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April 9, 2018
Female Influencers Spring 2018: Marnie Conley
Marnie Conley’s path to her current position as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Longwood Gardens brought her across the state and through work in several fields, including teaching, human service, arts, culture, and tourism, and volunteering. “Every step,” she says, “brought me closer to what I do today. I feel incredibly fortunate to get to market one of the great gardens of the world … right here in Kennett Square!”
Conley was an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University and working as a very part-time marketing consultant when a mentor encouraged her to get back into the field. She couldn’t imagine going back full-time—or leaving her native Pittsburgh. Then she interviewed at Longwood Gardens. “I fell in love with the place, the people, and the community almost immediately,” she says.
Like many women, Conley juggles career and family responsibilities. A friend once asked her how she “does it all.” “After I stopped laughing,” she says, “I explained that ‘I do what I can.’” It’s important, she says, for women to let their guard down and be there to support each other. Everyone struggles, even though someone’s outward appearance might suggest otherwise.
She’s grateful for the amazing culture at Longwood, which encourages staff to support other organizations and serve their communities. Conley dedicates her time and expertise to various initiatives, including America’s Garden Capital, Seed Your Future, Historic Kennett Square, and the Chester County Economic Development Council. Opportunities for growth for Conley include a personal commitment to staying in the present and professional goals to further her education and deepen her expertise. “In my field, marketing principles are foundational,” she says, “but how you make it all happen changes rapidly.”
In Kennett Square, Conley says she’s delighted to find “a wildly supportive, driven, and creative community of women.” She’s seen great role models here over the years, “opening doors (literally and figuratively) for one another. I’ve seen businesses change and expand, causes crystalize, and perceptions about our town positively shift because of the women (and men) who are nurturing our community’s future while honoring what’s been done in the past.”
If she could speak to her younger self, Conley says, she’d have simple thoughts to share. “Let it go and move forward. Exercise grace. Recognize your intentions. And, project confidence. You are perfectly imperfect just the way you are.” And how does she want to be remembered? “Legacy to me is about creating a lifelong path to be honored and remembered through action. If someone remembers me, I hope they’re smiling, being kind, and giving of themselves when no one is watching.”