GSHPA board and committee member Stacey O’Neal Irwin shares importance of communication skills, personal impact of Girl Scouts

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 Stacey O’Neal Irwin, GSHPA Board Member-At-Large, Volunteer Strategy Committee Chair, and former Board Development Committee member. Read on to learn more about this passionate volunteer!

Stacey O’Neal Irwin is a GSHPA Board Member-At-Large, the Volunteer Strategy Committee Chair, and a former Board Development Committee member.
What advice would you give to girls interested in a career in communication education?

I have learned over the course of my career that communication is a very versatile and useful topic to study. Learning about public speaking, group, interpersonal and non-verbal communication, leadership communication and media content creation are skills you can use for many kinds of careers. Studying communication also helps you become a better writer. Many companies and careers are looking for strong oral and written communication skills.

What can we do to have more girls/women in communication education?

Being a good communicator starts when you are young. Getting involved in clubs and activities like Girl Scouts helps young girls learn to use their voice in positive ways and allows them to practice verbally sharing their perspective in large and small groups. This also helps girls learn to become advocates for the ideals they believe in and the ideas they have. Fostering the idea that people want to listen to what girls have to say is important, because it leads to women who are strong communicators. Encouraging girls and young women to share their voice means we need to develop good listening skills so they feel heard. This builds confidence.

Why is being involved in Girl Scouts important to you?

I will always be grateful to my mother for being my Brownie troop leader. As I grew in Girl Scouting, I visited a TV studio with my troop and decided I wanted to study media and communication. I learned leadership and camping skills that helped me gain courage and confidence. I traveled and met Girl Guides from other countries. And I sold lots of cookies to pay my way. I became a leader of my daughter’s troop and watched girls earn their Gold Award like I did. I am grateful for the experiences I had and the volunteers who helped me along the way. I want to give back to the organization that helped me become who I am today and to give other girls those opportunities.

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

I think it’s great to really think about the kinds of things you’re interested in. Brainstorm and write them down. Then think about community groups or non-profit organizations that have those same interests. Go to their events and volunteer. Then let others know of your interests so they can get you connected. Gather a few friends and start a club to help others in your community where you see a need. Or take a class to learn a new skill others might need, then volunteer using that new skill.

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?

I like all four components and the way they intertwine to give a solid, unique foundation for programming experiences for girls and young women. I can share that I learned a lot of life skills from outdoor experiences. I gained confidence collaborating and planning trips, learning how to organize and budget my time and money, and learning water safety and first aid skills. I memorized the tour guide script and created my costume to be a tour guide at Foxfire House at Camp Furnace Hills. I gained confidence traveling, trail riding on horseback, kayaking, camping, hiking, and exploring in a safe environment at Girl Scout camp. I learned entrepreneurship skills selling cookies and fundraising. And certainly, STEM and the arts were intertwined in all of that. It combines for a unique leadership experience unlike any other.

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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