A Lutheran pastor in Virginia, a land development engineer in North Carolina and a fitness-focused Instagram influencer based in Brooklyn, N.Y.
One common thread connects each of these three women — and six others with similar success stories.
All of them got their start in Venturing as members of Crew 1886 of the Washington, D.C.-based National Capital Area Council. The crew formed in 2002, when the Venturing program was just 4 years old.
Distinguished Eagle Scout Michael Pocalyko, Catherine Pressler and Sue Graff created the all-girl crew. Pocalyko’s daughter had an older brother who had just become an Eagle Scout. Pressler’s daughter had two brothers about to make Eagle.
Seventeen years before the BSA began welcoming girls into all of its programs, Pocalyko and Pressler chose Venturing as a way for their 14-year-old girls to experience Scouting.
“Catherine and I started this unit with an experiment in mind,” Pocalyko says. “It was absolutely a conceptual precursor to Scouts BSA, although we didn’t have any way of knowing that at the time.”
Pocalyko helped me track down each of the nine members of Crew 1886 to find out what they’ve done since their time in Venturing. Learn a little about each of these women — now 30 or 31 — below.
That’s Crew 1886 pictured above at the BSA’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in 2006. The young women were 18 at the time and were volunteering at the Venturing booth to explain the program’s benefits to attendees.
The man pictured with them has found his own success since that photo was taken. It’s Al Lambert, then the Scout Executive of the National Capital Area Council and now the BSA’s Assistant Chief Scout Executive and National Director of Outdoor Adventures.
Crew 1886 developed an impressive reputation in the Washington and northern Virginia areas. They worked at camporees, volunteered at day camps and sold truckloads of Scout popcorn.
All nine of them earned the Venturing Ranger Award and Venturing Silver Award — then the highest award in Venturing. (Today, it’s the Summit Award.)
In 2004, the members of Crew 1886 participated in a Philmont Cavalcade trek — similar to a traditional Philmont trek but on horses instead of on foot.
It’s believed that this was the first all-female expedition in Philmont history.
All members of the crew — participants, adult leaders and Philmont staff — were women. They even made their own patch to commemorate the occasion.
… and now
Seeing what these women accomplished after their time in Scouting is inspiring. It’s also a reminder to anyone who volunteers their time to Scouting that what you do matters.
You’re helping shape the future leaders of tomorrow with every minute of time you spend with a pack, troop, ship or crew. Here’s proof.
Diana Brown Howell, P.E. earned two degrees at Virginia Tech: a bachelor’s in civil engineering and a master’s in environmental and water resources engineering. She then got licensed as a professional engineer and is now a land development engineer and project manager at Kimley-Horn. That’s the national planning and design engineering consulting firm, in Raleigh, N.C.
Melissa Duvall Lukas graduated from Florida State with a bachelor’s in entrepreneurship and small business management. She worked in sales, account management, public school administration, real estate and financial services. She now lives in Sarasota, Fla., where she is a residential appraisal coordinator at IBERIABANK, the major Southern regional bank and financial holding company.
Nichole Graff Thomas earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education at Christopher Newport University. She returned to northern Virginia as technology resource teacher at Liberty Elementary School in Loudoun County. A passionate advocate for STEM education, she was named 2017 Teacher of the Year by the Virginia Society for Technology in Education. She tweets about tech as @MrsThomasTRT.
Lauren Jones Cleaver earned her bachelor’s in computer science at James Madison University. She worked in information systems design, health care systems administration, and information technology for the Department of Health and Human Services. She lives in northern Virginia and is now a consultant in the IT practice of Deloitte, the multinational professional services firm.
Leigh Lotocki graduated from Ohio State and the Bates Dance Festival Professional Training Program. She trained and performed as a modern and experimental dancer, became a choreographer and performance artist, and now lives in Queens, N.Y., where she is a multidisciplinary artist specializing in event production and performing arts management.
Elissa Marshall earned her bachelor’s degree in dance and photojournalism at the University of Texas in Austin. She was a ballet dancer and professional photographer in New York, lived and taught in Cartagena, Colombia, and is now based in Brooklyn as an educator in lululemon’s studio space. She is a famous Instagram Influencer in Vinyasa yoga and women’s fitness fashion. Follow her @Gesticulate.
Erica Lee Notarangelo Reichard received her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from the State University of New York at Cortland. She now teaches second grade in rural Chenango County, N.Y.
The Rev. Kathryn Pocalyko was a U.S. Senate page, graduated from Princeton and earned her Master of Divinity degree at Yale Divinity School. She was ordained a pastor and called to the Lutheran Church of Our Saviour in North Chesterfield, Va. She is now Dean of the Richmond Conference, Virginia Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her podcast on iTunes is “Lutherans Uncut.”
Lindsay Ward earned a Bachelor of Science in Forest Resources from the University of Georgia, where she trained in the Georgia Outdoor Recreation Program. She joined Outward Bound, where she taught and guided from Florida to the Blue Ridge Mountains to Patagonia, became a lead instructor, and is now program director for the North Carolina Outward Bound School at Cedar Rock Base Camp in Asheville.