A true visionary, Jean Treuthart led the expansion of Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) in York and is now at the helm of the historic and impactful YWCA York. I’ve admired her for more than a decade - often as the only female executive around the board table, juggling all the things we female mamas and bosses do, in her authentic, unapologetic way. When she made a major career shift four years ago, she both shocked and inspired me. At that point, she was synonymous with HACC - York. Her big change encouraged me to pause and reflect. I wish you all a Jean in your life.
YWCA York just had an intriguing event called Lessons from My Daughter, I thought it be a perfect jumping off point to get to know her a bit better.
“The only way out is through.”
Q: Why does these words speak to you?
A: I may be paraphrasing the quote a bit, but this is how I apply it in my life. This quote has been credited to Helen Keller, and some others, and it speaks to the fact that there are no shortcuts. I think back to some really difficult times and at some point I’ve had to decide to either push through or surrender and be carried through. There is always a “through” which for me is where the lesson lies.
Q: What bit of wisdom have you gained in this chapter of motherhood?
A: My daughter recently turned 40 which has been a great time of reflection for both of us. I feel as though I’ve transitioned from being her manager to being a consultant! I’m proud of her accomplishments because they are truly hers. I’m still here when she needs me, but the role has less pressure to it than it had during other phases of her life.
Q: Share with us one of your first attempts at leadership as a child.
A: I was the oldest in our group of kids in the neighborhood so I got to be bossy right from the start. I was the teacher when we played school and the director of our theater productions. That was due in part to being the oldest in our little group, but I have to say that I took to that role pretty easily.
Q: What are you working to calmly accept?
A: I still struggle with finding balance in my life. I have a self-care practice, I even teach this and yet I still let the stress creep up from time to time before I take time for myself. Then I get a bit frustrated with myself. I think it really is just like exercise or eating right—you have to have discipline and schedule the time to renew yourself. It also helps to frame stress in a healthier way. I really enjoyed Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk on “How to Make Stress Your Friend.”
Q: As a student of life, what are most excited to learn about right now?
A: Part of our strategic plan at YWCA York is to infuse mindfulness across the organization. We’re in our second year and this has presented some intriguing opportunities to learn and grow. Our leadership has learned about Emotional Intelligence and next we’re layering that with the StrengthsFinder tools. Mindfulness has many meanings, but right now we’re looking at the way it can build resiliency and sharpen mental focus. We have just started taking this training to companies and organizations which is really exciting for us. We love to share what we’ve been learning.
Q: For women who are thinking about making a leap into an unknown (parenthood, entrepreneurship, a new career field, etc.), what advice would you give them?
A: There is nothing scarier than the concept of “daring to go forward, not knowing.” The “not knowing” part—navigating uncertainty—is often what stops us and yet that’s often where the magic comes in. Some of my best life experiences have been when I had opportunities to create something from nothing. At the same time I’m a big fan of calculated risks. I see myself as an entrepreneur, but on somebody’s else dime. I don’t think I have the courage to put my own money on the line, quite honestly. Know what you’re good at and build from there.
A Brief Bio...
Jean is in her fifth year as the CEO of YWCA York. Prior to this she was the Campus Vice President at HACC York. She has served on many community and nonprofit boards and is a popular speaker on issues related to gender equity and women’s leadership. In 2017, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Central Penn Business Journal's Women of Influence event. Jean's daughter, Lauren, is an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles and also a certified yoga instructor. In November they took a trip to the Grand Canyon in celebration of Lauren's milestone 40th birthday.