ONE ON ONE | JoAnn McBride Tourism director loves charm of Lawrence County
As executive director of tourism in Lawrence County, what do you like most about Lawrence County?
The people are wonderful here. The support I get from the community and board of directors is wonderful. The big development hasn't hit here yet. It will, but right now it still has that rural charm that I like.
Would you change anything about Lawrence County?
I would like to see the citizens of the county view their area through the eyes of a visitor.
What would that accomplish?
It would make them more proud of what they have because the visitors that come up here love it. Some people who have been here for years and years and years can't see the charm of the area.
When did you become involved in Girl Scouting?
I'm a 36-year member of Girl Scouting. Five years as a girl and the remainder of the time as an adult volunteer. As an adult, I became involved when my daughter was 2 years old because I just couldn't ... I was in the house with the two children and I needed an outlet for my energy. So I became involved then as a volunteer and did different jobs in Girl Scouting. I was on the Girl Scout staff for five years and when I got this job, I became a member of the board of directors.
How long is your term as president?
It's a three-year time and it will be finished in April 2004.
What is the most important thing Girl Scouting offers these days?
It can empower girls.
In what way?
Studies have shown if there is a co-ed organization for girls and boys together, that the girls always step back and they let the boys go ahead. But Girl Scouting is committed to the fact that this is an organization for girls and girls alone. And girls are encouraged to advance at their own speed, and for some girls, the traditional Girl Scout meeting is not always the norm anymore. There are a lot of individually registered girls that work on the challenges and awards on their own.
What has Girl Scouting brought to you personally?
I really feel I've been able to enhance my position here as executive director because of what I learned through Girl Scouting.
In what way?
Strategic planning was something unheard of as far as a lot of tourism agencies in the state. We were a small agency and we developed our strategic plan years ago and we follow it. We set a plan and every year we have priorities that we want to attain in that plan and we really work hard at getting those priorities, knowing the plan is often overwhelming and that there are only two of us in the office. So we always ask the people developing the plan, if nothing is done this year what are priorities we should be working on? So we strive to get those priorities accomplished.
Since tourism is your profession, do you travel much?
For the job I travel quit a bit in setting up trade shows. I also travel with the Girl Scouts. They send me to different functions.
Where do you like to travel for personal enjoyment?
Cape Cod was nice. We did a big family vacation there in July and that was very nice and relaxing. A number of years ago, my husband and I just got in the car with no destination in mind and drove. We drove along Skyline Drive in Virginia and ended up at Cape Hatteras.
Do you have any heroes?
She always was very positive about everything. Monetarily, mom had nothing. My dad died he was 54 years old and my mother never worked outside the home. He had no pension. So she lived on Social Security, but you would have thought she was the richest woman in the world. She lived out of her garden. She always had a very positive attitude and she instilled in us the fact that we could do and be whatever we wanted to be. Even when my dad told us you will never get anywhere or be anything because you are Polish. That was his belief and I can still see my mother shaking her head. She would say "Don't believe him. You can do anything you want to do."
What a wonderful woman. Is she still living?
She passed away six years ago. A big loss in my life. People loved her. At the funeral home, you couldn't get in, there was such a long line. She was also active in Girl Scouting. The Girl Scouts built a footbridge in her honor at the Wright-A-Way Cabin in Chippewa Township.