This month is INDY's anniversary month. We wanted to highlight and tell you a little bit about all the people who are making things happen behind the scenes. Our INDY Board is made up of five driven, committed and beautiful women who graciously accepted and were honored to carry out the INDY Mission. Over the next month - you will meet them all. I promise you they are all amazing and worthy of reading about.
XOXO ~ Kayla Strand
1. Tell us about you: (Where ya from, married/single, kids, cats, dogs…maybe a fish- who knows. Just give us all the interesting things you want us to know)
I am a small town country girl who loves to travel. A shopping guru. I blame my mom and grandma for my shopping addiction… I’ve become a fitness fanatic. Founder of INDY Foundation, a nonprofit focused on giving back to the cancer warriors of the world. Saleswoman. Bartender. Project Manager. Widow. Blogging and exercise is my stress reliever. I have one fur baby – Maxx, he is my protector. I have my conceal and carry – watch out! JK. I was in beauty pageants when I was just a little tyke… and yes I won! ;) I’ve been told multiple times that I know everyone… I do know a lot of people. Friends and family are important to me, I strive to spend as much time as possible with them. In the summer you will find me at the lake – fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding and probably basking in the sun with a drink!
2. What is your professional background?
I graduated from SCTCC with an Architectural Construction Technology Degree, AAS and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, Organizational Behavior minor from St. Scholastica. Most of my professional career has been spent in the construction industry. I started my career as a drafter for 3 years and have spent the last 7 years working in sales and project management focused mostly on commercial construction. My sales territory is the East Coast from DC to Maine. Yes at times I feel like I spend more time out at East than at home! In addition to construction, I have spent 13 years working in the restaurant world as well.
3. How did you connect with the INDY nation?
I started it in honor of my late husband Kyle Strand. I wanted to be able to carry on his legacy by giving back to others who are in the midst of their battle. It was a dream that Kyle and I had talked about. It actually started as writing a book – Cancer from his side and her side. Then it morphed into how we could help people. It was halted by Kyle’s passing but he made sure to tell me that if I didn’t get working on it every day he would haunt me… he was MOSTLY kidding, I think.
4. Greatest accomplishment:
Becoming a widow at 28 and carrying on my husband’s legacy by starting a non-profit. Something I dreamt of. Something that I am passionate about. Something that I am determined to grow to help others through their cancer journey.
5. Greatest Adventure:
I love to travel… if you didn’t know that already! My most recent greatest adventure was my first trip to Europe with one of my best friends to visit my brother Erik, who was studying abroad. Neither of us had ever been to Europe before. Did I mention we backpacked, traveled on counteless trains, booked our hotels, air bnbs and hostels the night before we flew out. Oh and my friend Brittany booked a room at a honeymoon hotel by accident! We had somewhat of an itineray but we winged a lot of the trip. 10 Days, 3 countries – Austria, Italy and Germany. Definitely a trip of a lifetime!
6. One word that describes your purpose for how you live life?
Can I pick two?!? Grateful and Faith.
The saying goes – life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get. Yep, couldn’t be more true. Unfortunately I was given some bad chocolates – you know the ones you bite into and spit out immediately. However through all the struggles and heartache I have found myself on numerous occasions to be grateful and have faith (something that was said to me 2 years ago and propelled me to follow my purpose and passion). Although my life isn’t exactly what I had pictured for the age of 29, I trust that it’s exactly where I am supposed to be.
7. Life motto:
“Live for today because tomorrow is never promised.” Something I had to learn to come to terms with at a very young age, but it molded me to truly live behind this quote.
8. What is your superpower?
Going 100 in a 55… no literally I have a lead foot. After turning 16, I got 4 speeding tickets in the first year. Knock on one I haven’t gotten one since!
For real my drive to get things done is insane. I am always doing something….
9. What is your At-Bat song (The song that gets you going or they would play if you were up to bat)?
Hmmm… lately it is the song “Whatever it takes” by Imagine Dragons. If you listen to the words it kind of resembles my life at the moment. I will do whatever it takes to succeed and rise to the top.
10. Where is the best place you have traveled?
Oofta… this isn’t a fair question. SO many good places that I have been but I have to go back to the place I call heaven on earth… Hawaii! I went there on my honeymoon and recently went back over Christmas, there is just something about it. So peaceful. So beautiful.
11. One item on your bucket list: It's too long to list but my biggest goal is to hit all 50 states before I am 50. I am at around 35 or 36, so I may be a little ahead of the game!
12. What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
I started College at 17 (summer after my Junior year) and bought my first house at 19. I used to be in beauty pageants when I was little.
13. What is your favorite thing to do with your family?
Spend time out on the lake. Boating, playing yard games, bon fires. I mean why else do we live in MN? Simple – for June, July and August!