As the leaves change for the season, so too has the level of impact that Marcia Ratliff is making in the Winona community. 
Ratliff, a ‘14 Winona State University alum, left her full-time job month ago as a Youth Services Associate at the Winona Public Library where she created programming for children to become the Executive Director of Engage Winona.  
At Engage Winona, Ratliff is still creating programming, but is doing it on a much larger scale in a way that engages the entire Winona-area community 
Engage Winona is a renowned organization in the area that strives to build an inclusive community that feels like home for all. Some areas the non-profit focuses on are community engagement, network building, resourcing and supporting diverse changemakers, and creating a new culture.  
After the first month on the job, Ratliff said it has been a bit of chaos, a lot of fun, and at a rate of a “hundred miles an hour.”  
Some of these skills she acquired during her time at Winona State.

Ratliff graduated in 2014 double majoring in English Writing and English Literature with a Spanish minor.  

Her time at WSU immensely aided in preparing her for the new role she has taken on.

“College is such a formative time in someone’s life,” Ratliff said.  
Not only did her classes give her the skill-set for the position, but so too did the extracurriculars she participated in during her four years at WSU.   
“I’m learning a lot about nonprofit organization management,” she said. “I have a lot of the skills that transfer but it’s just trusting those skills.” Marcia Ratliff 

Ratliff was a writer and editor for WSU’s student newspaper, The Winonan, and became the Editor in Chief her senior year. The experience of being in a leadership role gifted her with the tools to guide groups and facilitate changewhich supported her work at Engage Winona.  
Dr. Amy Hermodson, a Communications Studies Professor at WSU as well as a board member at Engage Winonasaid experiences such Ratliff’s prepare students for the real world.  

“It’s really important that whatever major you’re in, you provide opportunities for students to have hands on work.” 

 The university offers dozens of student employment opportunities every semester, in addition to internships and hands-on engaged learning experiences included within course work.  
Her experience at Winona State is not the only thing that prepared Ratliff for Executive Director. 
After graduationRatliff worked at the Winona Daily News where she explored Winona’s culture and community atmosphere at a deeper level by reporting on health and wellness within the city. 
She also traveled to South Africa later in her career where she worked in English Education for the Peace Corps. The experience pushed her outside of her bubble by building relationships with people from different cultures anbackgrounds. 
Community work depends on trust, and through Ratliff’s involvement she gained experience in relationship building and cross-cultural communication.  
Ratliff has big plans for the future of Engage Winona. Her current focus is the Lived Experience Leaders program, which strives to deepen and diversify Winona’s pool of community leaders by providing participants with resources and training to step into a leadership role and support others with similar experiences. She is working to ensure the success of this program for years to come.  
Another goal for her time at Engage Winona is to bring her creative side into her work. Ratliff, who is a local poet and previously received a Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council grant, hopes to find opportunities to bring art into Engage Winona’s work.  
It’s my hope that in this position I can bring people together and create a future Winona community that is more inclusive, creative and rooted in stories and things we have in common, Ratliff said.