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Native with a Heart for Nonprofits Gives Back

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Shayne Wheeler

As the old saying goes, home is where the heart is. For Shayne Wheeler, Kalamazoo is where her heart is, both professionally and personally.

"I am a Kalamazoo native. I grew up here and attended St. Monica Catholic School. Later, my family moved to Portage where I attended Portage Northern High School," she said.

"After graduating from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology-and a few years of living in Colorado-I was certain I wanted to start my career in the non-profit field, but I was unsure of what aspect I wanted to pursue. I came back to Kalamazoo, began a Masters of Public Administration program at WMU, and started looking for work in the field."

That search eventually led Wheeler to her current position, Communications Manager for Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan, which serves girls, volunteers and families in 34 Michigan counties.

"In 2006, I began working for Girl Scouts in fund development. In 2008, I took a position in communications, and, in 2011, I was promoted to manage the department," Wheeler said.

"I oversee all communications and marketing functions, and work closely with our CEO, membership, and program and fund development departments to bring awareness to the incredible accomplishments of our girls and volunteers and to promote the iconic Girl Scout brand in our communities."

Wheeler advises those considering a similar career path not to lose sight of the bigger picture.

"Don't lose sight of what you're really passionate about doing," she said. "Continue networking and building your skills, because the opportunity you're looking for is out there.

"I've been very fortunate to do something I love every day in support of a mission I personally believe in-helping girls build courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place-with a group of really smart, caring, and fun people. It's pretty awesome."

The group aspect is one of the many things Wheeler loves about her job.

"It is very common for non-profit marketers to work alone or in a very small department. I've been lucky to work with a team of three to four communications professionals at Girl Scouts. Regardless of the size of your department, your skill set must be broad to meet the needs of your organization and its constituents," she said.

Wheeler stays in Kalamazoo for what the community has to offer her personally as well as professionally.

"I met my husband here and we started our family. We stay because of the career opportunities we've enjoyed, the people, the affordability, and the amenities the city offers," she said.

"One of the things I love most about Kalamazoo is that the community is so focused on healthful living. Our family really enjoys the numerous bikeways, parks, farmers markets, and local restaurants that offer fresh, locally grown food.

"Kalamazoo is a community that actively demonstrates its values, and I'm very proud to be a part of that both personally and in my career," Wheeler said.

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