Four Questions with Lauren Bennett McGinty ’10

The Gustavus alum serves as the executive director of Explore Minnesota after holding a series of nonprofit advocacy and communication roles.
Posted on April 11th, 2022 by

Lauren Bennett McGinty speaks at the 2022 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference (photo credit: Buffalo Media Group)

Lauren Bennett McGinty ’10 was named the Executive Director of Explore Minnesota Tourism in November 2021 after previously serving as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild. A communication studies major with art and history minors as a Gustavus student, she was involved in the communication studies department, Lineus Improv, and served as a collegiate fellow (residence hall adviser).

Bennett McGinty, who holds a master’s in project management from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, worked in public relations and non-profit communications before moving into a series of leadership roles focused on advocacy and engagement. She lives in Minneapolis with her partner, Ryan McGinty ‘10, and adorable pup, Jack.

As COVID-19 restrictions loosen and the weather begins to turn warmer, we asked Bennett McGinty four questions about her background and experiences.

Q: Your path after graduation has taken you from public relations to craft beer to advocacy to leading the state of Minnesota’s tourism bureau. What lessons from your time on campus have you used throughout your career, and what skills do you still call on today?

Lauren Bennett McGinty: A liberal arts education gave me the opportunity to not only try several different subjects, but see how they all relate. Having spent most of my career in nonprofits, I have had to flex my skills in multiple areas all at the same time. Whether it was communication, graphic design, stakeholder engagement, or finance, I have always felt prepared to balance multiple projects on a variety of subjects. Today, and even with additional education, I’m still constantly juggling a number of projects. At Explore Minnesota, I’m working on anything from human resource management to marketing to legislative engagement.

Lauren Bennett McGinty

Q: What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned in your role as executive director at Explore Minnesota?

LBM: Having only been in this role a short time, I know I have many lessons ahead of me. So far I’ve learned a lot about the resiliency of this industry. Having led the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild through the pandemic, I can comfortably say that our state is full of smart, innovative, and strong small business owners. What’s been so eye opening and frankly, exciting, is that state employees are no different. They are committed to their work and so many of them have impressive tenures. I have been so fortunate to step into a role where people are excited to see change and are supportive of the industry we serve. We will be in a state of recovery for at least another year, so I’ve learned that it’s not just about trying to get back to “normal,” it’s about moving forward and finding new, better paths to future success.

Q: What is your favorite place to visit in Minnesota? What Minnesota experiences or destinations do you recommend for a first-time visitor to the state?

LBM: I honestly do not have a favorite place to visit in Minnesota. Most of my state travels have brought me to places unexpectedly. Whether I was checking out a new brewery, trying to find a new hiking spot, or renting a cabin somewhere I’ve never been, I am always finding a new place to brag about to friends and family. A shameless plug for first-time visitors would be to visit to find our travel guide or any number of travel ideas.

Whether you’re here for a weekend or a week, there’s so much to do. Even if you’re just here for a day or two, we have quick and easy access to everything from parks and national landmarks to shopping and theater. The best part is that you can find activities for a date night or a family adventure. Of course, maybe one of the most obvious choices is the Mississippi River. If you’re traveling along the Mississippi you’ll likely be on the Great River Road, which is a path that extends from Minnesota to Louisiana. If you follow this road in Minnesota you’ll likely hit a good amount of unique spots along the way.

Q: If you had one piece of advice for a prospective college student, what would it be?

LBM: Don’t settle too early on what you want to do! I never knew where I would end up and I didn’t close myself off to new opportunities. I met some truly extraordinary people at Gustavus, most of whom I am still friends with today (a lot of which had a part in our wedding!). As a collegiate fellow, I was able to learn how to help lead a group of students and engage them in activities. And when I was the business manager for Lineus, I could flex some of my creative muscles while also practicing financial management. Don’t be afraid to try something out of the ordinary, you never know who you’ll meet and where it will lead. Finally, don’t shy away from the “hard” professors. Some of my favorite educators at Gustavus didn’t just give me an A, they made me work hard for it—I’m so thankful for that pressure because it made me the leader I am today.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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