When those in leadership leave an organization or their community, there is often a feeling of uncertainty as to what lies ahead. But when strong leaders leave an organization, they leave behind a legacy that guides and sustains the momentum.
Such is the case with Andrea Culletto.
Culletto has been Twin Transit’s community relations director since 2019. Over the course of the last three years, Culletto has served as a true public servant of Lewis County. Her love for our community, her hope for our future and her ambition for change have truly made a difference in the lives of so many — many who might never know her name or the work she has done on their behalf. With her husband recently accepting an overseas assignment, Culletto and her family will be moving in a few weeks, leaving a hole in our community and in the roles in which she has so intentionally served.
When I think of Culletto’s influence in Lewis County, a quote by Fred Rogers comes to mind; “There are three ways to ultimate success: the first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”
I have had the chance to work alongside Culletto for the last two and a half years and I have learned a great deal by following her example of speaking life and encouragement into the lives of others. She has demonstrated what it takes to be a cheerleader for all, to come alongside to support and to uplift others to realize their potential and their purpose in our community and beyond. Her character is second to none, and her zest for life and community service have greatly inspired and encouraged me.
You might not know her name, but my guess is that you have benefitted from the work she has done. To name a few projects, Culletto has supported the Centralia Foundation in their education initiatives, offered support to Lewis County schools while navigating distance learning, has promoted In-Tot Developmental services, has worked to expand high-speed internet access for students in Lewis County, has served on numerous community boards, and the list goes on.
When asked about the work Culletto has done alongside the Lewis County Public Health and Social Services Department, Director JP Anderson shared, “Andrea Culletto is one of those people that sees every project as a chance to change the world. Her enthusiasm and dedication is infectious. Be it senior meal delivery, connecting our most vulnerable residents with vaccinations, overcoming transportation barriers countywide; she really is a maverick when it comes to program development.”
Anderson went on to share, “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Andrea started and led a coalition of local service providers and community organizations that formed the nucleus of much of the response in the community. I am sorry to see her go but feel better knowing she is somewhere in the world doing what she does.”
During her time at Twin Transit, Culletto has been involved in many projects that have gone above and beyond her position of community relations director. She has been a friend to our community, finding ways to support the work of community groups and organizations.
Debbie Campbell, the most recent executive director at United Way of Lewis County, fondly shared, “I am so grateful to have gotten the chance to work alongside Andrea through the United Way of Lewis County board of directors. Her enthusiasm, motivation, passion and support have been so inspirational to me. She truly made my day brighter any time I worked with her.”
Director of Development for the United Way of Lewis County Angela French echoed Campbell’s sentiments by sharing, “From the moment I met Andrea, I knew by her infectious energy and compassion for helping others that she would have an incredible impact on our community. We have been so grateful for her leadership and expertise on our United Way board of directors over the past three years. From diving into important committee work to always lending a hand where needed with a sweet smile on her face, Andrea is someone who I will always be grateful to call a friend and colleague. She will be deeply missed by so many in our community!”
Culletto’s greatest gift to our community may be the inspiration she has provide, in demonstrating an attitude of humility through her work, work often done behind the scenes. Joe Clark, executive director of Twin Transit, remarked that Culletto’s strongest contribution to her team has always been “her belief that what we are doing, others could do. As we have had success in our various endeavors, Andrea ensured that others had that same success.”
Clark stated that Culletto “has made herself available to many, by offering her support and skillset to bring life to others’ ideas and projects. She has brought a light into our community that will provide direction in a way that will move us forward for many, many years.”
When asked what Clark felt represented the best of Culletto’s work, he remarked: “Her best work was displayed through her leadership in starting the Lewis County Community Services Coalition. That group of community service providers was the precursor for meal delivery to seniors at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination clinics and more. Her leadership brought together a group who committed to help the most vulnerable populations in our community during their time of need.”
Rebecca Staebler, former Centralia city councilor, a prior Twin Transit board member and dear friend of Culletto, remarked, “Andrea has had such a huge impact on our community, and in so many ways. It was always a delight to work with her on Twin Transit activities, as well as other downtown projects. Her knowledge, enthusiasm and ability to inspire involvement will be sorry missed.”
Culletto has been influential in the expansion of Twin Transit’s Dial-a-Ride (DARTT) service in Lewis County, with a sincere passion for improving accessible transportation throughout Lewis County. Culletto recently shared with her colleagues this sentiment: “It may seem simple, but transportation is everything. It’s independence. It’s health and recovery. It’s access to an education and employment. It’s connection and possibility. Our community has many wonderful resources, programs, and opportunities — but our friends and neighbors cannot benefit from them if there’s no way to get there. “
Dr. Richard Stride, CEO of Cascade Community Healthcare, shared that, “Andrea has been an amazing partner. She has a real heart for those who are struggling with behavioral health issues. My work with her on the United Way board has been very rewarding in that she became the leader for our EDI group. She always had a positive word for people, and I never heard a harsh comment about anyone.”
Mindy Greenwood, director of substance use and supportive employment services at Cascade Health, shared that Culletto “has always come from a place of being open minded when it comes to what will work best for our community. When I approached her about our clients that access substance use treatment, she did not roll her eyes at me; she was all about having the discussion and seeing what we can do.”
Greenwood continued to share that “her and I come from the same place of it maybe a crazy idea, but let’s bat it around and see if it works. I will miss having a partner in the community that does that with me. She is a joy and has the biggest heart for this community. I do not believe the average person understands how a bus system can be that important, outside of getting people from A to B. Andrea understands that it is more than that. It is a way for that person to have a job, see family, get to medical appointments, or a day out for leisure. She understands the sense of hope that the bus system gives to our community.”
Culletto spearheaded many projects that have most likely gone unnoticed by many. Her attention for the seemingly small things has given a sense of care and consideration to the mundane. Be it the beautification of Twin Transit property with flower baskets, creating and sustaining the “Books on the Bus” program, putting in late nights to make a grant deadline, or knowing how to brighten her colleague’s day with dessert from a local shop — her example of finding avenues for the beautiful have truly made a difference.
A light in Lewis County and a trailblazer for innovation, leadership, and service — our community is a better place because of our friend Andrea Culletto.