Meet Mak Heddens, Vice President of Operations

We sat down with travel extraordinaire and public affairs insider Mak Heddens, Strategic Elements Vice President of Operations. In her day-to-day work, Mak is responsible for identifying alternative business approaches to conduct research, fieldwork, and events for our firm’s clients. Outside of the office, you can find her traveling, planning events, and cycling. You can read our conversation below.  

What is a lesson you’ve learned while working at Strategic Elements?  

We’ve all heard of the platinum rule vs. the golden rule, but it wasn’t until I became a manager at Strategic Elements that I truly realized the importance of the platinum rule. I learned firsthand that everyone is motivated differently, learns differently, and responds to feedback differently.

What was your favorite part of living in Barcelona?  

I walked everywhere! Coming from a mid-size town in Iowa, there was so much to do and see – the architecture, cathedrals, and markets. I loved that flights to nearby countries were inexpensive (at the time), making it easy to travel around Europe on the weekends. While living there, I met some of the greatest friends and still get together with a handful of them to this day.  

What is the key to success when working in grassroots advocacy?  

Make a connection and build a relationship with each advocate. People engage in grassroots advocacy for various reasons, and it’s our job to determine what speaks to them. You will always find insightful information about an advocate through research ahead of time. Once you’re working with someone, remain determined yet flexible in achieving your goal. Finally, make sure your message is simple and relevant to the individual. 

If you could travel to any time period, which would it be & why?  

Oh! The Roaring 20’s. I would have bought hundreds of acres of land through the Homestead Act. There was so much innovation during the 20’s in automobiles, aviation, radio, and movies. Women also gained the right to vote. And who wouldn’t love dressing up like The Great Gatsby and dancing to live jazz bands?!  

Do you speak any other languages?  

Si, Español. Pero es malo porque ya no practico. I can also read Italian and speak a bit of French – all thanks to my time in Barcelona. 

Which accomplishment are you most proud of & why?  

I’ll forever be proud of all our work for American Wind Week back in 2019, now known as American Clean Power Week. Strategic Elements runs Power Up Iowa, a statewide coalition of renewable energy supporters. In 2019, Power Up Iowa sponsored a day and secured a display for the duration of the Iowa State Fair, which happened to fall on American Wind Week. We coordinated the planning to deliver a 187-foot wind turbine blade to our site, held a statewide proclamation signing ceremony with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, and had seven of the 2020 presidential candidates visit and sign the blade. The event gained loads of media attention, which led to Strategic Elements winning  three Goldie awards for our work. 

You can learn more about our 2019 event at American Wind Week here: American Wind Week 2019 

What’s your favorite comfort food?  

Meatloaf and my mother’s lasagna.  

Why is event planning your labor of love?  

I love to pull a bunch of details together to create an organized and amazing event for people. I enjoy the variety that comes with event planning: logistics, attention to detail, timeliness, negotiating with vendors, and creativity. Events usually throw quite a few curveballs, and I enjoy having to be quick on my feet and crafty to solve problems. I love seeing a space turn from a blank slate into something beautiful and enticing. I also love the sense of accomplishment when an event is over. 

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