Inspiring Latina Of The Week: Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez

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Awesome! So do you think this would have been possible for you without your background as a Girl Scout as a child?

You know – I think I am very empathetic about different opportunities this organization can give to girls who may not have other avenues. You know, this organization has been such an inclusive, diverse organization. We’re in every zip code in the country and over 90 countries in the world. Were you a Girl Scout when you were growing up? 

I wasn’t! I didn’t really have the opportunity, although I wanted to be one.

Well, interesting you should say that because that’s what we’re embarking on that change. I've heard many women say, “I didn’t have an opportunity to be a Girl Scout” because there wasn’t an adult volunteer to step forward and help support the girls’ leadership journey. And one of the things we’re working on right now is making it easier for adults - both men and women - to volunteer for the organization. So we are, for the first time, creating a digital platform to actually engage adult volunteers in a very different way. And that process started a year and a half ago. We’re already piloting this new technology in some of our local counsels, and that is the wave of the future. We’re going from a very paper-based organization to an organization that, I think, will be more relevant to both girls and to adults.

When people think of the Girl Scouts, the one thing that comes to mind is Girl Scout Cookies. What’s one thing about the organization that you wish the public knew?

Oh, there’s so many, but I think that the main one is – is that this is the premier leadership organization for girls in the world. And it has been the pipeline for leadership training for women in the United States for the past 100 years. And we’ve got the data to show it. A lot of people don’t realize that a great percentage of female leaders in this country are Girl Scouts. Again, if you look at, the spheres of influence – if you look at Congress and at the House and the Senate, more than 50% of the women currently serving in the U.S. House of Representatives are Girl Scouts. And on the Senate side – a huge percentage of women – again, more than 50% of the women serving in the U.S. Senate are Girl Scouts.

And it was interesting if you saw, you know, again, what happened with the government this year – the shut down, they couldn’t come to a compromise on the budget. Well, little known fact is as they were in a huge sort of deadlock around the budget between the parties, there was a group of women who came together to negotiate the proposal that jumpstarted the discussions again and that, ultimately, came out with the fix. Well the women leading that charge are Girl Scout alums – from both sides of the aisle. If you look, again, at governors. Most of the female governors in the United States are Girl Scouts alums. And we recently found out – because we turned 100 years old – we did some research and found that almost 1 in 2 American women were Girl Scouts. They wore the iconic uniform at one time in [their] lives. So we find [there’s] approximately 59 million living alumni out there right now. And that’s a great opportunity, uh, to engage them – not only to volunteer, but to also invest in our girls.

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Cristina Arreola, Associate Editor

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