SURVIVE: How to Run a Sustainable Team without Losing Your Mind

Elise Cronin-Hurley and Wendy Austin: Team 1902, 4-H Exploding Bacon Robotics


Much like a robot, running a youth development organization involves a lot of effectively moving parts. Whether you are a veteran or rookie mentor, in this workshop you will discover practical tips for building sustainable systems and improve your team’s efficiency in areas like organizational, communications, and finance. Wendy and Elise have served in leadership and volunteer roles with FIRST teams and competitions since 2006 and come with years of practical team leadership experience from all levels of FIRST. They will share relatable challenges and solutions implemented to make their leadership experiences more sustainable. Teams face a lot of challenges, this workshop provides approaches, not specific ‘one fits all solutions’, to take back and start to evaluate your own team’s challenges and opportunities and create specific goals for your team. Presented at FIRST Championship in conjunction with the THRIVE workshop in two full and very well received 45 minute sessions.


Elise has been privileged to both inherit and pass along leadership of a thriving FIRST Robotics Competition team and navigate the ever growing challenges and opportunities required to manage today’s youth development organizations. Dedicated hands-on volunteer experience mentoring and managing a year round team and decades consulting non-profits on communications and organization.

  • 4-H Exploding Bacon Team 1902, 2011- to current
  • Imagery, Outreach & Awards mentor, since 2011
  • Team Lead, 2016-2019
  • FIRST LEGO League, FIRST TECH Challenge & FIRST Robotics Competition event volunteer & judge since 2012.
  • Orlando and Tallahassee Regional Planning Committees, Website, Graphics, & Communications
  • FIRST Hall of Fame, Communications, 2020 – current


  • Extensive history of youth organization development: church youth leader, Girl Scout leader, PTA President and more.
  • 4-H Exploding Bacon Team 1902, leadership 2006-2013 (an original Bacon mentor)
  • Gra-V Robotics Team 5816, an original team mentor
  • FIRST Regional Director North & Central Florida, current
  • FIRST: numerous roles as a volunteer and judge at competitions; volunteer, events and outreach, since 2006


  • Starting a Team (Rookie and Novice)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)


  • Marketing
  • Team Organization