Celebrating Judy Cranston

Leader – Mentor – Friend

With heavy hearts we say farewell to our fearless leader, Judy Cranston. She joined us in 2009 as our COO and helped navigate our merger from several councils around our nine counties to the organization we are today, Girl Scouts of Western New York.

For the last three years she’s been our CEO and continued to lead by example and push us to further success. Her passion for our mission was displayed by the way she led every day.

During her farewell celebration, there was hardly a dry eye in the house as staff members shared stories of the impact she had on their lives. She wasn’t an unavailable CEO; she gained our respect by relating to us and most importantly, caring about us.

Leader, mentor, and friend are three of the best words to describe Judy, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t more. Pulling from the Girl Scout Promise and Law, you see how she’s friendly and helpful; considerate and caring; courageous and strong; responsible for what she says and does; respects herself and others; and is a sister to every Girl Scout.

Staff submitted words like encouraging, inspirational, supportive, kind, leader, welcoming, inclusive, thoughtful, wise, hilarious, and fun-loving. When you think about a person who embodies all those characteristics, it’s easy to understand while she’ll be so missed.

Fortunately, we can comfort ourselves knowing we’re still in wonderful hands.

Alison Wilcox has served as our COO for three years and will now become our CEO. With 17 years of global experience in organization leadership and experience with Girl Scouts both at the national and local levels, Alison has channeled her passion for championing women and girls into a successful career. We’re thankful to have Alison, an alumna, as our new CEO.

To access all of Judy Cranston’s tweets while she was our CEO, click here (Excel Spreadsheet)

Why I Give to Girl Scouting

[The post below was written by Donna Dolce, a lifelong Girl Scout]

I have always been a Girl Scout and Girl Scouting has been my life blood since joining as a 7 year old Brownie in 1958!

Girl Scouting made me the person that I am and contributed to all that I have accomplished both professionally and personally.  My mother was my first Brownie Leader and what better role model can a child have than her own mother demonstrating leadership, courage, confidence and character to an impressionable daughter.  Through her leadership and the values gained in Girl Scouting I immediately learned that I could, in fact, be whatever I wanted to be, achieve whatever I set my mind to do and learn that service for others could be both a vocation and avocation.

I remained in Girl Scouting throughout High School because of the leadership of Celia Beckmann.  As the leader of the Senior Troop in our community, those of us that stayed knew that adventures would await us.  Mrs. Beckmann had a reputation that all the girls in her troops would travel.  In my case it was a 10 day bus trip to Philadelphia, Washington, DC and New York City.  As a young girl growing up in a small town in Western New York this was the first opportunity to visit not one, but three metropolitan cities in less than two weeks.  Little did I know that one day I would in fact find myself working in one of those cities!

Upon graduation from college, I returned to Fredonia to serve as Mrs. Beckmann’s co-leader and was ultimately recruited by the Executive Director to a paid position in Girl Scouting becoming the Director of Program, Property and Training, including serving as the Director for Camp Timbercrest for more than 7 years.

Experiencing enormous gratitude and success, I than accepted a similar position with a much larger council in New Jersey, which ultimately led to a position on the National Staff of GSUSA in New York City!  I marveled daily that this young girl from Western New York who had experienced the Big Apple as a younger Girl Scout, was now living the dream.

I subsequently left professional Girl Scouting to work with other National non-profits (YWCA of the USA and the United Way of Essex and West Hudson), but remained active as a member of the Board of Directors of a local New Jersey Council.  In addition, I parlayed my knowledge by seeking and serving two terms as a municipal council woman, utilizing many of the skills I had learned through Girl Scouting.

I returned to professional Girl Scouting in 2005 as the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Washington Rock Council and provided the staff leadership and support to the merger of three New Jersey Council’s retiring in 2008.  I subsequently relocated to Delaware and continue to serve on a county advisory committee for the Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay and provide consultative services to several local non-profit organizations.

Although I have no children of my own, I am blessed to have hundreds of younger girls and women who continuously share their stories and thank me because of the impact that Girl Scouting has had on their lives….and who can ask for more than that as a reward for a life well lived.

So, why you may ask, do I give……how can I not?  Girl Scouting has brought me a career, many friends far and wide and values that have led me to serve others no matter where I live.  What a better world we would be if EVERY girl could live the same life and benefit from this extraordinary program.

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