Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians (GSCSA) is proud to welcome Gretchen Crawley to the team as the new Vice President of Communications. With more than two decades of experience, Crawley will oversee the marketing and communications department beginning in September.
Crawley, a Knoxville native, graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science in Communications. After spending time as Public Relations Coordinator for the University of Tennessee and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, she managed the public relations efforts of several healthcare companies – Tennova Healthcare, Provision Healthcare, and Curae Health. Crawley is passionate about mission-driven work that enriches the community.
We recently caught up with Crawley to get to know her a bit better before she comes on board September 4. She shared her passion for nonprofit work, organizations that empower women, and—possibly the most important bit of information—what her favorite Girl Scout Cookie is!
What excites you about working for Girl Scouts?
I am really excited about everything that Girl Scouts strives to do for girls. Whether it’s appreciating the wonders of nature, teaching leadership skills or building confidence, these are vital elements that girls need today. I was really attracted to the organization for these things, but also the emphasis on reaching out to minority communities and encouraging STEM activities and entrepreneurial skills. I think there’s something inherent in all of us that wants to see good things and do good things and that is what I see in Girl Scouts. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of empowering and encouraging girls to be our next leaders, teachers, firefighters, or computer programmers? I know I do!
What are some of your goals coming into this new role?
I hope to help tell the amazing stories of Girl Scouts and make the community more aware of the opportunities available to girls all across our region. There are so many distractions and other challenges that young girls face today, but the one constant for more than a century has been Girl Scouts. I think there are lots of opportunities to share this message, whether it’s through social media; video; community outreach; or good, old fashioned networking, the stories of Girl Scouts are inspirational. Sometimes we forget to tell our own story, and this is what I’m excited about helping Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians achieve. GSCSA has an amazing group of passionate and dedicated individuals that truly want to help girls thrive and succeed. I am so excited to collaborate with this team and be a part of the mission.
You’ve worked in the nonprofit sector before, what attracts you to this field?
My first couple of jobs straight out of college were with non-profit organizations and I can truly say it was where I learned the most and had some amazing experiences. Most recently, I’ve spent the last few years in healthcare, which has allowed me to learn many valuable skills. But, my heart desired a change and I wanted to get back to my roots. I think the best part of working in the non-profit field is getting to work for an organization that is mission-driven. Being surrounded by people who care deeply about the work is motivating and inspiring. I also like that fact that there’s no shortage of work to be done in a variety of areas, so that inevitably brings the team together to roll up our collective sleeves and get the job done.
What’s your favorite industry secret learned during your career?
Don’t be afraid to embrace change! It may sound cliché, but the things you’ll learn about yourself when you get out of your comfort zone can be life-changing. I have found that going through and embracing change head-on has taught me to be more flexible, more compassionate and it has presented opportunities that I may never have experienced. Accepting change, whether it’s personally or professionally, can really help you get out of a rut and it forces you to adapt and try new and interesting ways of doing things.
Which Girl Scout Cookie is your favorite?
Honestly, I’ve never really met a cookie I didn’t like, but it’s a close tie between Tagalongs and the beloved Thin Mints.
What are you passionate about outside of your career?
My husband, Michael, and I are huge animal lovers and one of our favorite volunteer experiences was with Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah. Located in beautiful Angel Canyon, the animal sanctuary is situated on nearly 40,000 acres of land and is home to more than 1,600 rescued animals. We were fortunate enough to stay on-site in one of their volunteer cabins. Our volunteer assignment was in the dog area where we worked with several of the Michael Vick dogs that were rescued from his inhumane dog-fighting ring. We also worked with a dog named China that was rescued from the waters of Hurricane Katrina. She was our overnight guest and we took her on an outing to the Grand Canyon. It was a wonderful and educational volunteer vacation and we hope to go again soon.