April 8, 2016

Shirley Brunelli, Loveland Elks Lodge 1051

2016 Women of Distinction - Exceptional Volunteer

As the second woman ever to achieve the position of exalted ruler of the Loveland Elks Lodge, Shirley Brunelli has put a lot of time into paving the way for women to be recognized.

Referring to the national fraternal organization as “historically a ‘men’s only’ club for over 100 years,” Debbie Davis, who is a member of the lodge, credits Brunelli with working hard to achieve the respect and acceptance she now has.

“She was able to break through many barriers and paved the way for other female members to become more involved with leadership,” Davis said. “This has been a huge accomplishment over the past several years, as changing the culture of such a longstanding organization is not an easy task.”


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Brunelli’s method has been simple: perseverance and respect.

“It’s important to keep driving, but also important to not step on anyone’s toes,” she said. “Just show people what you have to offer.”

Remembering a greater goal also rates high on Brunelli’s list of things to do to be recognized as a leader.

“When you have lots of members — 600, in this case — and you’re trying to make everyone happy, it’s important to remember to forge ahead, do the best for the betterment of the lodge and accept the criticism that will come with it,” she said. “When someone is unhappy with me, I try to sit down and explain why I’ve done something so they don’t think my motives are selfish.”

Davis described Brunelli as an advocate for gratitude and team building.

“She has a special way to make other members feel like family,” Davis said. “She was able to get them involved in many tasks at the lodge and with committees serving the community such as the annual children’s Christmas party, drug-awareness programs, active-duty troop support and veteran needs.”

Brunelli relies on her ability to make tasks personal as part of her success.

“I make a point of finding out what people are interested in and asking them if they could help even if it’s just for 30 minutes,” she said. “Basically, you have to ask rather than wait for people to come to you, Then you need to tell them what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what it’s for.”

According to Davis, one way Brunelli has risen to the top is by rolling up her sleeves and pitching in where needed.

“Shirley was determined to be a significant part of the lodge, and she worked very hard on the local, district and state levels by volunteering for several committees and events to prove her worth to her male counterparts,” Davis said. “It was not beyond her to scrub floors, cook, bus and wait dinner tables, ask for donations, sell raffle tickets, skin hides to make gloves for veterans, bartend, organize events, lead meetings or do absolutely anything that needed to be done to facilitate a charitable organization.”

Davis referred to the title of exalted ruler as being synonymous with the title of chief executive.

 “Shirley proved herself to be hardworking, ethical and trustworthy to assume the responsibility and honor of this esteemed position — and won the votes to achieve it.”

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