By Alison Bailin Batz

Troon resident Teri Twarkins Kelley is a Girl Scout from way back.

“I started with my Brownie troop in second grade, and the courage, confidence and character I learned at that young age transformed my life. With these ‘Three Cs,’ I knew I could do anything,” said Kelley, who would earn the Girl Scout Silver Award – their second highest honor—before she left for college.

Once in college, her belief that she could do anything only strengthened as she ran Division 1 track and cross country for the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“Two-a-day workouts and year-round competitions made the college experience very full,” said Kelley, who earned a degree in communications when she wasn’t busy running laps.

After school, Kelley had the courage not many people have in their early 20s – moving across the country, from her home in the South to Arizona. And doing so based simply on a book.

“As a little girl I read a book about a girl who lived in this cool town called Tucson, a city no one in the Southeast really knew at that time, save for perhaps college basketball,” Kelley explains. “So when I graduated, I contacted a friend from Arizona State University I had met in college, who helped me make Arizona my home.”

Once she made her way to Arizona, she would embark on her next chapter.

“I got my start in public relations and marketing, and then eventually moved on to marketing and finance. After I earned my MBA at ASU in the early 2000s, I jumped in head first with a complete career change,” said Kelley, who became a financial advisor for then-Smith Barney, now Morgan Stanley.

And she didn’t just become a run-of-the-mill advisor – she worked her way up to senior vice president, and now serves as a corporate retirement plan director. Kelley also dipped her toes back into Girl Scouting, volunteering as a troop leader in the local Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC), which serves more than 20,000 girls in grades K-12 in the region.

“As I tend to do – both literally and figuratively – I took the volunteer position and ran with it, eventually joining the council’s board of directors in 2008,” said Kelley. She would also get back into actually running that same year after being diagnosed with osteopenia, a type of bone deterioration that is the precursor to osteoporosis. “But I wasn’t about to let the diagnosis stop me from any of my new passions.”

About 18 months after her diagnosis, Kelley completed her first Ironman, which included a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run. This race, which helped her stave off the symptoms of the osteopenia, led to four more such competitions over the next three years, including participating in World Championship Ironman in Hawaii in 2011.

So, after all this, Kelley must have been satisfied – and ready to take a break?

Not by a longshot.

In the years since, in fact, she’s made this community her home, started a family and helped GSACPC complete its Campaign for Girls in Arizona, an $18-million fundraising campaign to significantly expand and enhance the Girl Scout experience for more girls, culminating in the building and opening of The Bob and Renee Parsons Leadership Center for Girls and Women at Camp South Mountain in 2017, just as she took on the role of GSACPC board chair.

“Today, I am dividing my time between being a mom, my career and our newest Girl Scout project, called Badge Bash, an ‘un-gala’ of sorts where guests bring their own ‘troop’ of friends to The Parsons Leadership Center to test their skills at earning fun badges and patches, as well as enjoy a night of food, drinks and entertainment,” said Kelley. “This November 2 will mark just our second year undertaking Badge Bash, and we are hopeful the entire community will come out in support.”

Kelley also notes that a big part of her work on behalf of GSACPC, in addition to Badge Bash, is spreading the word about the power of Girl Scouting, and how the girl-led, girl-centered leadership experience helps girls empower themselves to become G.I.R.L.s.

“That stands for Go-Getters, Innovators, Risk Takers and Leaders,” says Kelley. “That, at its core, is what we are all about.”

For more information about Girl Scouts or Badge Bash, please visit