By Kevin Greer, Lakeside Communications Manager

Theresa Barger grew up about an hour away in Tiffin, but her road to Lakeside was unexpected.

Barger worked at Heidelberg University’s Events Department all four years of school. A friend who interned with Lakeside’s Conference & Events Department suggested Barger take a seasonal job during the summer of 2018, which was her first summer visiting Lakeside. After graduating, she accepted a position to return Lakeside in a fulltime events role the following year.

“I majored in communications at Heidelberg,” Barger said. “So, it’s not the route I thought I would take, but it’s been a good experience.”

In April 2021, Barger transitioned from her position as Lakeside’s Event Coordinator to the Human Resources Administrative Assistant. A few weeks later, the Events Manager resigned, and Barger moved back to take over the role.

When the Executive Assistant position needed filled later in 2021, Barger jumped at the opportunity. She said her time working with Lakeside’s COO Charles Allen was a rewarding experience.

“In that role, I felt the most comfortable and confident in structure that I ever had, and that was due to Charles’ leadership,” Barger said. “He’s the best supervisor I’ve had.”

This past summer, the Manager of Conference & Events position reopened, and Barger thought the time was right to lend her expertise in events. She knew it wouldn’t be easy to take over in the middle of the busy summer season, but she already had the experience and was ready for the challenge.

“After more experience working with leaders, I saw an opportunity to create a more positive environment for staff and customers that aligned with my overall goals in my career,” Barger said. “I had more confidence than I did when I was previously in Events. My dream job has always been to help people, and now I feel like I get to do that every day.”

While the transition was difficult taking over in July, she credits her team for taking off some of the stress. The staff included Morgan Witt, seasonal employees Evan Collins and Evan Lacivita, and interns Tyler Greer, Kaila Gallagher and Jacob Schetter.

“The team made the transition easier,” said Barger. “Without their support and understanding, it would have felt impossible. But together we were able to conquer it all.”

The main focus of the Events Team consists of working with external groups, guests and internal departments to ensure their events are executed to their expectation. Many external events include retreats, weddings, camps, reunions, baby and bridal showers and more. Each event has many details to work out, including setup, venue selection, event time frames, pricing, catering needs, linen rentals, gate passes, housing and any other special requests.

The 2022 season isn’t that far in the rear-view mirror, but Barger is already looking forward to Lakeside’s Sesquicentennial Celebration next summer. Being organized and drawing large crowds are her top priorities.

“I’d like to expand Lakeside’s reach to new groups and make sure we have the right structure and processes in place to provide quality experiences and customer service,” she said.

While Lakeside may not have been on her radar while in college, Barger is glad she took her friend’s advice to work here a couple summers ago.

“There are so many fun things to do at Lakeside,” Barger said. “I get to work with some great people. I would say each day is different, and that’s why it’s so exciting.”