by Casey Ek
When Julia McColley moved into the West 7th area with her husband Grant five years ago, she knew it wouldn’t be long before she got involved with the community’s goings on.
A post on Facebook about the Fort Road Federation was all it took to get her gears turning, and the next thing she knew she was attending a Zoom meeting the organization was hosting.
Now, after working for the Federation in various capacities—first as an area coordinator, then as the Outreach Committee chair and most recently as the communications and outreach coordinator—McColley finds herself at the helm of the operation as she steps into the Federation’s executive director role. After serving in the role part-time since November, McColley took on the role in earnest March 6, succeeding the outgoing Mary Cutrufello.
McColley grew up in Vadnais Heights before earning her degree in finance from Metropolitan State. She worked for her local YMCA as a manager of the aquatics division before moving on to managing a local childcare operation and eventually landing in the field of human resources. She and her husband purchased their home off Shepard Road and Otto Avenue in 2021where they live with their 7-month-old son Duncan.
McColley said the last three years with the Federation have been a boon as she steps into the top spot.
“It definitely helps to have familiarity with the board members already. I have a relationship with them,” McColley said.
McColley’s tenure at the Federation will kick off with a bang as the organization is preparing for their annual meeting, slated for April 25 at Summit Brewing Company, 910 Montreal Cir., from 6-8:30 p.m. Additionally, this year marks the Federation’s 50th year. The theme for the meeting is Looking back, Moving Forward: 50 years of the Fort Road Federation. To that end, McColley is ready to celebrate the organization’s history, but is eager to forge partnerships with local organizations to ensure the Federation’s success in the future. Hearing all voices from the community, McColley said, will be the crux of that future success.
“There’s people who have thoughts, and feelings, and they want to get involved(with local civics), but they don’t know where they fit in the system. That’s what we’re here for. We’re looking to develop some close partnerships more strategically over the next couple of years. That’s not something that happens overnight,” McColley said.
What to expect at the annual meeting
Neighbors will have a chance to make their voices heard at the annual meeting, where the Federation will present a draft of and solicit input on their district plan, a guiding document that helps shape the organization’s mission.
Additionally, community members wishing to play an active role in the Federation can run for one of nine seats up for election. Those seats include: president; vice president; secretary, treasurer; area I coordinator (renter); area I coordinator; area II coordinator; area III coordinator (renter) and area III coordinator. Candidates were to have filled out questionnaires by March 31.
Director of community initiatives with Mayor Melvin Carter’s office, Noel Nix, will be a guest speaker.
“There’s also an opportunity to connect with neighbors you haven’t met before,” McColley said.
The Federation will also announce the winner of their T-shirt competition at the annual meeting.