Growing up in Toronto, Minnesota Vikings vice president Tanya Dreesen loved reading newspapers, so when she graduated from college she went straight to the Toronto Sun for a job.
“I set my sights on them,” she said of the feisty tabloid. “I loved the power that a newspaper had on people’s thoughts.”
From her start as a project manager at the Sun, she moved to the Toronto Star. She met and fell in love with an “Iowa farm boy,” married him and moved to the Twin Cities. (The couple now have two children.) The day after she got her green card to work in the United States, she started in the Star Tribune advertising department.
Stints with Denver newspapers and the St. Paul Pioneer Press followed, all involving special projects related to professional sports teams. Dreesen liked the way sports could connect readers and the community.
Eventually, she wanted to work more directly in sports, and she moved to the Vikings as a corporate sales manager in 2009, rising in recent weeks to “vice president for partnership activation and special projects.”
Dreesen is now a prominent member of the Vikings executive team, who brings warmth, aplomb and depth to engagements from the formal public presentations to casual chats. She also was part of the crew in Atlanta that won the bid to host the 2018 Super Bowl in the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.
Her task, as she describes it, is to “plus it up” for fans. “We’re trying as much as we can to connect the team and fans.”
Dreesen has managed the effort to install art in the new stadium, sell commemorative pavers to fans and build a replica Vikings ship with a video board. She describes the ship as a landmark where fans will meet and want to take photographs.
“We value the lifelong relationship our fans have with the Vikings. … We look for ways to honor the past, connect where their heart is today,” she said.
She’s constantly seeking opportunities to “elevate” a moment to create something new and different. To do that, she said she tries to “read everything, watch everything and listen to everything.”
Dreesen tries to understand what people want and what pushes them away.
As for being a female executive in the macho sport, Dreesen said that many of the team’s corporate partners are led by women, that Winter Park is a welcoming workplace and that the Vikings work hard to recognize talent and promote from within.
A French Canadian, Dreesen, maiden name DuBois, speaks French and enjoys European travel. She’s twice been to Florence, Italy, for cooking classes and lists Paris Fashion Week on her bucket list, along with the Rose Bowl (she’s a Hawkeye fan) and the Kentucky Derby.
While she’s now an established member of the Minnesota Vikings, she said, “My love was and still is newspapers.”