Anna Maria Chavez is a Girl Scout in body, soul, mind and spirit. Chavez was raised by migrant farmworkers in Southern Arizona, and through her participation with the Girl Scouts, achieved her dream of becoming a lawyer. Now, the successful attorney serves as the first Latina CEO of the Girl Scouts of America, one of the most iconic leadership organizations in the world. Under Chavez's leadership, more Hispanics girls than ever before have engaged with the organization. In fact, over the last decade, Girl Scouts has increased Latina membership by 55% -- the highest ever.
This Inspiring Latina also oversees the largest girl-led business. Girl Scout Cookie Program is a $770 million business that instills girls with values like goal setting, decision making, money management, business ethnics and communication skills. The cookie program is an educational (and delicious!) exercise for many young women. This weekend is National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend, so support these ambition young women (and their fearless leader) by purchasing a scrumptious box of Thin Mints, Tagalongs, or Samoas.
In honor of her incredible influence, enduring spirit, and dedication to young girls throughout the world, Anna Maria Chavez is this week’s Inspiring Latina!
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I grew up in a small farm town in rural Southern Arizona. One of my best friends came to school one day and said she wanted to be a Girl Scout. And my mother hadn’t been a Girl Scout. My grandmother had not been a Girl Scout, but of course it’s an iconic brand, right? Everybody knows the Girls. And in our language, you know, “Eren las muchachas qui venden las galletas.” You know, “The girls that sold the cookies.” And so I joined – not really realizing the complexity of the organization, but I loved it! I didn’t realize at the time that it was an international organization that provided these amazing opportunities. So, I went to Girl Scout camp by myself, obviously, without my family – first time out of the house without a family member with me. And it was – I guess it was around 11 years old – when I discovered, through Girl Scouting, the importance of the environment and the need to protect the environment. It’s a really different way of thinking about the land. By the age of 12 as a Girl Scout, I decided I wanted to become an attorney to help protect the environment and to help other people. So, literally that’s how I set on a trajectory to become an attorney.
I researched in our local public library that to be a lawyer, you had to obviously pass your high school exams, you had to graduate, you had to get into a four year college, and you had to get into a law school. So, I beat the odds and was able to go to Yale University and then to law school on a fellowship. I loved being a lawyer! And I was able to be a public servant for almost 15 years. I started in 1994 and left the government in 2009. I then become a regional CEO of Girl Scouts in San Antonio, Texas, and was recruited into this role.
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