Girl Scouts CEO Excited About Growing Hispanic Membership, Targets Future Leaders
News Scouting the next generation of leaders, particularly female leaders, is first priority for Girl Scouts CEO Anna Marie Chavez.
What impact did being a member of the Girl Scouts have on your growing up to become a leader?
Girl Scouting changed my life. It was the first time I was able to go away to camp without my family. That experience by itself really opened my eyes and showed me that there was an entire world outside of Eloy, Arizona, that I was eager to explore. Because of the confidence I gained through my Girl Scout activities, I wasn’t afraid to attend Yale University and ulti- mately achieve my childhood dream of becoming a lawyer.
What was your experience as a Girl Scout during a time when not many hispanic girls were involved in the organization?
I grew up in a very welcoming community. Growing up, the girls in my troop were focused on our friendships and the opportunities Girl Scouting provided. We discovered new adventures together, and appreciated each other’s differences.
How do you plan to use your position to serve as a role model?
I always aim to be an ethical leader,and lead the team to focus on what’s best for our girls and their growth and development.
You’ve now rejoined the Girl Scout community at a time when there is a growth of hispanics among its membership. Why do you think this change has come about?
Diversity and inclusion has always been a core value of Girl Scouts. As a movement, we have worked to increase outreach to the Hispanic communities by making programs accessible and culturally relevant and recruiting bilingual staff. As more families come to understand that Girl Scouting is more than cookies and camping, but the premier leadership organization for girls, they realize that they want what our organization offers for their daughters.
How formative are youth organizations such as GSUA to the growth of today’s youth – especially hispanic youth?
All families want the same positive experience for their children, and youth organizations like Girl Scouts provide opportunities for girls and families to explore and learn together. As the world changes and gets smaller because of advances in technology, today’s youth will need to know how to work together to solve global issues and understand the importance of helping other people even if they live on another continent because we are all connected. The more children who can learn these critical skills through youth organizations like Girl Scouts, the better. Because of the large number of Hispanic youth in our country,they will be at the forefront of those life-changing opportunities.
What message would you like to give to today’s hispanic youth?
I want all youth – and girls in particular – to understand that anything is possible as long as you study hard, give back to the community, and stay positive when obstacles get in the way. I also want today’s girls to always remember that they are role models for other students so they should always exemplify the positive qualities that they would like to see in others.