Women Leaders in the Valley Spotlight: Q&A with Joanne Troutman, President/CEO of Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way

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Q&A with Joanne Troutman, President & CEO, Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way
What’s a typical day like for you?
There’s no such thing as a typical day, and it’s part of what I love about my work. I try hard to start every day with yoga, whether it’s five minutes or half an hour. Yoga keeps me emotionally centered, and I have an autoimmune disorder, so it helps with all of the physical aches and pains. After that, I get my first cup of coffee or a latte, and I don’t dawdle. Once the clock hits 8 am, it’s usually off to the races (unless I have a radio appearance with Mark Lawrence, then everything is at least an hour earlier). I try to always make time at the beginning and end of the workday to respond to email and phone calls. Nowadays, it’s not unusual for me to have six or eight Zoom meetings a day on all kinds of topics. I rarely stop to eat, so I try to keep small healthy snacks at my desk, but you’ll always see me with a big glass of water.
I try to wrap up work meetings by 5:30 at the latest, but that’s not always possible. I work a lot of 10- or 12-hour days Monday through Thursday. Friday is my favorite day of the week because it’s more balanced. We have a pact at United Way to try to keep Fridays light so we can recharge our batteries. I don’t like to spend weekend days working, mostly because I think it sets a very bad example for the team. They don’t need to be getting work emails from me on days off. But my work has always involved events and off-hours activity and I embrace that – I would never ask a colleague to do something I wouldn’t do myself.
Pre-COVID or on those days when I’m out and about, I spend a lot of time in my car where I’m either on my Bluetooth on a meeting or phone call or I’m listening to a true crime podcast or possibly singing badly at the top of my lungs to the radio.  I’m definitely an extrovert, but the older I get, the more noise there is, the more I value silence and try to make sure that I build that into every evening before bed.
Who inspires you and why?
People who see possibilities and not just obstacles always inspire me.  It’s a really special gift to look at a problem and see it instead as an opportunity. I’m also always inspired by people who overcome the odds. Maybe it’s cliché, but I love a good underdog story. Through this work, I’ve met so many people who are ordinary, everyday people who have the most extraordinary stories. Honestly, every time I hear a personal story from someone who is in recovery from substance use disorder, I want to throw them a party and shout it from the rooftops.
As a woman leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career?
I can be a bit naïve. I often just see the good in people, so it’s really hard for me to process that anyone would see me as less than capable because I’m a woman. I had a female colleague once lean over to me in a meeting and say, “He’s mansplaining you!” I didn’t see it until she called it out, but I also don’t think my male colleague was consciously doing it. Implicit bias is a real thing. I would like to think it isn’t, but since that moment, I always notice when I’m the only female executive in the room and prepare accordingly. I will admit, too, that women aren’t always kind and supportive of one another. Early in my career, my desire to do well at work and my desire to be likeable were constantly at war with one another, and I felt like I always had to prove my worth. That sticks with me even now and feeds some of my biggest insecurities and regrets.  
What advice would you give to the next generation of women leaders?

First, focus on finding your people. It will make all the difference. I had no idea how important this was, and it took me way too long to acknowledge that everyone needs friendship and support. It seems to have happened by accident, but I have on my speed dial some of the most amazing people I could ever imagine existing. Second, be open. I never knew a career in non-profits and a life here in this area would feed my soul, but here I am, blooming where I’m planted and all that. I get to do some of the weirdest and most remarkable things, like meeting Miss America or helping a donor change someone’s life – all because I opened myself up to possibilities. And finally, never ever apologize for being authentic. When I’m really angry, I cry. It’s happened more than once in a professional setting. Try not to apologize for that kind of passion. It’s what makes you good at being you.   
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