Andrea M Owens


Andrea M. Owens was born in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont on September 1st, 1960 (late stage baby boomer) to Mack Owens and Jacquelyn (Golden) Owens.

Her Dad was born in rural North Carolina on November 7th, 1930, twelve years to the day after Billy Graham, and so too became a pastor, not of a global ministry but a struggling home missionary starting Baptist churches in Canada and the Northeast following his ministerial training at what is now Welsh University in Nashville, TN.

Her Mom was born in rural New Hampshire on February 16th 1936 and became a mother, homemaker and nurse but according to her nursing training evaluation, her strong suit was psychology. Her Mom met her Dad in Nashville where they were introduced by her Moms brother, Tom. Prior to giving birth to her first born child, Andrea's sister Rebecca, her Mom worked at Life & Casualty in Nashville, TN. (A life insurance company) as a clerk calculating eight thousand dividends every three months.

Along with her brother and two sisters, Andrea attended at least ten different schools prior to attending secondary school.

Being a 'preacher’s kid' an abiding faith in a guiding force and deep sense of social justice developed. As a a naturally gifted vocalist she began to sing publically in church as a soloist at the age of six. From the beginning, she was a high functioning introvert, curious, creative and forming patterns in nature and spiritual thinking based on her belief framework, experiences, travel and independent studies. To this day she is emotionally sensitive to sound especially music and disturbed by violence.

Upon her completion of college as a music teacher in 1984 it was difficult to find work. She ended up working in the mailroom of a medical instrumentation company where her brother-in-law worked as a programmer. After 3 years, she was reviewing telecom billing and working as a receptionist.

Her next job was at Digital Equipment (DEC) where she was hired as a Telecom Analyst, which gave her a broad based foundation in IT and Marketing experience for the next six years. The next move was Fujitsu Network Switching, which only lasted two years. She made contact with a former DEC associate and started a small business as an overflow call center for Serif, Inc. She struggled with that for three years and ended up filing bankruptcy on or about 1998.

From there she joined mostly small IT start-ups in Account Management/Business Development positions that ultimately did not work out. By 2004 she was working as temporary administrative assistant for KNF&T Staffing Resources in Boston until her full time position with TIAA-CREF began in March of 2007. At last not a challenging position but stability.

Then one day in May of 2008 everything changed. The new CEO arrived in the Waltham office to meet with the staff and everyone was included in the invitation. Roger met with a group of twenty or so including Andrea and talked about the challenges that lay ahead. Roger shared that several marketing executives recommended that TIAA needed to do something globally with higher education students. In that instant, she became inspired and alive in a way she never could have imagined and began to research that next day. She mentally mapped the history of TIAA beginning with 1918, and that of education in the U.S., looking for a global connection that would fit into a logical strategic direction for TIAA. She reached out to a few knowledgeable players asking probing questions that led her to google the UN website, where she learned the formation of the entity called the Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME). This organization had already formed online training modules for Social Responsibility for global university students working on their master’s degree.

Intuitively, she knew the answer was to piggy back on this technology with financial literacy modules and provide students with the ability to set up the financial portfolios while in college, later adding to make them portable through each career change until the age of retirement. She emailed her findings to Roger and he immediately replied, thank you. The infancy of the idea which she thought would give TIAA a global footprint in services, was actually something even bigger. Roger found ways to encourage her gift from afar so that in time she could fully link her critical thinking process to what her heart strings already knew intuitively.

Over the next three years, her ideas continued to flow freely of what else needed to be added to the plan (see LinkedIN accomplishments) as she would email internal executives her ideas. New organizations and initiatives formed. To her dismay she was not included, yet still she forged on. About five years went by in which time she began to write poetry that mirrored her harmonic vision. Creating poetry became her outlet for inclusion in the formation of the company’s strategy, initiatives, programs and planning. Finally, the full vision of her intuition from the start was revealed to her. TIAA would be the catalyst to change everything by bringing together government, academia, industry, technology, and global philanthropic players to inspire the next generation of students everywhere to become socially responsible by empowering them to be part of a grand framework, a global sustainability model.

Her ever struggling and changing life’s path, filled with seeming missteps, fit perfectly together like puzzle pieces slowly being put into place, leading to her authentic self and full potential. She became self-empowered by realizing her truth in purpose. She was not just a spiritual minded, musically inclined, introverted loner; her passion was peace.

Andrea M. Owens

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