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Spotlight: Laurie Crawford

January 18, 2010

And representing our non-traditional-study-while-working-full-time-and-raising-two-daughters population this month is Laurie Crawford!

Laurie Crawford works as the Executive Director of United Way Manitowoc County, where she leads a team focused on improving the quality of life for all in Manitowoc County, by assessing community needs, raising funds, evaluating programs for funding, and advocating for strong programs.  She is now able to help people in the community, just as the community has helped her to get where she is today.

Laurie came to Silver Lake College for school three separate times: first, as an elementary student at St. Joseph’s elementary school (which is now the Generose Enrichment Center), second, as a Human Resources undergrad, and third, as a Master’s of Organizational Business grad student with emphases in Training and Development and Strategic Planning in Government.  But her educational life wasn’t quite as cut and dry as that.

After graduating high school, Laurie moved to Virginia and worked as an office supervisor for GTE Federal Systems.  This was her first experience with government– something that she would be interested in for the rest of her life.  She also worked with many great mentors who are still her friends today.  Then, after eight years away, Laurie felt Manitowoc County drawing her back.  With its great quality of life and three top-notch colleges nearby, as well as its excellent high schools, Laurie felt that Manitowoc would be the best place to raise her two daughters.  Upon returning, Laurie took an office support position at Point Beach Nuclear Plant in Two Rivers, and began taking classes at UW Manitowoc, so that she could earn a degree and be better able to have a positive impact on people’s lives.

Two years later, Laurie found her way to the desk of Silver Lake’s Linda Briggs-Dineen, the director of Career Directed Programs and Adult Accelerated Programs, to talk about getting her bachelor’s in Human Resources. “I’m glad I went back to school.  Although it was scary coming in, we had such a good time and of course learned so much.  A group of non-traditional students in  a classroom sharing job and life experiences together is pure fun,” Laurie reminisced.

In 1997, Laurie took a job at the Manitowoc County UW-Extension Office, where once again she most valued the relationships she formed with her colleagues.  “The people I worked with there are dedicated, resourceful, hardworking professionals, who were truly mentors for me.  There have always been people in the right places at the right times when I have needed guidance.”  After gaining her Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior from Silver Lake, she became the Department Director, where her duties included budget, community interaction, strategic planning, and employee training.  Although she enjoyed the job, she was not satisfied that it was the job where she could best make a difference in the local community.

Then came 2008 and Laurie was hired as the Executive Director of United Way, where she has found “work that truly inspires me every day.  If we do our job well at the United Way, we will have a healthier community.”  Although Laurie still has a dream of one day being in the Peace Corps, she is happy to have the opportunity to work with people whose focus is on making a positive difference in others’ lives.  We at Silver Lake College are proud of Laurie for her embodiment of the Franciscan value of Community, as she clearly spends her days working for the benefit of others!

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