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Face to Face with Tracey Andrus

by Pamela Kleibrink Thompson, photography by Jim Peterson

As one of three daughters of former Governor Cecil Andrus, Tracy Andrus understands the importance of vision, perseverance, and passion.  She recently shared with us what she likes best about the Gem State and her plans here.

What do you like most about Idaho?

I love to be outdoors enjoying many different forms of recreation close to home.

What do you like most about living in Eagle?

Eagle gives you a small town, intimate feel, and yet you have access to all the amenities of a larger city.  It’s thirty minutes to anywhere.  We’ve lived in Eagle for 17 years and watched it grow up.  It’s a wonderful place to live.

What are your greatest passions?

I’m passionate about a number of things.  I’m passionate about the need for women to take their rightful place in leadership positions within our various levels of government, our businesses, and our boardrooms.  We have equal brainpower and equal talent, and we need equal representation.

I also have a passion for education.  Knowledge is key to individual empowerment.  When we give people the tools to help them become what they want to be, the world becomes a better place.

Those who know me well say I’m also pretty passionate about Bronco football. We also absolutely love going to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.  There are so many gifts that this community has received from generous patrons and their families.  It’s remarkable.  They have created a culture of giving back and more and more families are stepping up.  JUMP is just the latest example.  What an incredible gift.

Who were your biggest influences?Web2

My parents first and foremost.

My mother, Carol, was the glue that bound us together.  She made sure we all sat down to the dinner table together each night and talked about our day. And although Dad was frequently away traveling around the state, we knew when he was with us his focus was on us 100%.

My father also taught me the importance of integrity—doing what’s right without concern for the consequences.  At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with the person in the mirror.  He showed me the importance of being true to who you are and doing what you know in your heart is right.

Why don’t more women run for office?

Serving as an elected representative carries a lot of costs. It takes a lot of time away from your family. Furthermore, the people who don’t agree with you are frequently the most vocal.

I believe any woman with the talent and desire to serve in an elected position can get there if she has a mind to.  It may be harder for women than men, but we’re used to that.

It’s important not to be afraid of losing.  I ran for Boise mayor in 1993 and lost.  But what I learned is that you don’t have to win to benefit from the experience of getting involved.  I’ll always cherish the friendships I made, and feel good about the issues I helped raise.  My loss led me to my career at Blue Cross of Idaho and meeting my husband, Jack Myers.  I have no regrets.

What are your current projects?

At my father’s request, I became involved with the Andrus Center for Public Policy a couple of years ago and I am currently serving as its President.  My father is one person I don’t say no to.  We’re currently working to complete our endowment to ensure our work on Dad’s legacy issues—the environment, public lands, education, and leadership—continues in perpetuity.

We work closely with various government agencies and user groups on environmental issues that face Idaho, the American West, and the nation—issues like reducing the size, severity, and cost of rangeland wildfires.  Our current education efforts focus on the need for early learning opportunities for Idaho’s young children.  Almost half of Idaho’s children enter kindergarten without the skills they need to be ready to learn. Those who are behind when they enter kindergarten frequently stay behind.  We have to do better on that front—it’s just too important to ignore.

And, of course, we hold our annual Women and Leadership Conference each September.  This past year we had almost 700 women—and men—attend.  It’s incredibly important that both women and men are part of the dialogue on how we bring about an answer to the continued under-representation of women in positions of leadership.

Like her father Cecil, Tracy Andrus is a warm, genuine person who is enthusiastic about improving the future of Idaho.