Fierce Advocacy: A Journey with Shelley Irwin

ATHENA Shelley Fierce Advocacy

Take the journey of personal advocacy with Shelley Irwin, 2016 ATHENA Award recipient and host/producer of The WGVU Morning Show who spoke at the January ATHENA Leadership Forum.

IT keeps you up at night. IT drives you to action. IT just may be the spark that lights your fire. IT… is one of the 8 ATHENA tenets. May I discuss the tenet …of FIERCE ADVOCACY.

What an honor it was to receive the 2016 ATHENA Award on behalf of our Greater Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. It is my obligation to uphold and put to work the daily practice of ALL the ATHENA tenets, including Celebration and Joy, Giving Back, Collaboration, Learning, Relationships, Courageous Acts, Authentic Self AND this idea of FIERCE ADVOCACY.

FIERCE ADVOCACY: Supporting and acting on your passion for people, causes or ideas, creating an unstoppable force for the greater good.

Take the journey of personal advocacy with Shelley Irwin, 2016 ATHENA Award recipient and host/producer at WGVU Radio.

Just Do It.

I’m an “advocate” for taking advantage of opportunities presented. When asked to co-chair a committee, say yes! Twice this happened to me. Twice I said yes. I’m waiting for third times the charm!

When you serve in this community, you witness like minds coming together for a similar cause. And you become friends.

One of my first committees I worked with mentors I call dear friends to this day. When asked to join the GR Lions Club, I hit the ground running, not only making history as the first female president in 89 years (glad you got your act together, gentleman!), but was able to witness how dollars FUNDRAISED went right back into the community to help those with visual impairment!

Lives are touched by those who unite in passion. Take advantage of an invite. It’s a compliment that someone believes in you. Just do IT!

Stick To Your Commit

What’s your level of Commitment? When I commit, I’ll be at the meeting and play the role I can best bring to the table. Commit to take on a new project, to meet with a new mentee, to beginning a new exercise program, but take it seriously. Commitment takes time, talents and treasures.

Commitment will keep you focused plus is necessary for the group’s puzzle to come together … if you are the missing puzzle piece, the picture won’t be complete … if you are the loose spoke … the wheel will wobble. How about a commitment to yourself?

In September, I committed to finishing a race of a lifetime. The World Championships Long Distance Duathlon included somehow surviving Switzerland Mountains, that’s straight up and straight down on my “red devil”, followed by and preceded by hill running, 12 hours allotted to do this task. Two things consistent on my mind … “you must finish, and you mustn’t crash. You have a September 15th ATHENA celebration that would not be pretty in a body cast!” I stuck to the commitment, made the deadline with thirty minutes to spare. You CAN and MUST commit.

Your teammates, committee mates, your FAMILY deserves your commitment. Pair that commitment with your advocacy. That will get you to your seat before the meeting is called to order.

Be Well

Be a fierce advocate for wellness. If you don’t create a healthy foundation from which to build, how can you leap into the many projects and life goals you have in store? I take on the 80/20 rule. I focus 80% of my lifestyle on healthy choices in mind, body, and spirit yet I sure look forward to the 20% of a free day! Dare we use the moderation rule? Life comes at us full speed ahead. Good things happen, bad things happen. Armoring ourselves with the best defense TO life just may include a “health” plan. Yes, for me, a goal to run, skip or jump high.

We are what we eat. You “feel” what you eat. Mind you, I’m not a fan of diet cheese, but am a fan of making choices, some rigid and some due to celebration! Be a role model for your loved ones. Set the bar high for yourself and those who aspire to be YOU! Carrots DO help the eyes, an apple a day COULD keep the doctor away. Just sayin’!

Take the time to move. Your body craves this action more than you know. Today, park a little further away and take a set of stairs. It’s my advocacy to see us all reap the benefits of taking care of our personal machines.

Find Your Passion

One of my favorite advocacies is doing what you love, vocationally and/or avocationally. Change your career if you’re not happy, mentor young men and ladies to prepare the next gen, or find forever homes for every four legged critter in the world. Therein lies my mighty mission.

I made a major career change in my late thirties to follow my vocational passion. Practicing Physical Therapy for fifteen years was rewarding and a necessary service, but today, I have the honor of serving a broader reach through messaging, sharing stories of health and more through following my passion and making a purposeful change. Blood, Sweat, Tears and JOY!

I look to serve as best I can to role model FOR our future. You bet I’ll advocate for Young women to find their voice, to serve at the table, to follow their dreams. Multiple local organizations are waiting for those who advocate for future development of young leaders. If not you, who?

And … if only I could adopt one more Jack Russell! It’s no secret there is an overpopulation of pets needing homes. To serve in the arena of animal rescue is one of my callings, but I can’t take them all home. Or can I? Advocate for those who don’t have a voice.

These advocacies keep me up at night, drive me to action, and are the sparks that light my fire. Find yours and start acting. Begin…yesterday.

Anna Young Administrator
Digital Content Specialist
Anna is the digital guru for the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
follow me

3 thoughts on “Fierce Advocacy: A Journey with Shelley Irwin

Leave a Reply