2010 Women of Influence: Carol Griglione
Saturday, July 31, 2010 7:00 AM
As a child, Carol Griglione didn't have a doll collection. What she did have was a family that fostered in her an appreciation for pets that has evolved into a lifelong love of animals.
Today, the senior administrator and executive adviser of Principal Financial Group Inc.'s law department has seven cats, three quarter horses, two dogs and 10 pet chickens.
She also has an unyielding desire to protect and care for animals, a longing that's been reinforced by her involvement with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL), where she has volunteered since 1992.
"I was hooked from day one," Griglione said of her work at the ARL, which began at the behest of a co-worker and continued as she volunteered alongside her mother at the shelter.
"I had a friend say to me, 'You ought to come,'" Griglione said, noting that Mom was at first a little worried that her daughter might want to adopt every pet at the shelter.
Today, Griglione is spearheading a $10 million fund-raising campaign to pay off the nonprofit organization's new facility, which opened in 2008. She has already reached 85 percent of that goal and hopes to raise the remainder within the next 12 months.
Though she loves the shelter and its inhabitants, Griglione said the experience of seeing abandoned, mistreated and starving animals on a regular basis can sometimes be difficult.
"The hardest thing for me is that I'm generally a happy people person," she said, adding that her experience at ARL has been an eye-opening one. "It's very awakening. You kind of see the worst of human nature, and you see the best."
However, the joy she gets through her animal advocacy, which includes lobbying for legislation aimed at banning dog fighting and outlawing cruelty, far outweighs the pain.
"We've had great response to the legislation and from the community on our animal welfare initiatives," she said. "You meet these wonderful people that are selfless and do wonderful things for animals. It's kind of like a roller coaster. You see a lot more positives than negatives."
The 45-year-old executive also loves her work at Principal and said that after 26 years on the job, she still looks forward to getting up and going there every day. "I love my job, love this company," she said.
Going forward, Griglione intends to continue following her passions while encouraging others to do the same.
"I think it will turn out to be one the best and most fulfilling experiences they will ever have in their entire life," she said of the wags, licks and unconditional love that ARL volunteers can expect to receive. "It is all making a difference for animals."
Griglione, who specializes in studying cat behavior, and her husband, Tom, the ARL's executive director, connected in 1993. They reside with their pets on a 17.5-acre property in Runnells.
"It's a little bit shell-shocking for me," Griglione said of her move from the city of Ankeny to the country about six years ago, noting that she wanted to find a permanent home for her horses in lieu of boarding them.
In her nomination of Griglione, Joan Fletcher, a partner at Dickinson, Mackaman, Tyler & Hagen P.C., had this to say:
"Carol is an extraordinary woman whose tireless work as a volunteer has made a significant impact in the Des Moines area and beyond."
Education: Bachelor's degree in corporate communications from Simpson College, master's degree in public administration from Drake University
Hometown: Des Moines
Family: Husband, Tom
Hobbies: Caring for animals, reading
Words to live by: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Mahatma Gandhi