Andrea Cheek – 20 Under 40

Junior League of Dallas
36 | Education: Texas Tech University

Andrea Cheek brings the same formula for success to her nonprofit work and professional endeavors.

“In owning a business and volunteering in the community, my lightbulb moments have always involved believing in what you’re selling,” Cheek said. “No matter if that’s a product your business sells or a nonprofit you’re raising money for if you aren’t passionate and stand behind it, you can’t expect others to.”

Junior League of Dallas (JLD) was the first nonprofit the former Newk’s Eatery franchise owner got involved in upon moving to Dallas 13 years ago. It served as the catalyst for her involvement with other organizations, including Cattle Baron’s Ball and the Family Place.

“​​Thirteen years later, I have met lifelong friends of all ages and backgrounds. I also learned about our city and the different issue areas,” Cheek said. “My involvement in the Junior League and the training I received through it has introduced me to all the other nonprofits I love and volunteer with.”

She is co-chairing with Highland Park Mayor Margo Goodwin JLD’s Centennial Gala, set for April 23 at the Hilton Anatole.

I love volunteering in our community, and I will always spend my extra time giving back to nonprofits and our children’s schools

The art nouveau-inspired gala will commemorate the 100th anniversary of an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community.

Cheek supports her children’s schools by volunteering with the Highland Park United Methodist Church Day School, Armstrong Elementary, and the Armstrong-Bradfield Preschool Association.

“I love volunteering in our community, and I will always spend my extra time giving back to nonprofits and our children’s schools – that will never change,” she said.

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

For my first job, I worked at a flower shop in high school and drove a delivery van. It taught me to be quick on my feet and efficient. Most floral orders come in the day-of and you must process the order, put it together and have it out the door within an hour.

Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?

When working with volunteers I think it’s always a struggle to hold people accountable to their volunteer commitments while also understanding that we’re all volunteers and have outside lives. I’ve found that this has only become more challenging with Covid and the additional stress everyone is under.  

Toughest business/personal challenge?

Deciding when/if to sell my former restaurants. Being a business owner was a large part of my personal identity, and my stores were like children. It was a challenge for me to make that decision.

Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now?

I enjoy the challenge of working for myself and I do hope to own another business in the next five years. I thought it would be sooner but being a mom during Covid and navigating a new business is not that easy! I love volunteering in our community, and I will always spend my extra time giving back to non-profits and our children’s schools – that will never change.

Fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you?

The year after I graduated from college, I was a travel consultant for my sorority, Alpha Phi. I traveled the country for a year living out of my suitcase and in a new city every four days.

What’s on your bucket list?

I have mostly been at home the last two years with small children. All I want to do is travel anywhere. Bonus points if it’s international!

What do you love most about your community?

Growing up in Stephenville, I am used to the small-town life. I love that the Park Cities has a sense of community like I’m used to, but I also get the benefits of living in a large city.  Our community really rallies around one another when someone is in need. I love that my children get to experience our community events like the 4th of July, tree lightings, and a Friday night football game.

If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?

I have wonderful neighbors that have been very friendly and welcoming to my family, especially to my small children. We are always discussing our yards and how to coordinate our seasonal flowers, so it would probably be a gardening book or show.

What is your favorite local store?

St. Michael’s Woman’s Exchange and Needle in a Haystack.

 How do you motivate others?

Leading a team and volunteers, I try to always stay positive, listen and be thankful. I think it’s also important to be a humble leader and give credit to those around you.

What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

There will be many moments that you don’t understand but trust that things always work out like they’re supposed to. Be kind and keep your head high.

What are you most excited about for the future?

I am excited that things seem to be getting somewhat back to “normal”. As my kids get older, I look forward to traveling more with them and discovering their personalities and interests. There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to my next steps professionally and what my next big volunteer project will be after the Junior League’s centennial year.  The unknowns excite me though.

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, former deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order.

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