Anna Patty isn’t afraid to dream big and take risks—characteristics that served her well not only at the University of Iowa—but also today as a business owner, as a community leader, and as a mother of four.
Patty, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Spanish in 2003, always wanted to be a Hawkeye. After graduating from high school with a class of 65 students, she was ready to take a risk on transitioning to a large college campus. Her dreams of becoming a Hawkeye outweighed any concerns from family and friends.
“Coming from Lincoln, Iowa, a town of less than 200 people, many thought I would feel overwhelmed at Iowa. It was much the opposite. The professors provided a warm and nurturing learning environment, and I felt at home in the journalism school because everyone knew one another and truly cared about one another’s success.”
While at the UI, Patty once again dreamed big with her study abroad experience. It was a bit of a risk for her, too. After all, she had never stepped foot on an airplane—much less traveled outside of the country before. Study abroad for one semester? No, Patty chose a full academic year. Study in an English-speaking country or the popular Western Europe region? No, Patty chose Heredia, Costa Rica, a lesser-known study abroad destination.
“I studied abroad because I had a strong desire to learn about another culture,” says Patty. “I was definitely scared at first. I didn’t know exactly how it was going to work, and I had never been on a plane before in my life. But the second I stepped off the plane and onto the ground in Costa Rica, I knew I had made the right decision. That year was by far the most valuable year in my academic career. Studying abroad taught me to expect the unexpected and to open my eyes to new experiences and ideas. The ability to look at the world through another lens is an invaluable skill.”
After graduating, Patty’s proficiency in the Spanish language and knowledge of the Central American culture helped her secure a job at Kwik-Way Products working as the international sales assistant. Patty’s career has progressed over the years in the marketing, public relations, and fundraising arenas. Recent roles include communications manager at Four Oaks Family and Children's Services and communication strategist at Marketing & Communication Strategies. Impressive roles that offered meaningful work and job security, but Patty was ready to take another risk – realizing her dream of owning her own business.
In January, she and her business partner Christa Nelson launched Epiphany, a full-service marketing and public relations firm based in Marion, Iowa. Epiphany helps companies and nonprofits with strategic planning and fundraising, brand identity, digital marketing and web design, social media, and media relations.
“Christa and I both saw a need to provide comprehensive services to our clients,” she says when talking about the value of services offered. “We often see limited budgets delegated to branding and marketing, but realize it is one of the most essential pieces to an organization’s success. We take our strengths to provide comprehensive and cost-effective approaches to our clients’ needs, helping to ignite their passions.”
Patty sees the state of Iowa as a great place to own a business and raise a family.
“Up until a few years ago, Iowa ranked last in the nation for women-owned businesses. Fortunately, today the state is making strides to encourage entrepreneurs of all genders and backgrounds,” Patty says.
She also sees the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Creative Corridor as an asset:
“There are endless networking opportunities and a spirit of innovation that is contagious. Entrepreneurs are very supportive of each other’s success.”
Patty also gives back to her community through serving in leadership roles on non-profit boards as well as providing in-kind marketing assistance to community organizations through Epiphany.
“Although I love traveling, I realized that Iowa is a great place to live, work, and raise a family,” she says, “I value the education our kids receive in Iowa. Every educator I have interacted with has a passion for helping kids thrive. I think there is a special level of pride in Iowa with regard to education and I am thankful my children are able to reap the benefits. Family is hugely important to my husband and myself and I enjoy watching our children form strong bonds with our extended family who also live in Iowa.”
Simply put, Patty says, “Iowa is home.”