Woman of Influence: Bree Gillespie

Woman of Influence: Bree Gillespie



Woman of Influence: Bree Gillespie

A brief interview with Central Penn Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award Winner and coLAB’s very own Director of Special Projects

What does it mean to be a community influencer, in your own words?
It’s an honor to be selected. I’m happy and humbled. For my children and family, I want this award to demonstrate my definition of motherhood by being someone that gives back to their community through time and service. I do this work for them, and it’s important to me that they see me through this lens, in addition to my “mom” and “coach” responsibilities that they see more frequently.

I especially want my daughter to believe in her own girl power! Above all, I am so thankful for the people that have made this happen and support me every day.

Tell us about a particularly defining moment in your career.
I’m proud of the opportunity to join the coLAB team and work with mission driven companies. I’ve been very fortunate to have many opportunities and work with wonderful people throughout my career, and to be surrounded by people so passionate about helping community-focused organizations in my most recent years is very rewarding.

One of the opportunities and challenges that goes along with this is managing the balance of being a working mom—caring and giving wholeheartedly to my family, and giving my best in the community. It’s all important. Learning how to do that in a way that is sustainable is like a new career altogether! I don’t see my community work separate from my work as a mom, they’re not silo-d. This is holistically all my passion and work; there is no separation, and doing well in one area only enhances the successes in the others.

You’re a mentor in many capacities. How did you hone this unique skillset?
Back when I played field hockey in college, my nickname was “Bree Mom.” My personality is one that feeds off connection, it gives me energy and makes me happy. I live for the ability to really understand and connect with people and enjoy them.

I take a lot of pride in the past few years of coaching and mentoring young women, helping them grow both in sport and in community. To me, sport has always been a tool to support strong leadership in the community, and I hope my career and this award demonstrate how that can really come to life.

Who is your role model and why?
At the moment one is my husband! He’s my best friend, mentor and rock; he’s a driven professional and compassionate father, and I’ve learned a lot from him over the last 16 years from him.

Another one would have to be Michelle Obama; she’s bold. She is so passionate about the work she does, and she’s not afraid to share that. She’s a strong woman who used her spotlight for good. She’s mission driven as a person, making an impact on people’s lives in such a positive way, and I really try to emulate that in my day to day.

What would you say to other women also working to balance a successful career and community leadership?
It’s okay to fail sometimes. We set ourselves up to be always “on” or always perfect. And yes, you want to do that, and sometimes you have to give yourself a break. You’re always your own hardest, toughest critic; it’s okay to let a ball drop and not beat yourself up too much about it.

Also, I’d say dive into the things that you love and that are important for you; stay on your path, and let the non-essential things drop away. Define your path and Roll with it. If there are extraneous things, you have to let them go.

What would you put on a billboard?
“The world belongs to the bold.”

My dad used to say this to me all the time. You have to take chances, push the edge of what you’re doing and what feels right, and you have to stand up for your ability to do that. This has been a guiding principle for a very long time for me; in my mind, it’s about encouraging girls and women to do what’s important to them and stand up and be bold—just like Michelle Obama.

What’s your super power or spirit animal?
I think of myself as a big mama polar bear, sometimes. She’s fierce in how she protects her cubs, keeping them afloat. I see myself as this guider, offering gentle nudges in the right direction and bringing food into the fort, making sure everyone (in my life and community) is nourished and protected.

As for a super power… I’m not sure. I have a lot of energy to champion what I believe in. Standing strong in this power, in this concept of balance and care for the wellbeing of others, that’s my life’s work. If that’s a superpower, then there you have it!

The Expansion Years



The Expansion Years

Hello! In case you’re just waking up from the 2-year ‘nap’ between our last blog post and this one, know you’re not alone. We too are in that post-snooze haze, where time seems to bend and stretch. So much seems to have happened since our last blog post in April 2016; coLAB has seen what some might call a “teenage growth spurt”—a couple of aches and pains, and a LOT of exciting new strength, size, and drive.

Over the last two years, we’ve been fortunate to grow the company in many ways, most notably: two new full-time team members; regional growth ballooning out from Lancaster central; and a CEO-in-training named Maeva Gallagher. If you haven’t had the pleasure of working with these ladies, yet, here’s a peek inside the growing skillset and service offerings of the coLAB Team.

Meet Courtney Rinden (pictured right).

This fiery F&M graduate brings capability, style, and passion to the coLAB Team. With expertise in data-driven economic development as a means to improve community wellbeing, Courtney spearheads initiatives like the B Corp certification of our entire business! She is an avid believer that business can be a force for positive change and won’t let anything stop her until she changes the world. Boy, are we lucky to have this powerhouse on the team, so far from her roots in Orange County, California.

Meet Caitlyn Bordon (pictured left).

Since July of 2017, Caitlyn has come onboard the coLAB team, supporting the many varied projects always capturing our hearts. Her steady presence keeps the coLAB Team grounded, in order to keep reaching for the stars, of course. As our resident Millersville Alum and alt-millenial, Caitlyn’s drive leads to elevating the many mission-driven organizations that improve the quality of life and community in Lancaster city, surrounding communities, and even overseas. We’re glad this lady picked Lancaster to call home, after her many days of wanderlusting.

Lastly, meet our new friend #RegionalGrowth.

Our Team often says, “Be careful what you put out to the universe”—because we have experienced the wonder of growth that’s possible when we speak ideas into life. We’re not exempt from the need for a strategic plan, and one goal we identified in our 2017-2018 Strategic Plan is to grow coLAB’s capacity to support organizations throughout the region, including broader South Central PA, Western PA, Philadelphia, and Maryland. We’re thrilled to be seeing this venture through to fruition so rapidly; 2018 to date has been full of geographic expansion that keeps our wheels on the highways and our coffee cups filled.

Stay tuned for future blogs about how coLAB is growing to elevate your mission driven work. For more adventures of the coLAB Team, follow us on Social Media! We love to keep you posted about our ventures and the organizations who inspire us.






Creating Healthier Outcomes for Lancaster County Youth

In 2013, CoLAB proudly partnered with Lancaster Osteopathic Health Foundation (LOHF) to assess the mental and behavioral health challenges of Lancaster County youth. coLAB conducted surveys, created focus groups, and administered surveys.
A major theme emerged: health services are available but families have difficulty accessing them. “Services are like tax breaks. They exist if you know how to find them,” said LOHF Executive Director, Anna Kennedy. “It was a full-time job for parents to coordinate health services for their children We heard them loud and clear.”
After close evaluation of these initial results, coLAB facilitated a board retreat to help the organization assimilate the nearly 50­-page report and review their mission, vision and goals. Imperative to the operational success of the organization, LOHF needed to align grant-making efforts under one umbrella ­­ improving behavioral health of children and increasing the functional capacity of health care providers.
In partnership with Advanced Metrics, a leading healthcare software developer, coLAB launched a pilot program to link primary care providers with behavioral health specialists. This pilot is a collaborative effort that will result in a web-­based and mobile­-compatible resource center focused on bolstering information on youth behavioral health.
“In Lancaster County, mental health needs affect 26% of the population,” said Kennedy. “And the first symptoms typically occur in pre-­adolescents. We need to make it easy. We can help children do better in school and be healthier.” The pilot will be tested in five healthcare practices and three school districts. Future phases include roll­-outs for educators, parents and families.
“This is a project that requires a ton of innovation and creativity,” said Steve Herr of Advanced Metrics. “Kate’s ability to keep everyone grounded, organized and focused is critical to the successful implementation of the NavWell system.”
For additional information, please visit NavWell Pathways to Wellbeing.
Bringing Together Lancaster’s Nonprofit Leaders



Bringing Together Lancaster’s Nonprofit Leaders

At coLAB, we’re passionate about getting the right people in the room to solve our community’s challenges. So starting the Nonprofit Solution Exchange to connect Lancaster’s nonprofit leaders was a natural fit. 
We launched the Nonprofit Solution Exchange (NSE) because we knew that by getting diverse leaders in a room, we could use our collective influence to promote community change. NSE is a go-to resource for public policy input, a voice defining the significant value of Community Benefit Organizations and a network of leaders sharing knowledge and supporting each other in individual and organizational excellence. 
“For me, the initial benefit was to connect with other nonprofit chief executives for support and guidance in the various aspects of nonprofit management,” said Cheryl Heister, executive director of The Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon. “The personal connection is important and having a network of peers who I can contact with questions and advice is invaluable.” 
“As my involvement in the Exchange grew, I saw the potential to have real impact in our community. Our collective voice has more power. Each member brings a network of partners and assets that we can contribute to our sector.” 
Join us in our work of advocating, connecting, educating and supporting. The Nonprofit Solution Exchange meets on the third Thursday of each month at 8:30 AM and is managed by coLAB. Membership dues are $250/year for an organization, and include a 65% discount on PANO membership and products, 20% discount on Leadership Lancaster and 20% discount on Nonprofit Resource Network classes. 
For more information and to apply, click here.