It was unintentional, but nonetheless notable, that we spoke with Andrea Canning on International Women’s Day – March 8, 2017.
It didn’t take long to discover that Canning is a positive, energetic, thoughtful woman who loves being a mom.
By day Canning is a correspondent for “Dateline NBC,” which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and contributes to all NBC News platforms. Canning reports on major crime stories, high profile trials and breaking news that has included the Boston Marathon bombing, Hurricane Sandy and the terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Since arriving at Dateline, Canning has also reported hour-long documentaries on campus sexual assault and adoption fraud.
You can even catch her on You Tube demonstrating how to free yourself if you are in a situation where your hands are in front of you bound with duct tape. Canning, ever sensible and forthright, demonstrates a former CIA agent’s tip – bring your arms above your head and quickly bring them down to your waist, which breaks the otherwise sturdy tape.
Canning loves the variety of assignments she handles. “Every day is different, that’s one of the things I love about it,” says Canning. Once a competitive skier, Canning grew up near Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. Her maternal grandparents Jozo and Helen Weider founded Blue Mountain, a skiing and golf resort, where Canning was raised and which, until just two years ago, was operated by Canning’s dad.
“My dad always talked to me about current events and I was always interested in history,” says Canning. Significant when you look at the job she has now. “I always dreamed of working at a television network in New York City,” she says.
When asked what it takes to succeed in a high profile media job, Canning doesn’t hesitate. “Hard work and never giving up,” she says. Canning explains that she has learned to bounce back quickly. “It’s not that I don’t ever get down or hurt – it’s that I bounce right back,” she says. Perhaps something she honed on the ski slopes?
“Plus, I was very lucky to have people who believed in me. People who said along the way, ‘You can do this and I will help you,’” says Canning. “I can count those people on my hands, they changed my life.” Finding those people in your career is vital says Canning.
As for adding “family” to her resume, Canning says she was lucky. “I was at the network for many years before I started my family at 35 years old, so it didn’t affect my career. Dateline has been extremely accommodating, it’s a great place to work for mothers – they really get it,” she says. And she’s hopeful for other mothers who want to, or must, work outside the home as, “businesses are waking up and realizing that women can make great contributions.”
Canning’s career required considerable travel. Just when she thought she’d never meet “the one” a friend introduced her to Tony Bancroft, a former F-18 fighter pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps. Bancroft now works as a financial analyst for Mario Gabelli. “We will be forever grateful to Mario as he literally took my husband under his wing when he moved to the private sector. He was 30 years old and starting a new career. He had a lot of doors slammed in his face,” says Canning. “We need more people to do what Mario did for all our veterans.” Bancroft now also serves as a Lt. Col. in the Marine Corps Reserves.
Fast forward to the birth of five daughters within six years. How did she do it?
“Obviously I was lucky, my pregnancies were easy and I had no complications,” says Canning, who worked right up until the end of each pregnancy. “Once it was three weeks before my due date and I travelled for a four-hour interview, that was pushing it. I usually try to stay local a month before the due date.”
The original plan was for three maybe four children. “And then here we are with five. I think our family is complete,” she says.
“Age catches up with you, I’m 44.” The family consists of Anna, age 8; Charlotte “Charlie” age 7; Christina “Kiki” age 4; Georgia, age 3; and Elle age 2.
“Basically our motto is – roll with it … and we do pretty well. My working is nothing new for the kids,” says Canning.
Canning likes to get the kids ready for school in the morning – dressed and teeth brushed. Their nanny comes at 8 a.m. and she takes Metro North into New York City in time for the Dateline morning meeting. “I do what I need to do in the office and by the afternoon I can usually head home, so I am there for homework at night,” she says. “Picking my kids up from school is special, when I get to do it I savor it.”
Canning tries to be the most hands-on mom she can be. “Every minute I have free I am with them,” she says. “I work really hard but I get to leave the office early so I can get home to them.”
Even though she thinks she has it all, it is not always easy. “I do miss the occasional parent-teacher conference, but I try very hard not to beat myself up about it,” she says. Canning says if she isn’t able to go her husband is always there, since his office is in Rye.
“I think moms judge themselves and get judged more,” says Canning. “If a dad was at work and couldn’t make a school meeting it is looked at differently.”
In the end Canning says she knows what is important. “Make quality time with your kids and be present with them – not on your phone,” she says.
The family lived in a New York City apartment until they had three children and room was getting tight.
“We moved to Rye because the schools here are amazing and the commute for me is also good,” she says. “In the beginning I struggled with the commute – I didn’t like it, but now it’s fine. Actually, I get a lot of work done on the train.”
Canning says Rye has everything you could want for kids and it’s a real community. “We actually know our neighbors – it’s literally ‘Can I borrow a cup of sugar?’ just like you see on TV,” Canning says. “In New York City we didn’t know our neighbors.”
They live right near the Rye Golf Course and Canning’s husband is a golf fan. “He’s getting the girls into golf and other sports too – soccer, baseball. It’s a lot of fun for them,” she says.
This year in school the kids had to dress up to show what they wanted to be when they grow up. “Anna, my 8-year-old dressed up as a reporter – she had a microphone and a notepad,” Canning says. “My 7-year-old, Charlie, was an author.”
Whether you are working inside or outside the home Canning thinks it’s important you pursue your passion, something you can do while you are also being a mom.
“I write screenplays for a hobby,” Canning tells us, “I just love ‘Lifetime’ movies and murder mysteries and writing screenplays is a great complement to my day job.” Note, Canning has already received positive feedback from professionals that have read her scripts.
Canning advises moms to think about what would fit into their lives – it can be anything, a part-time situation, volunteering or a creative pursuit.
As a woman, Canning has dreams for her daughters. “My wish for them is to be confident, strong and anything they want to be,” she says. Canning says her husband serves as a real role model for them when it comes to confidence because he makes them feel comfortable with who they are.
“When I was younger I was shy and always thought I wasn’t pretty enough, but I learned that it’s not worth worrying what other people think,” explains Canning. “You have to be your own person.”
Canning says at Dateline they try to find the silver lining in a story. Some stories offer more hope than others. “There is one story that changed my life – covering the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting,” says Canning. “What I saw was enough to give you nightmares. Every day when I head out to work I say goodbye to my children and appreciate it when we are together again at the end of the day.”
Canning’s mother, we are sad to say, passed away before Canning had her children. Lately, Mother’s Day often means brunch at the Rye Golf Club. According to Canning, every mom needs to feel appreciated. Moms do so much. “Just try dealing with clothing five kids!” she adds with a laugh.
Overall Canning feels good where she is now. “I feel so lucky to be a mom,” she muses. “And I still love to hear, ‘Andrea we have a story for you’ … it’s like unwrapping a new present.”
Jean Sheff is editor of Westchester Family.
©2017 Community News Group