Girl Scouts USA Appoints First Latina Leader

The Girl Scouts of the United States of America has appointed its first Latina leader. Mexican American Anna Maria Chávez, who is from San Antonio, Texas, has been named the nonprofit organization’s chief executive officer! Chávez, who is the Girl Scouts' 19th national leader, will be transitioning to the organization’s New York headquarters over the next several months.

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“I’m ecstatic and overwhelmed by this historic opportunity,” Chávez told San Antonio Express-News. “I truly understand the significance of my appointment.” And what a significance it is! According to the news website, Hispanic membership within the Girl Scouts organization increased 55 percent from 2000 to 2010. Jackie Gorman-Johnson, who serves as the board chairwoman of the organization’s Southwest Texas Council, described the newly appointed CEO leader as the “new face of the Girl Scouts."

“She is who we are,” Gorman-Johnson explained. “The demographics of our country are changing, and for the first time, we’ll have a woman of color leading the organization. I’m excited.”

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A graduate of Yale University and the University of Arizona College of Law, Chávez was a Girl Scout herself in Arizona, where she grew up. She once worked as deputy chief of staff for urban relations and community development for former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, who is now the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

The Girl Scouts of the United States of America, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, has 3.2 millions members. It has been reordering itself recently from more than 300 councils nationwide to a little over 100 “high-capacity councils.” Chávez said she was proud to say that Latinas represent the diversity of her council, which stretches from the border of Mexico halfway to Austin. 

The organization will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year. Patricia Diaz Dennis, who was the first Latina to serve as national board chairwoman of Girl Scouts USA, described Chávez as a “terrific role model for all American girls, but especially for Latinas.” “You can’t dream big unless you are exposed to it,” she said. “This shows Latina girls that you, too, can achieve this.”