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Celebrating the Women of Valleyfair

Kelsey Megard |
March 6, 2020

This International Women's Day, we want to take the time to celebrate our female leadership team! Their dedication to the park inspires us, motivates us, and makes Valleyfair one of the best places to work in Minnesota. 

Jessica Naderman - Director of Operations

Jessica began her journey in the amusement park world as a young high schooler, landing a summer job at King's Island amusement park in Ohio. There, she built the foundation of her career as a ride operator of The Beast, at the time the world's longest and fastest wooden roller coaster. 

Throughout her time at King's Island, Jessica learned many leadership skills and responsibilities at a young age. "I was fortunate that there were already strong women in leadership positions at Kings Island when I started working there and they set a great example for me," Naderman said. 

She transferred her work skills to California's Great America, where she developed the park's rides and aquatics team. Jessica now leads Valleyfair's entire operations department, including rides, security, safety, aquatics, park services, and admissions. 

"I want all the girls who start working their first job at Valleyfair to feel like they can be just as good of leaders as the men," Naderman said, "I want women to feel empowered, and at the end of the day, I just want to treat everyone equally."

Melissa Lutz - Director of Human Resources 

Melissa has worked for many organization's Human Resources departments throughout her career. She has worked with a wide variety of people, but she remembers one boss who was crazily energetic and authentic to herself, which inspired Melissa to manage the same way. 

"My boss brought her whole self to work every day. She would laugh loudly and not care if she made a bunch of noise," Melissa said, "Her personality inside and outside of work were so similar. In my past, I always had a character outside of work and a different one at work, but she inspired me to authentically myself all the time." 

"One of the things that I love about Valleyfair is that we treat everyone equally," Melissa said, "I hope that our young associates see women in all leadership positions across the park and feel empowered." 

Rachel Wingard - Account Executive, Youth Events

Rachel Wingard has always had a love for amusement parks. As a child, her family would take annual trips to Disney World, which led her to apply for their College Program. Rachel stayed in Orlando for five years, working at both Disney and Universal Studios, before moving back to Minnesota and accepting a position at Valleyfair. 

"I love working in a department that is dominated by women," Rachel said, "Just seeing all the wonderful women I work with every day is empowering."

Meg Riesenberg - Manager, Admissions & Guest Services

When Meg turned 15 years old, her mom told it was time for her to find a job, so she applied to work at Kings Island amusement park. She was hired right away to the admissions department, where she stayed for ten years before transferring to Valleyfair. Meg loves the challenge and opportunities that the amusement park industry provides every day. 

"I want to make sure that everyone on my team has a voice and knows I will listen," Meg said.

Kat Illies - Corporate Account Executive 

Kat Illies' first job was as an intern in Valleyfair's Group Sales Department. She was promoted to Group Sales Coordinator, then to Youth Events Manager, and then to Corporate Account Executive. Kat credits her success to the leadership that inspired her to succeed. 

"Pam, my director, inspires me because she holds such an important role with this company and encourages my success at Valleyfair," Kat said, "Seeing women supporting other women is so important and so empowering."

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