Growing Through Volunteerism

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I’m privileged to work for Ernst & Young (EY), an organization that is committed to building a better working world and is supportive of its employees who give back to the community. My focus is on building a better Chicago by making a difference in the lives of girls and young women through my board membership and active involvement in the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

My work with the Girl Scouts began when I watched my mother and grandmother serve as troop leaders. Carrying on their tradition of service was important to me, so I explored board opportunities when I got settled in Chicago after relocating from Minneapolis.

I began serving on the Girl Scouts board shortly after a significant reorganization, which enabled me to make an immediate impact, helping the organization merge seven councils into one. Today, I’m on the audit and risk committees and I co-chair Camp CEO, a weeklong program that matches young women with female executives to build courage, confidence and character.

In addition, I’m the board liaison for the long-running program Girl Space. This 12-week program provides mentoring opportunities for more than 3,000 girls in nearly 40 schools within some of our community’s most at-risk neighborhoods.

When people ask how I’m able to spend anywhere from 10-40 hours each month with the Girl Scouts, the answer is easy. I do it because I’m passionate about the organization and because I know my work is improving the lives of others. Volunteering also has helped me expand my professional network and build relationships with some of the city’s most respected leaders.

Equally critical to my success is the support I’ve received from EY. The firm supports the Girl Scouts financially and, more importantly, encourages my involvement because the firm understands that my experiences as a board member are strengthening my leadership skills and enabling me to foster leadership in others. Whether I’m out of the office for a morning board meeting or am leaving early to volunteer, my teams recognize my commitment and accommodate my time away.

If you’re looking to make a difference in the community, I encourage you to start by finding an organization whose mission excites you. Then, leverage your personal network to help you identify the right opportunity. I’m confident that getting involved, meeting new people, developing new skills and giving back will pay great dividends.

Last fall, I received a Volunteer of Excellence Award from the Girl Scouts. While it was an honor to be recognized, it was the organization I had to thank. The Girl Scouts have enabled me to make Chicago a better place to work and live for so many young women.

If only they had a badge for that honor.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ernst & Young LLP.

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About Jodi Bahl

Jodi Bahl is Ernst & Young LLP’s Midwest Human Capital Leader with more than 15 years of experience. In this role, she leads more than 200 professionals who provide holistic human capital services to our clients.