It was a perfect choice for the Girl Scout of West Central Florida to make when time came to pick a new leader: one of their own.
Jessica Muroff is a former GSWCF member herself and now the mother of two little girls. In both her roles as mother and Chief Executive Officer of GSWCF, Muroff is poised to fulfil what she considers the most important task facing society today: investing in young girls.
“Today’s generation of girls faces unparalleled opportunities, but also historic challenges,” says Muroff. “It falls to us, as women (and men!), to serve as mentors, role models, and guides, and to support them in their journey—for if there is one thing we can be sure of, it’s that in our modern global economy we are going to need to harness the full potential of both men and women in order for us to succeed.”
A University of South Florida grad with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication (with a minor in international studies) and a master’s degree in English education, Muroff worked in marketing and sales for companies such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Raymond James before starting her nonprofit career as CEO of Frameworks of Tampa Bay, an organization dedicated to developing the social and emotional skills of youth.
Today, Muroff serves on the board of directors of the Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay, Executive Committee of USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy, and the CEO Council of Tampa Bay. She is a founding member and co-chair of Emerge Tampa, and writes a blog calledwww.bepresentproject.com. She has been awarded Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Young Business Woman of the Year of 2005, Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Up & Comers Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Emerging Leader Award in 2014.
Muroff is married to architect Michael Muroff and is the mom of two daughters, Danica and Alexandra, ages 10 and 7.
What do you think is the secret to your family’s success?
As a family, we are committed to enjoying each other and spending time together. Like many families, we have a full plate—work, school, after-school activities, community commitments—but at the end of the day, we know our family time is important. We try to eat dinner together every night (it is never perfect). The one ritual we have at dinner each night is that we always start by asking the question, “What are you grateful for?” It is my favorite tradition that instills happiness, hopefulness, and perspective in my family.
Another one of my favorite traditions is Sunday Night Dinner. I’ve been enjoying Sunday dinners with my sister and her family for more than six years now. This time spent with family (and cousins having so much fun together!) is the best part of my week.
What is your biggest fear?
I’m a bit of a fearless person, so this is a tough question for me! I have to say that I didn’t really know worry until I have my children. I’ve been told that worry never goes away, even when they grow old. My biggest fear is that time moves way too fast and one day, very soon, I will wish that I could experience these magical years all over again. This is why I choose to be present. I know the best gift I can give my girls is my love and presence.
What advice would you give to other women?
Be present – This is my commitment in life. I am abundantly blessed and I want to enjoy each and every moment, even the challenging moments. I try my best to be present so that I can make each day a story worth telling and learn from my actions and habits each day. This means putting away my phone when I’m with loved ones or in important meetings. It is so important to disconnect for longer periods of time just to give my brain a break from social media and email.
What is your proudest moment?
My proudest moment is when my girls saved their money and decided to donate their savings (mostly coins) to Metropolitan Ministries. They donated $25 and we matched their gift so that a total of $50 was donated. The Metropolitan Ministries team treated their gift like a big donation. They gave the girls a tour and helped them see exactly what their gift would do. I was so proud of their generous hearts and how much they want to help and give to others.
What is your biggest achievement?
My best decision I made: choosing to leave my for-profit job to begin my nonprofit career. I knew that in order to be fulfilled in my career that my job had to have a community impact. Being selected to lead the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida has been my biggest achievement to date. I have an incredibly exciting job—every day, I get to work with girls to help them tap into their leadership abilities and gain the courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place.
What makes you happy?
There are so many things that make me happy; it is hard to keep this answer short! My girls are a great source of happiness and laughter for me. My entire family is incredible. So many of my family lives close and that makes me happy; our family gatherings are quite large and fun!
What makes me the happiest is knowing that my work each and every day is helping to develop and grow the leadership potential of girls. This starts in my house with my own daughters, but I feel so fortunate to lead an organization dedicated to this movement, the Girl Scouts. My daughters now make three generations of Girl Scouts in my family!
How do you relax and take time for yourself?
I love pushing myself with my fitness. Boxing, Pilates, and my aerial silks classes are some of my favorite ways to take time for myself.
I also love to cook and bake. I cook dinner for my family nearly every night and it is my favorite way to unwind at the end of the day. I also love to bake cakes, all kinds. The more elaborate and challenging, the more excited I get.
What kind of message would you like to give women in the area or in this community?
My message: the importance of investing the future of girls. I believe there isn’t much that is more important for the future of our community, of our society, than investing in our girls. At Girl Scouts we’re driving to transform the future leadership landscape, and produce the greatest return on economic development and social progress, by investing in girls.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids in Tampa Bay?
I think Tampa is one of the best places in this country to raise a family. We have so many options of things to do with our kids that nearly every weekend could be filled! My favorite thing to do with my kids is one of two things: visiting my mom’s farm in Plant City where my girls can ride horses and interact with all of her animals (reminds me of how I grew up) or taking them to the beach for a day. We LOVE collecting shells and building sandcastles.
What is your biggest inspiration or role model?
The future of girls is my inspiration. I learn daily about what girls in our council are doing for their communities and [how they are] growing their leadership skills. It makes me so happy to know we are growing the leaders of tomorrow.