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Tanya Dreesen joins Bears as SVP of strategy and global affairs, chief of staff

The Bears on Friday hired Tanya Dreesen to serve as the club's senior vice president of strategy and global affairs, chief of staff. Dreesen, who spent the last 15 years with the Minnesota Vikings, is eager to bring her vast sports partnership and marketing experience as well as admiration of Chicago to the club.

Story by Gabby Hajduk

Born and raised in Toronto, Tanya Dreesen didn't watch much football during her childhood. Her love of hockey and the Toronto Maple Leafs was a way of life.

It wasn't until Dreesen took a job with the Minnesota Vikings 15 years ago that she immersed herself in America's most popular sport. Dreesen was hooked and decided she would dedicate the remainder of her career to the game.

When she considered joining the Bears, Dreesen discovered the football bug had been near her since she was young. While on the phone with her sister, they remembered their late father was a fan of one NFL team growing up. It was, of course, the Bears.

"I was talking to my sister this week and we were giggling about it because that's cool that now I'm going to finish my career out at the Bears," Dreesen said. "Knowing that that was my dad's team we're like, 'oh my God, yeah, that's a goosebumps kind of thing.' Meant to be!"

As the Bears senior vice president of strategy and global affairs, Dreesen will work alongside President & CEO Kevin Warren and the Chicago Bears executive leadership team to positively impact the strategic direction of the organization and a new stadium while navigating complex global landscapes and ensuring alignment between executive vision and operational objectives. Her expertise in global affairs will be invaluable in maximizing the team's international commercial business and enhancing its global footprint. She will also serve as chief of staff alongside Corey Ruff, who was promoted earlier this week.

Dreesen and Warren will work side by side for the second time in their careers after spending 10 years together at the Vikings. Dreesen got her start with the club in 2009 as a corporate sales manager, worked her way to manager of new stadium partnerships then became vice president of partnership activation, events and special projects — a title she held for over eight years in Minnesota.

"We are excited and energized to have Tanya become a member of the Chicago Bears family," Warren said. "I worked hand in hand with Tanya for over a decade during our time together at the Minnesota Vikings. Tanya's exceptional work ethic, wisdom and visionary leadership, combined with her deep understanding of global affairs and strategic vision, will positively impact the Chicago Bears. Tanya also brings a wealth of knowledge regarding implementing a practical and impactful strategic vision along with a powerful scorecard from a stadium development perspective. Her experience developed during the design, construction and operation of both U.S. Bank Stadium and TCO Performance Center, will be instrumental in driving our franchise forward. I am grateful to our chairman George H. McCaskey and the entire McCaskey family for providing me with a platform to hire Tanya for this critically important role that will positively impact the Chicago Bears franchise."

"What I love about Chicago is just that swagger and that grit. You absolutely want to spend more time in that city. I love the power of sports in Chicago and how Chicago fans rally around their teams and stick with their teams." Tanya Dreesen

Dreesen provided support on critical team initiatives at the Vikings like the International Series games in London, Minneapolis' successful 2018 Super Bowl LII bid, the new 200-acre practice facility design and construction. Her largest feat while in Minnesota was playing an integral role in the building of U.S. Bank Stadium.

"Once you build a stadium, you understand how a stadium can change the center of gravity of a city," Dreesen said, "It can elevate a city, it can bring employment, it can create a new platform to tell a city's story. That is something, if you can do it once in your career, you're pretty lucky. The fact that I'm going to have a second chance to do this, I just feel so blessed that I'm going to have an opportunity to learn and listen and take what the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois want to do with a world-class stadium. Being able to take that and then put it into the walls and be able to tell the story, which is what I believe a purpose of a stadium should be, is a pretty special opportunity."

While Dreesen has never resided in Chicago, her connection to the city dates back to when she often made the 6-hour trip down from Toronto with her family or her girlfriends. Dreesen is excited to share her appreciation and passion for Chicago with her husband of 22 years, Brian, daughter, Libby, and son, Roman.

"I think because of Chicago's location on the Great Lakes like Toronto, it has a lot of similar feels," Dreesen said. "But what I love about Chicago is just that swagger and that grit. You absolutely want to spend more time in that city. I love the power of sports in Chicago and how Chicago fans rally around their teams and stick with their teams. Not all markets can boast that, but Chicago can."

Dreesen's career experience expands beyond the NFL as she previously worked in leadership and management marketing roles for several newspapers including the Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News.

While Dreesen fell in love with the power of a home team when working in the newspaper industry, being with a team enhanced that passion.

When the Bears played the Vikings in Minnesota on Nov. 27, Dreesen and others had the opportunity to meet the Bears leadership team and McCaskey family while giving them a tour of U.S. Bank Stadium. After reading and hearing about the Bears values and mission for the club, along with Warren's, Dreesen knew Chicago was the place for her to be.

"If you look at the Bears' values — they value the most important things of integrity, respect and human excellence," Dreesen said. "And if I think about where my values are, we're perfectly aligned. As an athlete, I grew up as a rower, and the aspect of team is something that is ingrained in us. In order to honor the team, you have to have that respect and integrity in your personal brand.

"It lines up perfectly together and 30 years into my career now, this is going to be the exclamation point on my career, and for my family and me — that's something we're really excited about."

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