Earlier this month, MATTER’s board of directors elected Amanda Escen as board chair. Amanda assumes the position from Casey Carl, who will continue to serve on the MATTER board. As MATTER’s first female board chair, Amanda brings a wealth of experience to her new role. She currently serves as the Manager of Investment Operations at ECMC Group. Prior to joining ECMC Group, she was the CFO/COO of Castalian Partners. She also held various positions in the areas of operations, accounting, and credit/risk management in both the US and Switzerland with Cargill, Inc.
We recently interviewed Amanda to learn more about her and what we can expect from her leadership.
Congratulations, Amanda! We’re excited about your new role as board chair. Before we talk about that, tell us how you first got involved with MATTER.
I first learned about MATTER when I was with Cargill. I was searching for a volunteer activity for my group within Cargill, and when I learned about MATTER’s healthy food program, MATTERbox, I was intrigued. I set up a packing event for my group that inspired me to start an annual competitive packing event within Cargill. After seeing how successful and engaging the competitive packing event was, I started to have a vision that this event needed to be expanded to a greater audience: the Twin Cities business community. I shared my vision with Quenton and Victor; it didn’t take long before MATTERbox Madness was born.
How long have you served on the board of directors and what prompted you to join it?
I’ve been on the board for seven years. After initially setting up the MATTERbox Madness concept within Cargill, MATTER President Quenton Marty and Founder Dennis Doyle approached me about serving on the board. I loved MATTER’s mission and the team, so it was easy to say yes.
I connect with MATTER on so many levels. First, I grew up in a family where volunteerism and giving back were very important. My extended family gets together every year to volunteer at a homeless shelter in honor of my grandparents. The volunteer opportunities at MATTER are very important to me, and I try to support Matter with my participation whenever I can. I also grew up on a farm, so I appreciate the emphasis on agriculture and healthy food. I was raised by a family that deeply appreciates education, so I appreciate that the Innovation Hubs build skillsets and improve livelihoods. Lastly, MATTER’s hospital projects appeal to me because they help people while promoting good stewardship of our environment.
What set of skills do you bring to your new role as board chair?
My background is in finance, so I look forward to helping guide MATTER in that area, especially with the new social enterprise initiative. One of the things I value about MATTER is its emphasis on innovation and its ability to find creative solutions. I hope to be part of bringing some new ideas to MATTER that will help to build on MATTER’s strengths and find solutions in areas where we need to improve. I’m very hands-on and will work closely with the leadership team to keep a pulse of MATTER’s weekly activity with the goal of finding ways the board can engage with what MATTER is doing.
How do you envision MATTER’s future?
I’m really excited about the social enterprise initiative and am eager to work with Quenton and the team to get MATTER to the place where 100% of donor dollars go directly to projects. I’m also excited for the expansion of MATTERbox, particularly the Volunteer Kit. The Kit is a great example of how MATTER was able to pivot quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic and find creative ways to continue helping people as the need for food assistance rose. I look forward to seeing that initiative expand nationally. Beyond that, I don’t really know what the future for MATTER looks like, but I know it will be bright!
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my husband, Mark, and two sons, Anthony, 5, and Sam, 3. In a non-Covid world, my husband and I love to travel and try new restaurants. As a family, we like to be outside. We live near the Arboretum and go there often. We’re also big Gopher sports fans, especially football and basketball. I also enjoy reading, spending time with friends, exercise and sports.
Thank you, Amanda! We look forward to your leadership as we work together to fulfill MATTER’s mission of helping people launch ideas that improve communities.
Read the news release about Amanda’s election to board chair.