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Leading Ladies Spotlight: Tracy Hull

Updated: Jun 30, 2023


In our ongoing pursuit to celebrate and highlight remarkable women leaders in our community, GirlsLead is thrilled to present our latest interview in the Leading Ladies Spotlight series. Today, we have the privilege of sitting down with Ms. Tracy Hull, the Director of Scholarship Programs at the University Academy Foundation. Her candid responses offer a fresh perspective and shed light on the triumphs and tribulations of being a woman leader in today's fast-paced and ever-evolving world. Let's dive into this captivating conversation as we uncover the secrets to her remarkable success and her unwavering commitment to making a positive impact on her community.


Interview


Kripa Gauba:

How have you gotten to where you are today in your leadership position?


Tracy Hull:

I think just moving in the direction that felt the most authentic to me, and trying new things and doing the things that felt right. Each new step was kind of dictated by what I thought mattered. I've always been driven to help the world. My first heroes were people who did some good. So yeah, I think just following my gut and doing what I felt was going to help others the most.


KG:

What would you say is your leadership style?


TH:

I would say that I am a gatherer and an inspirer. So it is very organic. I actually lead best when it's not an official title, [rather] when it is a shared mission. So then I have the organization and can integrate the group vision and move us forward, but I do that through inspiration and buy-in.


KG:

So, as a female leader, what do you think has been the most significant barrier in your career? Have you been confronted with any gender-related roadblocks?


TH:

I think the biggest one is the pay gap, from both a pay transparency perspective and as a helper, which have historically been female roles, because there's a lack of pay transparency. And because historically women all the way through today don't ask for their worth, those roles are often underpaid. And I have certainly done my time in those underpaid roles for decades. Thankfully, now I'm in a place where I feel like I am valued and compensated appropriately. They had pay scale on the job description, all of those things. So, I think that there are things that systematically are improving in that space, but I think we have a long way to go with pay transparency, which is an element of equity.


KG:

Kind of across your entire career path, has there been any one pivotal or very significant moment that kind of made you realize that what you're doing really mattered?


TH:

I am really lucky that I get to have a lot of those moments, such as things from being invited to this interview because of our relationship to being at Costco and a kid hugging me and saying, "You're the reason I'm still alive," which is a really a dramatic moment, but I've had multiple kids say that because I was a part of their life. Things were different for them, and each of those things is as important as the other. So I think, saying that there's one moment, I would have to say no, but there are the string of moments that have the same theme of students that I worked with expressing that it mattered, that I was a part of their life.


KG:

That's really nice. Did you ever have a woman leader as a mentor? Or are there any specific women who inspired you?


TH:

Oh my gosh, so many. So the first, that I didn't know but was my hero, and I read everything that I could about her, was Mother Teresa. And as I've gotten older, I know that there are some things that people have lots of different things to say about that at this point. But from my perspective, when I was a kid, [she] was just the helper and that was so inspirational to me. And then as I've grown there's been a string of women and all of my mentors have been women. There was a woman that I worked with when I was underpaid and undervalued, and saw leadership and other really high-value qualities in me, [and she] encouraged me to apply for some positions that I got. She ended up bringing me over to Girl Scouts and I met a ton of incredible women [there]. It has just been this incredible group of women I have. I also have a great core group of friends and many of them are leaders in their space, and just the way that we encourage each other. And we've all gone from very entry-level positions to growing and developing together. I'm very lucky that I have those people and I'm incredibly thankful.


KG:

That's amazing, and very important. Stemming off of that, what do you think are some other ways that women can support other women?


TH:

Just showing up for each other. And that looks like so many different ways. Especially my time at Girl Scouts showed me a myriad of concrete ways to do that. When someone is not in the room , making sure the way that you're thinking about the way that you're talking about them. When you're sharing space, having people, making sure that the women in the space feel valued and that their voice is heard. Women really, I think have an even higher value of feeling comfortable in a space, and so helping people feel comfortable in those spaces. Just looking out for each other can go a long way.


KG:

Shifting gears a little bit, what do you think are the most important qualities of a well-rounded, successful leader?


TH:

I think empathy and trust - not just honesty, not just telling the truth, but trusting yourself enough to know that you've hired the right folks or that you're leading the right folks and that they can do the things that need to be done. So empathy, trust, and this is a weird choice of words, but hospitality, in the sense that they make people feel comfortable in their space, whatever that space is, because a lot of times people are automatically intimidated by folks in those leadership roles. And creating that environment of hospitality kind of reduces that tension and things like that. Overall, empathy, honesty, and having an environment of hospitality that you take with you everywhere you go.


KG:

Again just kind of going back to your career path, what do you think is the greatest risk that you've taken in your professional career?


TH:

The most recent risk was changing roles. I was at Girl Scouts for nine years and I recently started with a new organization in January, and it was the first time I left somewhere that I loved. I grew a ton working at Girl Scouts. I had an incredible community there. It was the first place that saw my value and that I began to see my own value. Leaving was a big and scary decision. Thankfully, it's working out well and really right. But that was a big risk because there are so few places in the nonprofit space that are safe and where people are compensated appropriately. So to leave one that I found and I loved was scary.


KG:

I'm glad it's working out! So, as an undoubtedly very successful woman, you are likely very busy, how do you find time to take care of yourself and maintain a good mental health?


TH:

That's a great question and I'm still figuring it out. With the new role, I have been figuring out what that means. [Because] I think it means different things for each position, as each job takes something different from you. Whether it's your time or you're using your physical body or your brain is fried at the end of the day. So figuring out, what the role is taking from you, how to put it back in, and how to create a rhythm that doesn't just drain you. So for me, I journal every morning, that is the number one priority. Even if I have to go in super early, I'm getting up an extra 15 minutes just to do that. I try to get a walk in with my dog and if those two things happen, we call it a win. There's a lot of other things that I try to layer in, but those two small things really mean a lot to me. Just finding those one or two things that you prioritize, and then making them a part of how you care for yourself every day.


KG:

This has been very, very helpful. Just one last question, what is one piece of advice that you would either give to your younger self or just to young women out there who are starting their own leadership journeys?


TH:

Follow your yes. And know that that can change directions as many times as it needs to. Sometimes we can get really get caught up in the weight of our decisions because it feels like once we make the decision it's over. And sometimes it can feel lighter to go, "This is what I'm gonna do for now, and I can reevaluate in six months or a year or six years, or whenever.". So, follow your yes, and if there isn't a solid, strong, easy thing to get excited about, that is a yes. Make a decision and just keep reevaluating knowing you can change your mind. So if you have two things in front of you, if it's engineer or doctor, and neither of them makes you go "yes!", take some math and science classes and keep moving and seeing, what brings that "yes!" out of you?


KG:

That's really good. I'll have to keep that in mind for myself as well! Thank you so much for speaking with me today, this was definitely very helpful and I think it's going to inspire a lot of young women.

TH:

Of course! I love what y'all are doing. Have a good one.


Closing

Leadership knows no boundaries. We encourage each of you to embrace your unique qualities and strengths, knowing that you, too, have the power to shape your community and create a lasting impact. GirlsLead looks forward to bringing you more inspiring stories and conversations that will continue to empower our leadership abilities.



 

About Tracy


Tracy Hull is the Director of Scholarship Programs at the University Academy Foundation (formerly Friends of UA). She has been involved in various teen leadership development initiatives and is a community cultivator championing youth ambition.


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Disha G
Disha G
2023年6月01日

Very nice read. Love the "Follow your yes" mantra from Ms. Tracy Hull.

Look forward to more newsletters and spotlights to learn from females inspiring and lifting each other up!


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