Each month, those of us working with Hardy Girls Healthy Women want to share the talent and vision of some of our incredible staff, volunteers, students, and board members. To start this new year, we’re introducing you to our phenomenal leader, Kelli McCannell. Kelli is HGHW’s Executive Director, and she does an incredible job helping this organization thrive and grow.
How did you get involved with Hardy Girls?
I saw the organization on my first visit to Maine (in 2009) and stalked professionally since then. When the ED job opened up, I’d just had my second son (he was 4mths) and couldn’t resist applying.
What do you do at HGHW?
I focus on operations and fundraising. Because we are a small nonprofit, I also do some programming (which I love!!). In operations, I make sure we have someplace to work, people to do the work, and a bunch of behind the scenes logistics. With fundraising, I make sure we can pay for all of that! 🙂
What’s a typical day like for you?
I’m typically applying for grants (or sending reports for ones we already received), following up with donors, checking in with coworkers, working on graphic design (flyers, letters, social media – oh my!), posting on social media, reading recent articles to follow trends on gender and girls’ development, and more!
What’s one thing you love doing as part of HGHW?
There are soooo many things I love doing at HGHW. I LOVE talking to adults about how to take youth seriously. I love talking to young people about media and watching the whole conspiracy of girl/women stereotypes open up in their minds while they realize “No wonder I feel this way!” I love driving a group of teenagers and overhearing their conversations on the minutiae and the big parts of their lives – they are so smart and hilarious and caring.
What do you wish you’d known earlier or that someone had told you?
I wish I’d known that most things don’t matter. So many little things in life felt so big to me — getting a perfect score on a test, are people noticing that I didn’t shave my legs today? should I share my thoughts in this class/meeting/interaction? what if I sound stupid?, how long do I have to wait to respond to someone I want to talk to without seeming too eager?, do I have something in my teeth?, would friends tell me if I stink at this?, am I allowed to be proud of my artwork? — and it’s exhausting to care that much all the time! No one was really looking at me because they were mostly too self-conscious of themselves. No one remembers when I had stubbly legs or told an unfunny joke. There are better things to spend my energies on. How am I showing people I love them? How am I changing the world. Those are questions to hang out with!
What have you learned from Board Members, the Girls Advisory Board, and Muses?
Relationships have always been the most valuable mirror for me. When I see our Girls Advisory Board being comfortable in their voices and owning their passions, it inspires me to do the same. When I see folks setting healthy boundaries, it shows me ways to do that, too. I really appreciate watching folks be vulnerable, navigate challenging conversations, and be genuine. It helps me see examples of what that looks like and adapt it for myself. I’m always impressed with folks grace, humility, and strength. GAB and Muses also teach me lots of updated vocabulary and theories!
You have a free day to yourself — what do you do?
Oooh, so rare. A good chunk would be spent reading – outside if possible or some comfy place inside. And if I didn’t get completely lost in the book for the whole day, I’d add whatever art project I’m currently working on. Right now, it’s a quilt for my oldest friend. The math of quilting, the colors of the fabric, and the physical aspect of sewing are all so calming to me. I lose time and feel accomplished.
Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about you?
I love singing. I only do it in the car, the shower if no one is home, and sometimes with my kids. I think I’m pretty good, but depending on the song, my kids want none of it. 🙂
What are you happiest doing when you’re not in school or at work
Being silly with my kids. I love when we all get laughing and can’t stop. When we end up out of breath and giddy. It feels so joyful.
Favorite place in Maine?
Lake George in Skowhegan is such a little gem. There’s a big-enough beach, shade, place for dogs, and enough of a lake to canoe in. We can spend hours there with very little sibling-fights. When we leave, everyone has pink cheeks, sandy feet, damp butts, and is ready for an early bedtime.