With every great person, there’s a great story. Learn more about Andrew Szymanski and the Montgomery Dragonboat Races here! Andrew grew up in the small Northeastern town of Topsfield, Massachusetts. After high school, he moved south to Athens, GA to attend the University of Georgia, where he received a degree in Communications. Upon graduation, he decided to pursue his interest in nonprofits by serving in the AmeriCorps VISTA program, placing him in Montgomery, AL. Andrew served as program director for Bridge Builders Alabama, an organization that develops leadership skills and civic engagement practices in high school students. During his year of service, he quickly realized that the biggest impediment to nonprofits doing great work was access to funding and the development of strategic partnerships with local businesses and government entities.
Andrew’s introduction to dragon boating came early in 2010, through a conversation with non-profit acquaintances who had heard of an event in Chattanooga. It was new and exciting, and he determined it would be a unique fundraising tool for local Montgomery nonprofit agencies. The Montgomery Dragon Boat Festival was incorporated in 2010 and since then Andrew has served as its Executive Director. From its inaugural year, it has grown to be one of Montgomery’s largest events with an annual attendance of over 10,000 people and participation of 60-70 teams. Over the past 8 years he has overseen the distribution of over $250,000 in grant money to his organization’s beneficiaries.
In 2012 Andrew joined the Southeast Regional Dragon Boat Association as a state representative for Alabama. Two years later he was elected President and began to expand the reach of the sport in the Southern US. He also had the opportunity to serve on the United States Dragon Boat Federation Board of Directors for 3 years and in 2017 was elected President of the USDBF. The USDBF is the governing body for competitive dragon boating in the United States and in October of 2017 he took 240 Team USA athletes to the Dragon Boat World Championships in Kunming, China. The United States finished 3rd in the Nations Cup in 2017 and they are excited about bringing an even stronger team to the next World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand in 2019.
Andrew is the owner of two amazing dogs, Mr. Smudge and Miss Maple. He loves visiting his parent’s vacation home on Mount Desert Island off the Northern Coast of Maine and eating as much seafood he possibly can each fall. In 2017 Andrew bought his first home in the historic Cloverdale Idlewild neighborhood and looks forward too many more years in Alabama’s capital city.
To register for the Dragon Boat race, follow this link: https://montgomerydragonboat.org/