GSHPA committee member Susan Smith talks importance of embracing the world around us, learning life skills

By Catherine Amoriello

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) is honored to have so many volunteers supporting Girl Scouts’ mission in our local communities. And we not only have external volunteers working hard to build girls of courage, confidence and character, but we also find support internally from our many board and committee members.

GSHPA invites its members to learn more about the philanthropic professionals who help guide our organization and why they dedicate their time to serving Girl Scouts. This week, we’re recognizing Susan Smith, GSHPA Board Development Committee member. Read on to learn more about this passionate volunteer!

Susan Smith is a GSHPA Board Development Committee member.
What advice would you give to girls interested in a career in grant writing?

Being a grant writer is so much more than just writing. It’s being a part of creating something new or growing something already existing. It is the opportunity to tell a story and show impact. It is building new relationships as you interact with people from diverse backgrounds. If you are pursuing a career in grant writing, be prepared to approach projects from different angles. You also need to be open-minded, a team player, and adaptable. And resilience is also important – the grant world is highly competitive with many great causes and limited funding. Do not let a decline knock you down. Instead use it as a learning experience to help you develop stronger proposals in the future as you forge ahead in your mission.

What can we do to have more girls/women in grant writing?

Securing funding through grants is vital in so many industries and it is especially crucial to the survival of non-profits. This results in a high demand for individuals with grant writing skills. Volunteering and being actively engaged in the community helps girls gain a broader perception of the world and how it works, including the importance of financial stability for organizations trying to make a difference, and the impact on others if they are forced to close their doors due to a lack of funding. In addition to writing and grammar skills, research, marketing, financials, business acuity and relationship skills are also important.

Why is being involved in Girl Scouts important to you?

I strongly believe in and support the Girl Scout mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. I value the fact the organization seeks to empower all girls to lead their best lives regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, socio-economic status or any other group affiliation. Girl Scouts helps girls realize their potential as they embark down the path to pursing their self-defined goals and living a meaningful life, however they may define it. Over forty years later, I still recall lessons I learned when I was a Girl Scout, and how those lessons helped to influence different aspects of my life and continue to do so to this day.

What advice do you have for girls who want to get involved with their communities?

Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world.’ Community engagement not only makes an impact on those around you, but it also impacts you directly as you develop new skills, meet new people, and learn more about the world around you. It helps you gain insight into challenges faced by others, while simultaneously helping you come to understand, and respect, different perspectives and ways of life, which is especially important in today’s world. Community involvement is a great way to help you discover your passions and is a great tool to help you gain experience and explore career opportunities.

Of the four components of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (STEM, Life Skills, Outdoors and Entrepreneurship), which one resonates with you the most, or you find most valuable to girls’ success?

STEM opens the door to a plethora of rewarding careers; outdoors leads to healthy living and preserving our planet, and entrepreneurship skills help you take control of your destiny. But as I reflect back on my life, life skills have always been at the forefront, both personally and professionally. I have had the opportunity to live, work, and travel all over the world. Wherever I went, I found life skills to be universal. Tapping into them helped me face obstacles head on and overcome challenges of each new place – whether it was adapting to a different culture, learning a new language, making friends, or simply getting lost when driving somewhere new. Life skills helped me to persevere.

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

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