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Onney C. Crawley, MBA ’99: Marketing a Mission for Goodwill


Throughout her career, marketing executive Onney Crawley, MBA ‘99, has promoted brand messaging to drive visibility and growth. In her current position as chief marketing officer for Goodwill Industries International, Crawley is developing new and innovative ways to build public awareness of this iconic nonprofit’s mission and its impact on communities. 

Building a foundation

Overseeing a major brand’s transformation is a monumental task, and Crawley whose original background is in the sciences credits her time at the Ross School of Business for learning how to tackle such a project.

A good example is the immersive Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) course, in which she helped solve a real-world problem for an automotive supplier. It proved to be an invaluable learning experience for Crawley and one that still guides her.

“My group spent seven weeks working for a supplier for GM. It was myself and three male Wall Street types who, on the surface, I had little in common with. By the end of the project, we had learned so much about each other. It was a real lesson in business for me,” Crawley says. 
“I came to truly understand the value of the work at hand and the importance of knowing and trusting the people you work with. And how that trust is crucial for the success of the project. That lesson continues to resonate with me.”

Marketing a mission

After graduation, Crawley helped drive growth for brands at a series of respected companies, including General Mills, Kellogg, Mars/Wrigley, Sears, and Serta Simmons -- taking on progressively more strategic roles at each company.

I’ve always been a storyteller at heart, and I’m perpetually curious about people. A core element of marketing is understanding the people you are talking to.

 Onney C. Crawley, MBA '99

In February, Crawley took on the new challenge of overseeing marketing for Goodwill Industries International -- working across a network of 156 community organizations offering skills training, job placement, and other services, largely funded by the sale of donated clothing and household items.

The life-changing work Crawley is responsible for at Goodwill requires the type of trust and interpersonal relationships that she experienced back at Michigan Ross. As she notes, “During my two years at Ross, I worked, studied, and celebrated with people from all walks of life to gain formal training in business.”

Now she employs that training to lead her team in advancing Goodwill’s mission, driving customer experience and expanding partnerships with the nonprofit’s corporate stakeholders. 

“As a leader, you want to set an example that inspires others to follow. But if you aren’t empowering them and trusting them with responsibilities, you risk losing the unique creativity and problem-solving they bring to the table, which can result in less engagement that negatively impacts both team culture and business outcomes,” Crawley says. “One of my strengths is my incredible curiosity about what makes people tick. It helps me better understand my team and get amazing collaboration from them. Combine that with a powerful set of shared values as you move toward your business goals, and you can accomplish more than you thought possible.”

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