Marianne has been a part of Travois from the very beginning. She was the director of the Ramsey County Library in suburban St. Paul, Minn., when David Bland, her spouse, decided to leave the Federal Reserve Bank and start Travois back in 1995. Once David grew the company enough to add an employee, Marianne joined in 1999 and is now vice chairman.
1. What do you do at Travois?
After doing a little bit of everything over the years, I’m mostly focused on strategic planning, personnel development, finance and keeping the company focused on our mission, vision and values.
2. What education do you have?
I have a Bachelor of Arts in history and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
3. What attracted you to Travois?
Learning about Indian Country has been the most rewarding part of this enterprise.
4. How do your past experiences help you in your current position?
A library director’s focus is on politics, understanding what your community wants, competing for resources, and getting your programs funded. This was unexpectedly helpful since much of our time at Travois is devoted to learning about the needs of our tribal clients and figuring out ways to get more resources for Indian Country.
5. What places in Indian Country have you enjoyed visiting?
It has always been a treat traveling to visit our tribal clients in Washington to Montana across the Dakotas to Minnesota and Wisconsin down to Arizona and New Mexico. I love driving out of the cities and exploring the most spectacular landscapes in the country.
6. What is one of your favorite client projects?
I love the Red Lake projects because Jane Barrett and Linda McGraw-Adams were early adopters of housing tax credits; they were willing to take a chance when David proposed their first project back in the 1990s and, eleven projects later, they have grown to become good friends and colleagues.
7. What did you want to be as a kid?
A politician! Thank goodness I didn’t pursue that goal.
8. Do you have a hidden talent?
I am learning how to play the piano, a goal I last pursued in the third grade. It’s so much fun to work an entirely different part of my brain.
9. Many Travois staff members are animal lovers. Do you have a pet?
Our dearly departed Labrador retriever, Parker, was our last dog. We get our pet fix at the office and by babysitting Deacon and Stout when their parents are traveling.
10. What is your favorite meal? What is your favorite local restaurant?
I love the kale and radish salad at The Mixx called the Chisaya Mama. Delicious!
11. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could take one item with you, what would it be?
A Jane Austen novel. She is the perfect combination of political and social critique, biting satire and romantic resolution.
12. What talent do you wish you had?
I would love to be able to sing. Since I definitely cannot sing, I just play music very loud and yell along with it.
13. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
I love going out to eat and to see movies, playing with our grandchildren, hiking, reading, and cooking big meals for friends and family.
14. What do you like about Kansas City?
As an Army brat, I spent most of my life on the East Coast and the West Coast. I had no idea there was such a cool middle of the country. When we moved here several years ago we were really taken by the friendly people, vibrant arts and culture scene and great restaurants. We love going to Kansas City Symphony concerts. We love the easy commute to work and our Brookside community where we walk everywhere we want to go.
15.What kind of music do you like? Or what is your favorite band?
16. What is your favorite TV show of all time? Favorite movie?
My favorite TV show is probably the original “The Jetsons” from the 1960s, although I also love “Mad Men” because it gives you a whole other glimpse of that era. My favorite movie is “Lone Star,” a great little mystery by John Sayles made back in 1996 that is surprising and clever.
17. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
It’s been a privilege to be a part of this company and to be welcomed into so many tribal communities. Our clients are working hard to make a difference for their people, and we’re grateful to be partners in their achievements.