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Sue Clark poses with members of the Rochester second-grade Brownie Troop 6400.
By Girl Scouts of Land of Lincoln Council | SUBMITTED
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Sue Clark: Always prepared
Local Girl Scouts prosper with strong leaders
By Kathleen Ostrander

That started as an interim position as chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of Lincoln Land turned into a 13-year second career. But then again, Sue Clark is not a person who does anything half heartedly.

There is a common theme in all of the award nominations others have written about her: "Her efforts are tireless."

"One of her strongest attributes is that she can lead."

"She has strong ideals and an excellent work ethic."

In September, Clark was honored at "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," a Girl Scouting event held at Denney Jewelers.

"Each and every day she is a wife, who along with her husband, Alan, are moved by their passion and values to be of service to others through their many civic, educational and charitable endeavors," according to the program describing Clark.

She was honored for her commitment to Girl Scouts and volunteer efforts while still building a strong family along with her husband.

"Through Sue," the program continues, "her family has been provided the priceless lesson of high principles and ideals and a strong work ethic."

Clark came to the Springfield area in the 1970s, and she entered the field of social services with a part-time position with the Illinois Health Improvement Association and Illinois Health Improvement Foundation. By 1986, she was the executive director.

During the ensuing years, she said she worked with countless projects and health-care agencies throughout the state.

"One of my greatest achievements was instituting a million-dollar campaign for cancer research with the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. Funds were collected from direct mail campaigns to our membership, memorials, county office pledges and Foundation funds. This was the seed money that developed into the SimmonsCooper Cancer Research Center," Clark said.

Her work with the association introduced her to Debbie Ringer, who was the president of Girl Scouts of Land of Lincoln Council. In 1994, Clark was enjoying her retirement when she was contacted by Ringer to take the CEO position for six months while a search was conducted for a new Girl Scouts of Land of Lincoln Council leader.

"I didn't know anything about the Girl Scouts, and I didn't apply for the permanent position and they picked a new director," Clark said. But a month later, the new director left and Clark was lobbied by the board and staff to return.

And she did, and she stayed for 13 years, put the council into a position of financial solvency again, moved the organization into a position to consolidate with other councils and gave Girl Scouts a home on Baker Drive. A fitting address, she said, because of the cookie connection.

"Initially, I just didn't think I had the credentials to be the CEO," she said. "But I steeped myself in Girl Scout lore, and I had worked for other non-profits."

Clark never was a Girl Scout herself, and part of the Girl Scout legacy is daughters following their mothers into the organization. But she's addressed that - her daughter in Naperville has started a Daisy troop.

One of her challenges when she took over was trying to figure out how to motivate volunteers, because the leaders and other support for individual troops are all volunteers.

"When Girl Scouting started, it was stay-at-home moms. Now, so many moms are in the work force and having training for two hours during the day or even on the weekends is difficult. So we've become more savvy about that, and we train leaders over the Internet," Clark said.

"The backbone of the organization has always been our volunteers, and it may take an extra push to get them," she said. "The rewards from the mentorship, what you receive back is exceptional. When you work with children and you are able to see the change, see them step into the adult world, that's just wonderful."

She said Girl Scouts have also become an opportunity for single moms to network while their daughters socialize.

Clark was the prime mover behind getting the Girl Scouts a new home.

"We needed a suitable growth area. My husband is in real estate; my sons are in construction. We did the (fundraising) campaign. We got help with funding and staff helped develop an entire plan for the building. We got a wonderful program room for training volunteers; we can have statewide meetings there. It's great," Clark said.

In this day and age, is there still room for Girl Scouts? Definitely, Clark said. A lot of colleges look more closely at applicants who have Girl Scout experience on an application.

"There's a whole consciousness that is spreading that Girl Scouts is more than cookies and camping - although there is nothing wrong with cookies and camping," she said with a laugh.

"There will always be a need for a place where girls can go and just be themselves, no pressure from the environment, and Girl Scouts lets you do that and helps you grow.

"Cookies are a part of that. You formulate a sales program, you meet people, some of them say 'no' and you learn to deal with that. You get the cookies; you are responsible for delivering them and keeping track of the money. There will always be something relevant about Girl Scouting," Clark said.

Clark also nurtured her staff, and when she retired, left the headquarters and the council in a position to continue moving forward.

Springfield's staff is very successful and that's because of Sue Clark, said Pam Kovacevich, chief executive officer for Girl Scouts of Central Illinois.

"Whatever she worked on, the end result was the same - she did it for the girls," Kovacevich said.

The staff has really been developed and trained. It's a good place to work and very mission driven, she added.

"Regardless of what Sue was doing, budgeting or interviewing people, the end result was always working on something that would continue developing the girls.

"She was the driving force behind the headquarters, and it is just a great place for troops to meet, have bridging ceremonies and for training," Kovacevich added.


Girl Scout promise,

law and motto


The Girl Scout Promise can be made in English, Spanish, or in American Sign Language with the same meaning.

On my honor, I will try:

To serve God and my country,

To help people at all times,

And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

The Promise is often recited at Girl Scout troop meetings while holding up the three middle fingers of the right hand, which forms the Girl Scout sign. Girl Scout policy states that the word "God" may be interpreted depending on individual spiritual beliefs. When reciting the Girl Scout Promise, "God" may be substituted with the word dictated by those beliefs.


I will do my best to be

Honest and fair,

Friendly and helpful,

Considerate and caring,

Courageous and strong, and

Responsible for what I say and do,

And to

respect myself and others,

respect authority,

use resources wisely,

make the world a better place, and

be a sister to every Girl Scout.


Be Prepared.

- Source: Wikipedia



Story published Friday, January 9, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 1 )

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