Leading Ladies of Louisville: Lora L. Tucker

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The home base for Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana is a graceful modern building tucked away in the thick trees on Lexington Road, alongside a cluster of restaurants and convenience stores and a twisting country road. Inside, however, is a calm, light-filled space full of Girl Scouts history and a promise of things to come.

For the past four years of her illustrious career, CEO Lora L. Tucker has led the instantly recognizable organization designed to empower the future female leaders of Kentucky and America as a whole: The Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana.

“I was a girl scout from fourth grade all the way through college, so when you look at those things that have made you who you are today, girl scouting was very much a part of my makeup growing up,” said Tucker. “As a shy kid from a divorced family, Girl Scouting was a really safe place that I could find my voice.”

Teaching leadership and confidence through virtues like honesty, fairness, courage, compassion, character, sisterhood, confidence, and citizenship, Girl Scouts is based in New York City and  partnered with the Washington, D.C. Office of Girl Scouts of the USA and the Girl Scouts Advocacy Network.

The Girl Scout virtues served Tucker well through young adulthood. A 1989 graduate of Boston College and 1998 graduate of Central Michigan University, Tucker took the Girl Scout Promise and Oath of serving her country to heart and out into the world. Joining the United States Army in 1983, Tucker rose to the status of Army Colonel, a position from which she retired in 2010.

“One of my passions in life is leadership,” she said.

Moving to the north-central Kentucky area due to a family illness, Tucker caught wind of an open leadership position in the Girl Scouts organization and was immediately interested. As a childhood Girl Scout, she was attracted once again to the organization’s powerful promise.

“When this job opened up...wow,” Tucker remembered. “I had never really thought about it, but what a great organization to lead. Talk about coming full circle.”

After a whirlwind few months of double-dipping in both her new position at the Girl Scouts and her work with the Army, ”It was so busy I didn’t have time to miss the Army,” laughed Tucker, she took her leave to singularly begin her new position. Nowadays does occasionally miss the Army, she admits, particularly when it comes to deciding what to wear each day.

“You didn’t have to worry about it with the uniform,” she jokes.

Tucker came to lead Girl Scouts at the peak of the information age, when rapidly shifting modes of technology, teaching, and communication left many decades-old organizations playing catch-up. But outdated? Not in the case of Girl Scouts, said Tucker.

“Girl scouting finds itself in a unique time in its history,” said Tucker “It’s over a hundred years old, so it’s an organization that’s had to change over time to stay relevant.” With roots in early 20th century Georgia, the Girl Scouts of America has expanded over the last century into a multi-county, multi-state, multi-country force of empowerment, serving girls of all ages in both the United States and abroad.

Since its arrival to the southeast, Girl Scouts has rapidly extended its reach to girls throughout Kentucky and beyond, serving approximately 21,700 girls in 57 counties throughout Kentucky, Southern Indiana, and Tennessee. Tucker takes pride in this range of outreach.

“We’re fortunate to have some incredible camp properties and an outdoor pathway,” said Tucker of the unique Kentuckiana environment, referencing five beautiful campsites and and two additional Kentucky and Indiana-located program centers. “There are so many ways for girls to experience Girl Scouting today. A lot of girls in the troop pathways stay together for their entire Girl Scout experience.”

Today, the organization seeks to extend its outreach even further to girls in key age groups, particularly in kindergarten and  high school. Taking into account new millennial parents, packed schedules, and the importance of technology to a generation which has grown up with smartphones in hand, Tucker noted the importance of keeping Girl Scouts in tune with the times; and with the people who help make it tick.

“We’re looking at new models of ways to serve volunteers who are responsible for delivering the Girl Scout program, as well as making sure we engage girls at where they are today,” Tucker said. “Girls change over the years, and we’re an organization that has to keep up with that.”

No stranger to change,Tucker has helped ensure that the organization stays fresh. Girl Scouts boasts travel and business opportunities through cookie sales, and the creation of micro-communities through traditional troop programs; teaching priceless life lessons, values and skills.

So what is Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana doing differently--and what is contributing to its consistent success? With Tucker’s leadership, it’s changing, and changing for the better.

“Nonprofits are wonderfully complex, but it’s been a wonderful leadership road,”said Tucker affectionately of her journey thus far. “And it’s a lot of fun.”

And her favorite Girl Scout cookie? “Samoas,” she said, with a smile.

 

Photo courtesy of bizzjournals.com

 
About Silvana Hill
I am a soon-to-be junior journalism student at Northern Kentucky University with a passion for writing and editing. I love exploring the city and seeing what there is to discover and do.
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