#PeopleOfWilmDE: Lauren Van Hise

What’s up, Wilmington? This week’s #PeopleOfWilmDE is our very own It’s Time Wilmington lead reporter, Lauren Van Hise! When she isn’t telling you the best ways to work, live, and play in Wilmington, she’s a Content Strategist for Tapp Network. Read her story below. 

“I was born in Cream Ridge, NJ and grew up on a dairy farm. Cream Ridge is a small rural area that my family has lived in and farmed for over 100 years. In fact, my siblings and I went to the same high school as my grandfather and parents! This atmosphere paired with a dedicated and loving family really set the foundation for me to learn the importance of community, hard work, humility, and hometown pride. I am beyond lucky to have the upbringing I did.

I went to the University of Delaware for college and graduated with a degree in Health and Physical Education. I was then a middle school Health and Phys. Ed. teacher in Red Clay School District for 6 years! Around this time I realized I wanted to make some extra cash, so I applied to a serving gig at a new restaurant opening on Market Street called Chelsea Tavern. I had never been to Wilmington before and was living in Newark at the time. This was my first job in the service industry, and owner Joe Van Horn took a major gamble in bringing me under his wing and taught me everything he knew about hospitality. Ask him about the time I ordered a steak at the wrong temperature for a guest during a show night across from The Grand and was so in the weeds that I cried in an alleyway (haha! We’ve all been there) This opened up a whole new world to me and I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunities and wonderful people I’ve met in hospitality.

Lauren behind the bar during It’s Time Wilmington’s guest bartending event at Blitzen, 2021

I decided to leave teaching and pursue digital marketing, so after moving to Philadelphia for a year I came back to Wilmington to take classes at the Delaware College of Art and Design. The affordability of the city is why I moved back from Philadelphia. I am now working my dream job in digital marketing at Tapp Network, the digital marketing agency responsible for running the It’s Time campaign, which showcases how Wilmingtonians work, live, and play! I also sit on the board for local non-profit Motorcycle Santa, where we raise money and toys for Ronald McDonald House and other communities in need across Delaware.

I know this isn’t a traditional answer, but my favorite attraction in Wilmington is our parks and rec options! Hiking in Alapocas and along the Brandywine or getting my bike out on the JAM trail/Riverfront bring me so much joy. I love that I can live in a city but still get my mini fix of the outdoors when I can’t get away on a major hiking trip.

My ideal itinerary for a weekend in Wilmington goes like this: 

Friday night:

Saturday:

Sunday:

Wilmington has been invaluable as I’ve pivoted through 3 different careers in the past 12 years. It’s a city of connectors and collaborators who are eager to lift each other up, and this made my career transitions easier than I suspect they would be in other cities.

As a teacher, I felt supported by my colleagues, especially when I was making the difficult decision to leave the profession. I still stay in touch with many of them and love our state’s educators.

I then became a full time bartender at Trolley Square Oyster House as I went back to school at DCAD, and used the support and connections I had in the city and Delaware to network and find my current home at Tapp Network.

When I began working on the It’s Time campaign through Tapp in 2020, I found an additional support system from those that are passionate about seeing the city of Wilmington thrive. Throughout my time in Delaware, no matter what stage I’ve been in, I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of those around me.

Lauren dressed as Queen Elsa during the annual Motorcycle Santa ride through Wilmington!

Giving back to a city that has given me so much gives me pride. I am beyond proud to be involved in initiatives that I truly believe are making a change in our city. The It’s Time campaign has shown the personality of our residents and supported 500+ small businesses and events since 2020. Sitting on the board for Motorcycle Santa brings me pride because our funds pay for rooms for families to stay in who have a child receiving medical care from nearby Nemours Children’s Hospital. Our annual toy drive is statewide and is donated to children with medical conditions and underserved communities in the city of Wilmington including Ascending Queens and Reed’s Refuge.

I continue to choose Wilmington because of the small town feel that reminds me of where I grew up. The city is truly a collaborative of diverse and interesting people that bleeds into our small businesses, arts, infrastructure, and culture. Being in a smaller city also allows you access to the decision makers and influencers that help you be a part of major change.

I also appreciate the affordability of living in the city, and how it lends itself as the perfect homebase for those that love to travel with its connections to local train stations, mainstream 95, and local airport options.

I love that the city is growing and expanding despite setbacks from Covid. New businesses, hotels, massive press coverage, major headlining musicians and productions all show that we are moving forward in the right direction. I would love to see our city begin to connect all of the different neighborhoods so it becomes more walkable/easy to navigate. We are growing rapidly but it’s still tough to bounce around the city during a night out. With this being said, I also hope our city stays cognizant of the impact that growth has on our at promise communities and gives them the resources/policies they need to continue to live in the city and grow with it, instead of becoming displaced. Everyone deserves access to what Wilmington has to offer.

My advice to Wilmingtonians? Take advantage of the small town/big city vibe that Wilmington gives off! Strike up a conversation with a stranger, you never know who they are and what they’re working on and how you may be able to collaborate. I’ve met plenty of unsuspecting individuals across the bar, coffee shop, and gym. By the same token, connect people you know to other individuals when you can.

Also, support the efforts that are being made by our community leaders, organizations, and small businesses; the only way our city can continue to grow and reach its potential is for its residents to support what is going on RIGHT NOW and make current efforts a success so they can continue to expand.”

You can connect with Lauren on LinkedIn and Instagram, and follow Tapp Network and Motorcycle Santa on Instagram. 

To nominate next week’s #PeopleOfWilmDE, email us at info@wilmtoday.com. Read more #PeopleOfWilmDE posts here. Follow us on InstagramFacebookTwitterYouTube, and TikTok.

Get in touch!

Share your email to receive monthly updates on all the best stuff in Wilmington! You know you wanna.