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One-on-one with the OA’s new associate director

Elisha Valladares-Cormier and Michael French     October 29, 2016     OA Today

How long have you been a member of the Boy Scouts of America?  
I signed up as a Cub Scout in 1984. I’m a third generation Boy Scout and second generation Eagle Scout.

When did you join the Order of the Arrow? What were your first impressions? 
I was called out at summer camp in 1990 at Camp Constantin and completed my Ordeal later that fall at Camp Wisdom. Both camps are located in the Circle Ten Council. My first impression was, “Woah, this is a lot of work!” Once I went through the ceremonies, it really hit home and helped me to understand the service aspect of what the OA is all about.

What was your first role in the Order of the Arrow, and how did you evolve from there?  
My first role in the OA was working on the ceremonies team, primarily as a principal in the Pre-Ordeal Ceremony. It was definitely different, but it cured me of stage fright and speaking in front of groups! After that I became a chapter chief, then a lodge vice chief and then I had the privilege of serving as the lodge chief in Mikanakawa Lodge.

What were some of your notable experiences in the Order of the Arrow as a youth?  
Probably attending the 1994 NOAC and then as a contingent lead at the 1996 NOAC were some of my favorites. In the end, I loved providing service back to my local camps, which we have four here in Dallas. Volunteering to serve others is what Scouting is all about and the OA is one of the vehicles that can help a young person do just that!

Why did you pursue a career in professional Scouting? 
My first job out of college was as an energy analyst which paid very well, but it wasn’t very fulfilling. I realized that I wanted to serve others due to my time as a youth in Scouting, so I signed up for the Navy and qualified to be a Naval Aviator, but during my medical screening I was disqualified to fly due to an allergy to nuts - go figure! When the Navy didn’t work out, my father suggested I apply to work for the BSA. I was blessed to get the job and I haven’t looked back since!

Tell me about the path that led to your current position for the Boy Scouts?  
I started out as a district executive in a two person district in Circle Ten Council (Dallas, TX). I was promoted about six months into the job because there was an opening in a district in the White Rock area of Dallas. I served the White Rock area for two years and was then promoted to a district director in the South Plains Council (Lubbock, TX). Two years and a half years later, I was then promoted to field director in the South Plains Council. I left Lubbock in 2011 to take a promotion as the development director in the East Texas Area Council (Tyler, TX) where I served until January 2014. I then took an opportunity to become an assistant Scout executive in Greensboro, NC with the Old North State Council. I served there until December 2015 when my dream job of working for the Order of the Arrow became available.

How do you plan to start the Order of the Arrow’s second century? 
To do my best to be a resource for local lodges and Arrowmen and provide service for Scouting. I envision the Order continuing to grow and giving young people an opportunity to serve others and their local councils.

How do you plan to help the Order of the Arrow grow as it embarks on its second century of service?  
This is a great question. I plan to offer support and guidance to the youth that I have the honor of working with so far and to continue our tradition of helping to mold young people into servant leaders for Scouting and our communities.
What should Arrowmen be on the lookout for in the near future?  
Definitely be on the lookout for several things! We are offering two new, one-time programs this summer: NEXT: A New Century and Prism. NEXT will take place later this summer at Indiana University and Prism will take place at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, helping to inaugurate the new Summit Circle. In addition to those special programs, Arrowmen should look forward to all of the OA High Adventure programs we offer at the four national high adventure bases (slots are filling up fast), as well as the National Leadership Seminars (NLS) which will be held in each region during the spring and fall. We have some great program coming up and we encourage Arrowmen of all ages to take advantage!

How would you describe the Order of the Arrow in one sentence?  
The OA is the recognition of Scouts and Scouters who live the Scout Oath and Scout Law in their daily lives by providing service, excitement and passion to help Scouting grow on the local, area, regional and national levels.