Fabulous People: Laurie Sliva

Laurie Sliva is the Board President for Girls Rule Foundation, Founder/Director of BRIDGES and also a Facilitator, Trainer & Director for Ignite Nation. Hailing from Flagstaff, Arizona, she is most definitely a Fabulous Person.

First Job: In high school, I worked for my family’s logging company in Flagstaff. I was not only the youngest on the crew but I was also the only female. They would let me drive them out to the woods in the old Ford crew cab where the front bench couldn’t move forward because there was a CB radio mounted to the floor. I was 4’11”, which means I had to sit with a lunch box cooler behind me and use the entire length of my little leg to push the clutch pedal. Working from sun up to sun down, I donned blue jeans, work gloves and a hard hat with my pony tail sticking out the back. I would always come home covered in a layer of dust from head to toe – and these are some of my fondest memories. It taught me the value of hard work, the meaning of dirt under your nails and fostered my love of the outdoors. Best of all, it awakened my entrepreneurial spirit. Seeing the way my dad and grandpa managed their employees and ran a company with integrity and generosity has stayed with me in how I lead my businesses and how I live my life.

Favorite AZ restaurant: Anything with a nice patio – I love dining al fresco! Postino, SumoMaya, and Casa Blanca… I can’t live without chips and salsa!

Person who has impacted your life the most: My dad, who has always been there for me no matter what. He is intelligent, steady, loyal and patient. He raised four strong, intelligent and badass daughters because he believed in us and what we could become…and so we believed girls could do anything!

Your biggest accomplishment in your eyes: Being on the ground floor (nearly 20 years ago) of Ignite for Schools and helping give students a voice, founding and directing BRIDGES Camp for Girls and serving on the board of Girls Rule Foundation all rank high in accomplishments I am proud of. Hands down, as I am sure any parent would say, my biggest accomplishment is being a mom – it’s the best job ever because it’s the most challenging and the most rewarding. Doing my best at raising two little humans to be resilient and empathetic truly makes all the other positive youth development work I do that much more meaningful.

The biggest obstacle you have overcome: I am a courageous recovering perfectionist and have learned that progress is better than perfection. Embracing the messiness of life and being authentic and vulnerable even in the face of failures has been one of my lifelong lessons. Likewise, the movement of generating positive change and preserving the authentic selves of youth is more difficult than ever in today’s high-paced, social media saturated society where teens fear rejection and feel the pressure for unrealistic perfection. In our house and in my businesses, we value courage and connection over perfection.

Someone who inspires you: I love, love, love Brene Brown – shame researcher, author, world changer. Her books on my shelf have more underlines and stars than not, because I think most things she says are quotable. She is brilliant and has impacted the way I lead, teach, parent, love and feel about myself.

Favorite quote: “Go and love someone exactly as they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered.” – Wes Angelozzi
I have seen this happen time and again – with my husband, my son and daughter and with students in schools across the country. You are worthy just as you are.

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: This makes me think of another favorite quote, “You know how every once in while you do something and that little voice inside says, ‘There. That’s it. That’s why you’re here’ and you get a warm glow in your heart because you know it’s true? Do more of that.” – Jacob Nordby
Find what lights you up and go after it. Fight for it. It does not have to be hard, especially if you are doing what you love, but you should expect to work hard for it. Similarly, you don’t have to do it alone. Make courageous connections with other like-minded people and ask for what you need. Find or create your tribe.

What you think makes someone fabulous: Fabulousness is practicing empathy, forgiveness, kindness, gratitude, bravery and the willingness to be uniquely yourself. These are all foundational in self-love and acceptance. Other fabulous qualities: loving deeply, embracing a healthy optimism and belief in possibilities and finding the joy in life.

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