Andrea Ballard

Profiles of Leadership | Topic 1Who are you?

I fell in love with Italy when I was a 13-year-old student at Kids Who Care Musical Theatre. There were kids from all over the world at camp that summer and I marveled at the idea that there were people all across the world who were so different from me and yet the same in so many ways. This love has led to dozens of language audiobooks, two decades of travel, lifelong friends from places near and far, and eventually brought me back to Fort Worth. While interviewing for a teaching job in Reggio Emilia, Italy, I realized that what I wanted most was to give the kids and families of Fort Worth the world because “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

And now, I find myself back at Kids Who Care where it all began, managing the International & US Relations Programs and bringing kids together from across the world to learn about each other through theatre.

When I’m not looking for host families for these incredible children or line dancing with them at Billy Bob’s, you can find me enjoying Tex-Mex and sangria, hosting game nights, or seeing all of the nominated movies before the Academy Awards. I’m a proud graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and when I’m not in a theatre, you can find me teaching early morning classes at Jazzercise Fort Worth Fitness Center! (2017).

Profiles of Leadership | Topic 2 | Building Credibility

Describe your efforts to increase how others see you as honest.

I came across this saying when I was traveling with my sister. I’m super into street art, so at first I thought it was just a really cool photo I could keep as a memory of a trip I took with someone I care about. But the more I thought about it, the more the saying resonated with me. Often times, people worry about what someone MIGHT be thinking, how someone MAY have interpreted something, or HOW something could appear through a different lens. The possibilities are boundless. Since I came across this mural, I’ve tried to be more honest with myself and with other people. To trust them with my honesty and give them the benefit of the doubt. And in return I’ve found that troubles really do fade out in the open.

Profiles of Leadership | Topic 3 | Vision

Photo Credit: Zuilma Photography

What is your vision for the future?

At Kids Who Care, we talk often about our “Why.” Our ‘Why’ reminds us why we exist, what makes us unique, and helps guide us in our goal setting and strategic planning. This concept comes from a book called “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. The basic idea is that every business can articulate “What” they do or sell, but only a few can tell you “Why” they do it.

My personal “Why” or Vision is to create experiences that will expose others to a larger world around them. My wish is that these experiences will foster learning, relationships, and understanding that will last a lifetime and eventually change the world (hopefully for the better!). A person’s empathy grows as their world expands and they truly get to know another person, culture or place that is different than their own.

This is last year’s KidPower International Welcome Team from Kids Who Care. These kids worked for eight months to prepare for last summer’s camp and acted as ambassadors for Kids Who Care and Fort Worth. We hosted 40+ students from Australia, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and across the United States and this team was instrumental in ensuring every student grew from the experience.