#30Under30PHL - Anna Aagenes
1. How old are you? 26
2. What do you do? I work for State Representative Brian Sims as his Deputy Chief of Staff, which means I am responsible for overseeing his district operations, constituent services, outreach, events, and working with our Chief of Staff and District Director to address local policy concerns. As a volunteer position, I am also the Executive Director for a national nonprofit called GO! Athletes (Generation Out Athletes). GO! Athletes is the first national network dedicated supporting LGBTQ student athletes.
3. What neighborhood in Philly do you call home? I live in Midtown Village, aka the Gayborhood.
4. What is your favorite thing right now about Philly? The do-gooder energy in Philadelphia is amazing. I'm especially excited about younger generations who want to live in Philly and are drawn to the civic culture: Whether it's joining a board of a non-profit, cleaning up a neighborhood, or volunteering at a local school, it's the perfect time to be young and idealist in Philadelphia.
5. What do you consider your greatest achievement thus far? Everything I've considered a great achievement are things I've done with a team. While I may have played a major role in helping initiate a project or event, nothing was possible without all team players contributing to our success. If I had to pick one, it would be co-founding GO! Athletes - after we re-established ourselves as a 501(c)3, we are able to connect with even more young people across the country to provide support. We are one of the few groups in the LGBTQ sports world that has the wide network of athletes along with a group of dedicated and passionate volunteers.
6. If not yourself, who would you like to be? My previous dream was to be a professional track athlete, like Allison Felix or LoLo Jones. Sleep, workout, eat, be awesome, workout again, Instagram my workout, win medals, repeat.
7. Your idea of happiness. I would say it's a combination of three things: approaching life with both optimism and realism, being self-confident in your abilities and your path, and last, being connected and supporting those loved ones in your life.
8. Guiltiest pleasure? Self-help books, aka the most affordable form of talk-therapy.
9. Favorite inspirational quote? “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
10. What do you appreciate the most in your friends? I appreciate how caring, communicative, and loyal my friends are. I feel very lucky to have them in my life.
11. Favorite food in Philly? Anything at Tria.
12. Favorite drink in Philly? See previous answer.
13. Favorite song right now? “Latch” by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith or “Don't Tell” 'Em by Jeremih.
14. A book you plan on reading? Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. It comes out at the end of October.
15. A book that powerfully impacted your life? Most recently Give and Take by Adam Grant and The Quiet by Susan Cain.
16. Name one historical figure you would like to have coffee with. Maya Angelou. She defined her own complex identity and she refused to be put into other people’s categories, many of which were defined by racism and sexism. Aside from just being in her presence, I would have loved to ask her about her younger years and how, as an activist, she developed such strength, wisdom, and compassion.
17. How do you like your coffee? Some days black, some days with milk and Splenda.
18. Your main fault. I'm a bit of a perfectionist.
19. What is your most prized material possession? My phone.
20. Your biggest failure. It's hard to say the biggest failure, but I would say it was times when I let fear and/or self-doubt weakened my resolve. When I was in elementary school and in summer camp, I remember there was a decathlon-type competition held and open to all campers. It was mixed genders, so I thought to myself "why bother trying since a boy is going to win. To my surprise, a girl, similar to me in athletic ability, won the entire competition, far surpassing the marks of the male campers! One of the camp counselors, who had tried to convince me to try the contest, looked at me during the award ceremony and mouthed “that could’ve been you.”
21. What you learned from that failure? I learned that I needed to believe in myself more and always pursue the things that I loved to do. Even if I lost that competition, I shouldn't have taken myself out of the mix before trying. I also realized I should never count myself out because of my gender. Since then, I’ve continued to seek out great mentors and coaches who have been invaluable to my success. Yet, you can’t truly benefit from your mentors without first believing in yourself. If you’re not ready to hear positive things from other people, you’ll fail to challenge yourself and exceed your expectations. Women and girls need encouragement to become successful, and, most importantly, we need to tell ourselves not to fear failure.
22. What is your greatest fear? This is pretty deep, but I think, like most people, it’s the fear of being alone.
23. Where will you be in 30 years? I’ll be doing what I love, challenging myself, and learning something new each day.
24. Favorite thing to do on a Sunday? A run in Fairmount Park and brunch with friends.
25. Best date spot? Pop-up beer garden.
26. What does happiness mean to you? Happiness is doing what you love, being around people you love, and working toward becoming the best version of yourself.
27. Twitter or Instagram? Instagram.
28. Describe Philly in a Tweet. In Philly, we love our neighborhoods, sports teams, restaurants and our pride. We are both a historic and up-and-coming city #whyilovephilly
29. Who should everyone follow on Instagram? Aside from @femmeandfortune, I love these 5: @PhillyLoveNotes @VisitPhilly, @GPhilly_Gay, @Philly360 and @phillycupcakery.
30. Pats or Genos? In November, both restaurants will become part of our legislative district. As a state employee, I have to remain impartial and support both delicious establishments. I will say, however, that I highly recommend the veggie cheesesteak option at Hip City Veg.
#30Under30PHL is a month-long series highlighting Philadelphia’s most ambitious women. Created in collaboration with Femme & Fortune and Alex Kacala.