20 Under 40: Joe Wicklund
Occupation: Director of enrollment management, Marshall School, Duluth
What do you actually do? I help students and families make important decisions about their education and future.
Years in your job: Four years at Marshall, but I started doing this type of work at the College of St. Scholastica in 2007.
Education: Master’s degrees in business administration and management from CSS, where I also earned a bachelor’s degree in communication/journalism.
Family: My partner; Kate Horvath, and my 450 or so Marshall kids, not to mention two incredible parents, Gitzy and Dave, awesome in-laws, and a wonderful assortment of brothers, nieces and nephews.
Community involvement: I serve on the board of directors for Grandma’s Marathon and John Baggs Foundation, and I’m a baseball coach for American Legion Post 71-West Duluth, at Marshall School and for VFW Post 173-Marshall School.
Native of the area? Yes. I grew up in Solon Springs.
What keeps you here? The opportunity to make a difference in a community which truly matters to me. In the Twin Ports and surrounding areas, you can begin to make an impact right away; you don’t have to wait your turn or wait for someone else to step aside. Mix in wonderful, caring people and the most incredible lake in the world and it’s easy to stay put.
Favorite place in the Northland: Wade Stadium; I feel like I grew up there playing legion baseball, playing for the St. Scholastica Saints and now as a coach with Marshall and West Duluth. That’s always been a special place to me, and now with the investments and TLC it’s even better than when I played there as a 17-year-old.
How do you spend your free time? I tend to dive into volunteering with Grandma’s Marathon events or coaching baseball, so my free time probably looks a bit like work to other people. Beyond that, I’m also a runner, so I’m usually pounding out a few miles in the remainder of my free time.
How can the Northland retain younger people? Continued growth and promotion of some of the great things going on in Duluth right now, such as our world-class mountain bike trails and top-notch theatre and arts. There’s no other place where you can sail, ski, snowboard and surf. We need to continue to highlight those parts of our community paired with professional opportunities.
We need to be quick to say “yes” to new opportunities to draw investment and development, rather than have barriers or resistance in place to slow those chances down. Other communities in the Upper Midwest have had some success in growing their populations and attracting new businesses without the advantages of our natural beauty and community balance, so the playbook for removing any real or perceived barriers to advancement and change is there and doesn’t need to be entirely built from scratch.
Influential person in your life: When I was in high school I was lucky enough to be recruited by John Baggs to play baseball at St. Scholastica, and he became the most important mentor of my life outside of my parents. His lessons in leadership, team building and character continue to shape my life today, long after my baseball-playing days ended. Coach Baggs recruited me back to Duluth a second time (2007) to join the admissions team at CSS as well as help coach baseball. This move helped me find a career I truly love, in terms of helping others with important educational decisions, but also allowing me to mentor many young baseball players, including his son, Maddux. John passed away suddenly in 2009, but he’s still with me every day in how I live my life and support others around me.
What is your biggest accomplishment? With a group of my closest friends, I was part of a coaching staff named Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Baseball Coaches of the Year in 2009, as we all worked together to navigate the season in which Coach Baggs passed away. While the award was certainly an honor, the accomplishment I hold most dear was helping our players, coaches, alumni and greater CSS baseball family navigate his unexpected passing. I know he’d have been proud of both the season we put together on the field that year, as well as how closely we worked to make sure others were supported in that challenging time.
Five-year goals: In my board member roles, I’d like to continue to help Grandma’s Marathon provide amazing community-wide events that showcase a great deal of what’s special about our community and which stretch far beyond the third weekend in June. I’d also like to continue to connect people to the John Baggs Foundation, where very small philanthropic efforts can have a very substantial impact on the lives of families dealing with cancer and the lives of students at St. Scholastica through our scholarship program.
At Marshall, I’d love to visit with more families about the opportunities that truly might be available to them at our unique school. Too often I hear people saying they wish they could afford it, when they’ve never met with me to find out if that’s actually true or not. Nothing can be a bigger game-changer for young people than a positive, transformational experience at their school.
Finally, I’d like to crack that sub-two-hour-mark more consistently during my half-marathons.
Where do you see the Twin Ports in the next five to 10 years? Continue to invest in what makes Duluth unique — our trails, our waterfront, our balance of arts, culture, volunteerism — then we can grow in a way that really fits the area we’ve already started to evolve toward.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently? Kate recently got me a 25th anniversary copy of Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” and it struck a perfect note with me this summer. I think it’s such an uplifting story about the choices we make versus our destiny, and how one can look at those two sides so similarly or differently.
Social media: Beyond the highly informational and occasionally witty posts on Marshall School’s Facebook page and Twitter account, I’m found at facebook.com/wicklundjoe