Colorado G.I.R.L.: JEN CLANAHAN

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a Colorado native and grew up in Denver. I went to college at CU.  It was there that I learned about things we could all do to help the environment in general and wildlife in particular. I’ve always been fascinated by wildlife and consider myself so lucky every time I get to see them in the wild, so protecting wildlife and therefore wildlife habitat became a passion. Two of my favorite wildlife sightings have been when I saw a jaguar in the Amazon and ‘Spirit Bears’ in British Columbia. I’ve worked for several elected officials and organizations that try to protect our natural environment. Now that I’m a mom (I have an 8-year-old daughter), it’s even more important to me to protect her future, make she can grow up in a clean environment and can see wildlife in the wild!

When in your life/career have you been a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

While working for a Denver City council member, I suggested we streamline the process to put in small solar and wind energy installations at individuals’ homes and businesses. Fortunately, the council member I worked for liked the idea, so I worked on everything from shaping the legislation to meeting with interested parties and got the legislation passed! More clean energy for Denver! I also created the climate change patch for the Girl Scouts of Colorado!

Now, I work on a daily basis leading and working with other parents who also want to advocate for clean air and clean energy so that our kids can breathe clean air and be healthy!

What does it mean to “take the lead?”

There are so many forms of leadership. It means clear communication and it means honesty. It also means integrity. For girls and women, it often means being assertive so that we are heard. It can mean coming up with a creative solution to a problem. There are big and little problems in our lives every day so there are so many opportunities to take the lead. It can be about putting others first and helping others, or even about supporting others as they lead.

Why is it important for girls and women to “take the lead?”

Girls and women often bring skills that are critical for accomplishing goals. Girls and women are more likely to listen to all sides of a discussion and find a compromise. They encourage participation from everyone rather than trying to exclude some people or ideas. They are more likely to find solutions that benefit more people.  There are studies that show when women lead more gets done!  That why it is so critical for girls and women to lead. We need more women in all forms of leadership from Congress to the boards of directors of major companies to deans of schools and everything in between!

What has helped you achieve success?

When I really care about something that I’m working on, that passion helps me persevere if I don’t succeed the first time. I would say that perseverance and dedication are key. Also, building partnerships with others. Working with others makes the work more successful not to mention more fun!

Were you a Girl Scout? If so, tell us about your experience and what is the most important thing Girl Scouts taught you?

Yes! I was a Brownie when I was in second and third grade. I had hoped to continue, but my family moved and there wasn’t a local troop at my new school. I remember the camaraderie with other girls and how much fun we had. My time with the Girl Scouts taught me the strength I had in me because I was a girl. It also showed me all the ways girls can support other girls. Too often people build themselves up by trying to bring others down. Girl Scouts teaches and demonstrates all the positives of supporting each other!

Girl Scouts of Colorado