From Girl Scout to volunteer to staff member of 22 years, few have left quite the mark in the community as Anna Dirl. For decades now, she has seen the impact of Girl Scouting daily, not just for girls but for women.
Dirl joined the staff at the Tanasi Council on Aug. 3, 1998, after she moved to Knoxville from Ohio. In her years on staff, she’s had various roles – in membership and recruitment, program development and customer care. She is now retiring as membership services manager.
“I made a long-term commitment to the organization,” she says, “because I believed in it being the best leadership development program for young women, period. It enables girls and volunteers to find their voice.”
While growing up and in attending the University of Tennessee in the ’70s, she encountered very few women in leadership. Because of that, “impacting and growing new generations of leadership has always been important to me. Girl Scouts has awarded me the opportunity to do that.”
Anna was a Girl Scout until sixth grade when she moved. Later in life, she volunteered for her own daughter’s troop, having seen the value in the program. She has vivid memories of those early Girl Scout days, reminiscing she can still taste the bacon cooked over an open fire during her first overnight camping trip at Camp Tanasi. Now she has several granddaughters in Girl Scouts – marking three generations and counting.
With years of special memories, one stands out for Anna in displaying the power and impact of the Girl Scout movement. During a bridging ceremony at World’s Fair Park, “all you could see was a sea of girls in uniforms and flags. I think I ruined my scarf I had because I didn’t have Kleenex! I realized that I’m a part of something much bigger than me.”
2020 has brought a globally unique and challenging season – the COVID-19 pandemic. Anna believes that it has shown that this organization has resilience and strength.
“Continuing to deliver strong programming to girls, it gives you a good feeling. … Girl Scouts are creative, innovative, and can rise to the challenge. Life is a challenge, but in Girl Scouts you learn to face them with confidence and not fear.”
As Anna Dirl enters her retirement, she has seen that there are no limits or barriers to what anyone can achieve, and that learning is a lifetime process. She’s excited to travel to see her grandchildren, sleep in, and develop her favorite hobbies like knitting while trying something new – starting with piano, gaming theory and her family history. And she certainly won’t stop serving her community and empowering women wherever she can.
As a mother, daughter, friend, volunteer, Girl Scout, and more, she has and will continue to make a difference – one girl at a time.
Brooke Conner is social media and content coordinator for Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians.