Posted by John Steckler
As professionals, whether we are in the Non-Profit or the For-Profit field, many of us ask ourselves a similar question:
I know when my career started, but when does it end? Does it end when I retire? For many of us, the answer is, no.
Our Spotlight Member of the Month for October is a great example of a professional whose career defiantly did not stop when she retired and in fact, it flourished. Her name is Laurie Black and Laurie is categorized as an Achiever member of 0 to 5 years.  As a relatively new member, she is a great example of the type of new member we want to attract to join our club as we grow for the future. Let me tell you, her story.
Laurie was born in Portland Oregon. She is the oldest of three children with two brothers, David and Neil.  Now, what kind of girl was she in high school?  She was that popular girl we all knew;
she was a cheerleader; she was on the yearbook team and in fact, was in a bunch of clubs. She loved clothes and was a true clothes horse always dressed to perfection. Yes, of course, she was voted Best Dressed in her senior poll.  The interesting thing about Laurie is that she is a very artistic and visual person, yet math was her best subject in school showing a strong analytical side. This is a very strong combination.
Laurie enrolled in the University of Washington to pursue a degree in Fashion Design. Her freshman year she meet her future husband. Husky football player and star, Stafford Mays. They had a long-term romance as Stafford went to play pro ball for nine years and Laurie finished college and pursued her career. 
Laurie wanted to design clothes, so she needed to work in retail to meet with customers and understand their needs. After graduating in June, she immediately went to work at Nordstrom on the sales floor, and 2 months later her boss left, and she got promoted.  Which began a series of Getting Promoted, Getting Promoted, and Getting Promoted at Nordstrom.
She was sent to California to assist in opening stores there and eventually came back to Seattle as a buyer, (great job), and then she became a merchandiser and all the buyers reported to her.
Finally, at the ripe old age of 23, (can you believe it), she became the store manager for the Alderwood Mall Nordstrom’s and led them to their first million-dollar day in sales. One year later she became one of the youngest General Merchandise Managers for Nordstrom. Her peers were about 20 years older than her.
About 15 years later she got a call from a guy named Blake Nordstrom who asked her to become the president of the Nordstrom Rack.  Now don’t get too excited here.  Remember when the Rack first opened and we were all excited about getting Nordstrom stuff there at a reduced price, and then they started stocking some real junk and we all got disillusioned and stopped shopping there?  That’s when they asked Laurie to be President. No problem. She knew the mission, Get the customer! Fix the product mix and give them what they want.  During her tenure at the Rack, Laurie took the 50 Rack stores from $500 million in sales to over $1,000,000,000 in sales - 100% same-store growth. Wall Street loves this stuff.
Now while Laurie was saving the world for all things Nordstrom, she and Stafford found time to get married, and this year, they will celebrate 35 years of marriage.  They have two sons, Taylor, who is a football coach at USC, and Parker who works in Hollywood as a production manager.  Stafford and Laurie are super proud of their son’s achievements. 
Laurie was at the Rack for 7 years until she came back to the flagship store to become the head of cosmetics for the next 8 years until she retired. Although she had retired from Nordstrom, Blake Nordstrom did not want to let Laurie go. He insisted on introducing her throughout the community to several nonprofits doing great work in the city.  Laurie spent the next 5 years volunteering on numerous community projects.  Then, her close friend Tom Herche (Long time Rotarian) who was on the Boys and Girls Club board approached her to become an interim CEO.  While the mission was strong and impactful in the community, the operational side of the organization needed improvement. 
At Nordstrom, EVERYTHING is about the people, (customer AND employees). That focus is what has kept them successful and growing all these years.
At the Boys and Girls Club, Laurie wanted that same focus and she worked with her team to articulate and achieve the club's mission in an operationally successful: 
To inspire and enable all young people, especially those that are the most in need, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible, and daring citizens. 
From Nordstrom, Laurie learned to stay close to the customer and those serving the customer. At the BGC this was her same focus - to be close to what matters most. The BGC team and the youth and their families. 
A true hands-on CEO, Laurie can be found helping out and engaging with the children.
In May of this year, the Nordstrom family came to Laurie’s office to recognize her for all her contributions by awarding her the Blake Nordstrom Humanitarian Award. She is humbled and even somewhat embarrassed by the award but in many people’s eyes, very much deserving.
About a year ago, our very own fellow Seattle Four Rotarian, Patrick Carter brought Laurie to our club and sponsored her for membership, we thank her very much.
Today, Laurie is a full-time hands-on CEO for the 34 Boys and Girls Clubs that continue to meet the needs of our youth and provide that safe place for ALL children to grow up.
So, in summary, for all you pre-retired Rotarians out there.  Be prepared. Just because you retire, it doesn’t mean your career is over, in fact, you may be getting ready to launch into the most rewarding time in your life.
Just like our October Spotlight member of the month, Laurie Black, classification, Human and Community Services!
Please join me in congratulating Laurie.
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