily newspapers.
She also remained committed to volunteerism and has been involved in a variety of causes, from Elder Services to Kids Voting, Handicare, Iowa City Rotary, Cedar Rapids Homebuilders, Iowa City Fourth of July Parade, Children’s Miracle Network and the Alzheimer’s Association, among others.
Ms. Rhoades said she learns from both her mistakes and successes and feels a responsibility to develop talent. Mentoring others is just “paying it forward,” she said.
“I was there one time, and now I’m lucky enough to pass along things that I’ve learned along the way. Just like there were many people in my life that did the same thing for me,” she said.
“Many of the professionals Andrea has mentored are now successful managers, salespeople, artists and administrators for noted Corridor businesses. I can assure you that they all credit Andrea’s leadership as a component of their success,” said Daniel W. Brown, a former co-worker.
Her family has always come first for Ms. Rhoades. She became the primary caregiver for three years to both of her parents until her father died and remains caregiver to her 96-year-old mother, who still lives with her. Family members stays with her mother, which allows Ms. Rhoades to go to work “because I know everything is OK.”
“When I go home, I go home, and I take care of her. I don’t have to worry about work. I’m going to give John (Lohman) a lot of credit. I think a lot of businesses do this now as well as flex-time, but we have it right in the CBJ Policy Handbook that family comes first,” Ms. Rhoades said.
Her daughter, Samantha Kollasch, CBJ’s chief digital officer, said if she had one word to describe her mother, it would be “selfless.”
“She has shown me time and time again that if you have a dream, you dedicate yourself to it, you work hard, and you show every day that everything is achievable,” Ms. Kollasch said.
Being named a 2021 Woman of Influence took Ms. Rhoades by surprise.
“When you think about all the women that have been on this list, it’s quite an honor to be among them,” Ms. Rhoades said.