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Aug. 31, 2015
Dear GSGLA Girl Scouts & Volunteers,
I am writing today about transition. After 17 years of staff service and 13 years before that as a troop leader and Girl Scout Gold Award mom, Shannon Johnston—our chief mission delivery officer—is retiring. We will miss Shannon’s gracious and calm demeanor, her quiet optimism, and her deep love for our Girl Scout Movement. Her last day at GSGLA is Sept. 11.
As our chief mission delivery officer (CMDO), Shannon is charged with overseeing our member services (girl and volunteer support), programs, and our retail and product sales initiatives. Prior to that, she served as the CEO of the Greater Long Beach legacy council.
No matter how you worked with Shannon, closely or from afar, over a shorter or longer period of time, you know Shannon is a woman that we will not easily or quickly forget. Shannon is a special leader—she always finds the best in people and she regularly demonstrates her deep respect for all who are associated with our organization: volunteers, staff, board, alumnae, and especially girls. She reminds us every day why we are here. And she is always the first to say to all of us: “Thanks for all you do.”
I regularly observe her light up when she is with our girls. It’s like she has 40,000 daughters. But, in fact, Shannon has one daughter: a Gold Award Girl Scout.
Shannon promises to stay in touch, and is already signed up for our Family Fit Fair on Oct. 17! Shannon, we wish you all the best. We will never forget you and your three decades of service to the girls to whom you’ve dedicated your career.
Transitions bring changes, and so I am delighted to also introduce you to Sherry Sybesma as the interim CMDO who arrived in LA this week from Texas and will be with us for two months helping us bridge the gap until we have a permanent CMDO. Sherry has a strong and distinguished history of council CEO leadership, having served in both a permanent role in Texas and more recently as the interim CEO of our sister council to the northwest, Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast. She has also served as an executive of ABC Bakers, the “other” baker to our own Little Brownie Baker. This should come in handy as we train for cookie season! Please welcome Sherry who will be making it around to all the service centers this week with Shannon. I know you will enjoy getting to know her.
Looking ahead, we are closing in on our search for a permanent CMDO with three candidates on our finalist list. I look forward to extending an offer by Sept. 11, with the candidate of choice starting by the end of October or early November. While this feels like a lot of change, I want to thank and recognize the entire mission delivery staff and all of our volunteers for all you are doing to push forward to our upcoming new membership year. I’m so proud that we are a council that is weathering the national membership decline and holding our own. And I’m looking forward to great things ahead! Thank you all!
Yours in Girl Scouting,
March 12, 2015
Girl. Scout. Impact.
Today we celebrate our Girl Scout anniversary and 103 years of leadership development. It’s awesome, awe-inspiring, and amazing to think about all the ways that Girl Scouts has impacted the millions of lives it has touched in a century.
When you talk to a Girl Scout, you see how she lights up when she shows you her favorite badge, tells you about her troop’s latest camping experience, or describes the new friends she’s made. You recognize the impact of sisterhood and mentorship. You feel the difference that the organization brings to her life.
When you meet a Girl Scout parent, you hear about the importance of the building blocks of success that Girl Scouts provides their daughter: leadership opportunities, business acumen, and life skills. You hear about the service she provides in her community, not because it’s a required school project but because she cares and wants to make a difference in her world. You get a glimpse into how courage, confidence, and character have shown up in their girl.
When you run into a Girl Scout volunteer, you meet someone who has witnessed the transformative qualities of the mission. You hear passionate stories about giving back and getting so much more in return. You learn about the unexpected ways in which Girl Scouts has impacted their life.
So as you join me in celebrating these precious and inspiring 103 years of leadership development, ask yourself: How has Girl Scouts impacted my life? And how do I help impact my community?
February 19, 2015
Partners. Around. The. World.
This Sunday is World Thinking Day! Every year on February 22, girls around the world focus on global themes to honor their sister Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in other countries. It is a special day in the Girl Scout year when we join together and commit to making a difference in the world by concentrating efforts on a specific idea. The theme for 2015 is: "we can create peace through partnerships”.
World Thinking Day serves as a great reminder that each Girl Scout/Girl Guide experience is different and every girl’s journey has its own challenges and lessons. Part of being a responsible member of the Movement includes being aware of the issues that touch the lives of our Girl Scout sisters and how we can help each other.
There are over 500,000 African Girl Scouts and Girl Guides who focus their energy on projects around peace-building, nutrition, HIV and AIDS prevention, the prevention of violence against women, and children and women’s rights. More than 3 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts sisters in the Western Hemisphere, 2.5 million girls in Asia, 1.2 million members in Europe, and 160,000 in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Gulf Region, are developing solutions to overcome the hurdles in their part of the world such as poverty and homelessness, violence, gender inequality, and illiteracy.
In greater Los Angeles, Girl Scouts come together annually for the Feed Your Neighbor food drive which recently provided enough food for 89,000 meals. Girl Scout Gold Award projects have touched on critical issues from childhood obesity and bullying to disease prevention and environmental impact; while reaching local communities and global communities as far as Swaziland, India, and Haiti. In total, GSGLA Girl Scouts provided 1,200,000 hours of community service during 2013.
As Girl Scouts, we are part of a world-wide community. With over 10 million girls and adults around the globe, Girl Scouts is a vast, diverse, and powerful network. Working together to tackle the obstacles that we face is the answer to overcoming challenges.
What will you think about on World Thinking Day? What will you do to achieve peace in your community and your world?
January 15, 2015
Guiding. The. Future.
Each generation challenges the status-quo, breaks through barriers, and paves the way for the next generation. Yesterday’s groundbreakers cleared the path for today’s trailblazers and in turn they are doing the same for the leaders of tomorrow.
While leading the charge for change and growth is important, a large part of supporting other generations is a passing down of knowledge. Otherwise, without guidance, each generation would be forced to start from scratch. Without an understanding of the groundwork laid by the past, the future has no foundation to build on.
It is the responsibility of today’s women to ensure tomorrow’s women are equipped with the tools, knowledge, and confidence required to achieve their aspirations. A great way to do this is to be a mentor. And, there is no time like the present – especially since January is National Mentoring Month!
Last month, top female business, civic, and community leaders engaged 100 Emerging Leader Girl Scouts in powerful conversations during a mentoring session at the 2014 ToGetHerThere Luncheon. Emerging Leaders are Girl Scouts who are making a difference in their communities and poised to be the leaders of tomorrow. These young women represent Girl Scouts’ best and brightest.
The Emerging Leaders were inspired not only by the participating mentors, but also by the 2014 Women of Distinction: Toyota’s Communication Chief Julie Hamp and entrepreneur Robin McGraw who shared their stories of challenge and triumph; Girl Scouts National CEO and my friend and National Girl Scout Movement CEO Anna Maria Chávez; and by the hundreds of outstanding women and men who were in the audience and took moments during the event to engage the girls in conversations of celebration and encouragement.
For the girls, this opportunity may have led to new friendships, opportunities, perhaps even career options, but even at the least, a single word of support and optimism that means just as much.
Who was your role model when you were growing up? How did they inspire you to achieve your dreams? And how will you influence the women of tomorrow?
November 20, 2014
This time of year leads many people to reflect on the things they are grateful for – the obstacles they’ve overcome, the lessons they’ve learned, the people who make their lives better, and the experiences that have pushed them further along their path.
Here is a list of the TOP THINGS I am grateful for:
- Leading a mission-driven organization where we feel the tangible moments for mission every. single. day.
- Seeing progress in changing the leadership landscape for girls in greater LA—especially older girls who stay in Girl Scouting and experience significant advantages in achieving success.
- Our 343 Gold Award Girl Scouts in 2014.
- Our dedicated Board of Directors who are the most engaged and supportive of any governing board I know.
- Spending time at our 24 properties, especially our camps where the vistas are unending and the smell of pine trees lingering.
- Our creative and hardworking staff who always find a way to get program and support to our members.
- Our AMAZING 20,000 volunteers who have helped us keep our stronghold position as #5 of the 112 councils across the nation.
- Thin Mints!
- Seeing the progress we have made over the last six years in achieving our goals of 1) sustainable mission, 2) stabilized financial position and 3) philanthropic and brand presence in our marketplace.
- Our donors and supporters who believe in us and realize we can’t do this on cookies alone.
- Our 23 2014 convention delegates, who came together with our council’s 50+ official visitors in Salt Lake City for an inspirational set of experience where Girls Can Change the World.
- Our girls. Every one of them!
What are you thankful for?
October 31, 2014
Happy. Founder's. Day.
October 16, 2014
Greetings from Salt Lake City, Utah! I am currently at the Girl Scouts National Council Session and Convention where Girl Scouts from around the country meet up every three years to reflect on our successes, strengthen our Movement, and chart the future of Girl Scouting.
When I think back over the last three years, I am amazed at how much has happened and how much we’ve accomplished. In 2012, Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles hosted the Girl Scouts 100th Anniversary Float in the Rose Parade; thousands of troop leaders and re-engaged alumnae were represented by each rose on the float. At Girltopia 2013, we welcomed 9,000 guests to explore The World of Girl. The expo and leadership conference offered a sampling of today’s Girl Scout experience. And in 2014, we’ve focused on forging stronger community relationships in order to reach more girls, including our collaboration with the Los Angeles Police Department and Housing Authority of the City Los Angeles’ Community Safety Partnership initiative. You can read more about one of the troops impacted by this partnership here.
What’s more inspiring is what we’ve accomplished not only as a council, but as a Movement. We’ve celebrated all the lives touched by 100 years of Girl Scouting, launched the ToGetHerThere campaign—the largest, boldest advocacy and fundraising cause dedicated to girls’ leadership, and we continue to be the premier leadership development organization for girls.
In addition to the moments of reflection and accomplishment, the National Council Session and Convention is also about engaging in important strategic conversations and providing educational opportunities for both adults and girls. Some of the workshops I and our 23 council delegates are excited about include Cultivating a Growth Mindset, Courageous Conversations, and Finding the Global in Girl Scouts.
As the Movement continues to broaden its horizons, seek growth opportunities, and expand its reach, we build a stronger support system to inspire girls to find the confidence to believe in themselves, the courage to overcome obstacles, and the character to be of service to others and their community. I am honored to be a part of this tradition!
How are you moving your world forward? How are you moving the world forward into a growth mindset?
September 18, 2014
Taking. Care. Of. Business.
September 22 is National Women’s Business Day, the day designated to celebrate the value and contribution of women in the business world. This day recognizes the 1949 founding of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) and was proclaimed a national holiday in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan.
Precedent to the founding of ABWA, the 1940s brought women to the workplace in large numbers as many men were fighting in World War II. More than 6 million women found jobs in a wide variety of fields ranging from agriculture to healthcare to engineering. Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of the U.S. workforce increased from 27% to nearly 37% . Even after men returned from the war, women continued to work. Over the years, the number of women in the workforce has steadily increased. In 2013, 72.7 million women were working and represented 57.2% of the labor force .
Today, women run million dollar companies. In fact, one in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is woman-owned. According to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express OPEN, women are starting more than 1,200 new businesses per day, which is double the rate from 3 years ago. These companies are powerhouses in their arenas – in numbers, employment opportunities, and sales. As of this year, more than 9.1 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people, and generating $1.4 trillion in sales .
In 2012, Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles hosted our inaugural ToGetHerThere Luncheon. At this event, we invited top female executives to celebrate female leadership and support our ToGetHerThere campaign to achieve gender-balanced leadership in one generation. Additionally, we recognized local industry leaders -- who were also Girl Scouts -- as Women of Distinction: Jana Waring Greer (President and Chief Executive Officer of SunAmerica Retirement Markets, Inc.), Debra L. Reed (Chief Executive Officer of Sempra Energy), and Julia A. Stewart (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DineEquity, Inc.).
From left to right: Caroline W. Nahas (Managing Director of Southern California Kory/Ferry International), Julia A. Stewart, Anne Shen Smith (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Southern California Gas Company), and Jana Waring Greer.
I was inspired by all of the women who joined us that day. Their stories, accomplishments, and Girl Scout memories motivated me to continue my work as Chief Executive Officer of GSGLA. I am excited to see who joins us at this year’s ToGetHerThere Luncheon and what they have to share!
Who inspires you? Why? Have you told her?
 American Women in World War II, History.com, A+E Networks, 2010.
 Women's Bureau Latest Annual Data, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2013.
 The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, American Express OPEN, 2014.
August 21, 2014
Leaders. Choosing. Leaders.
Sometimes in successes, we forget the struggles. Sometimes we have moments where we take for granted the important things in our lives: our health, our families, our jobs, our rights. With Women’s Equality Day (August 26) around the corner I am reminded that it wasn’t long ago that women in the United States did not have equal rights to their male counterparts.
When Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts in 1912, women were eight years away from being given voting rights in the U.S. It wasn’t until August 18, 1920 that a woman’s right to vote officially became part of the Constitution. The passing of the 19th Amendment marked a turning point in the historic struggle for equal treatment of women and women’s rights in the U.S.
Today, women represent the majority of U.S. voters. The number of female voters has exceeded that of male voters in every presidential election since 1964. Also, in recent elections, women have cast four to seven million more votes than men according to a study released by the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University . Interestingly, Girl Scout alumnae are more civically engaged than non-alumnae: 51% of alumnae versus 41% of non-alumnae report that they always vote .
Girl Scouts encourages girls to become leaders, pursue their dreams, and confidently make a difference in our world. So, it’s no surprise that many alumnae achieve higher levels of education, attain higher salaries, and voice their choice in elections in higher numbers. In fact, 69% of female Senators, 67% of female House of Representatives members, and every female U.S. Secretary of State are Girl Scout alumna.
While women have come a long way in a relatively short period of time, we still have a distance to go to gain true equality: equal pay, equal opportunity, equal voice. In fact, in many countries around the world a woman’s right to vote has only recently been granted; and in Saudi Arabia and Vatican City, women are still not allowed this opportunity. We have work to do around the world and at home to achieve gender balance.
Here in the U.S., girls and women still face a number of challenges. They are underrepresented in science, technology, management, and government roles . They are more likely to live in poverty than boys and men . Most importantly, girls don’t believe they can lead the change they seek; only one in five girls believes she has the key qualities to be a leader . That is our work. Those are the issues that need to be addressed by today’s society.
I am so proud to be a part of an organization that is dedicated to empowering girls to make a difference so that their hopes and votes for gender equality and gender-balanced leadership for the future become our realities.
How are you preparing girls to become engaged citizens?
 Gender Differences in Voter Turnout, Center for American Women in Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University, 2014.
 Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact Study, Girl Scout Research Institute, Girl Scouts of the USA 2012.
 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Women’s Work Group Report, 2013.
 The Report on the Status of Women & Girls in California, Mount St. Mary’s College, 2014.
 Change it Up! What Girls Say About Redefining Leadership, Girl Scout Research Institute, 2008.
July 24, 2014
Maintain. Sustain. Attain.
The Girl Scout Movement is more than 100 years old! That sort of longevity does not happen by accident. It requires a dedication to sustainability which generally means utilizing resources wisely. For non-profit organizations sustainability involves more than cutting costs and leveraging resources; it requires maintaining clear direction towards a vision, engaging passionate champions, and diversifying fundraising efforts. These are three of the vital components that have made Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles the largest non-profit organization in Southern California serving girls.
Keeping the Girl Scout mission top of mind is key in achieving any organizational goal and all that we accomplish. Without a vision for the future, it is easy to lose momentum and focus. Every day, there is a new headline about another non profit losing its way or being absorbed into a larger organization. Without strategic clarity and implementation, vision remains merely theoretical. The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Board of Directors drives and oversees our strategic plan using their governance expertise. Every year our senior management works together to set annual goals to support the five year plan and strategy. We focus on enhancing the delivery of our programs, developing our volunteers, assuring financial stability, building philanthropic support, and communicating consistent marketing and branding messages-- all to support the delivery of our mission. With vision and clear direction we strive to improve our service to our membership year after year.
Every successful non-profit knows that passionate champions are its greatest resource. Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles’ dedicated staff, Board of Directors, and passionate volunteers serve more than 40,000 Girl Scouts in grades K-12 throughout Los Angeles County and parts of San Bernardino, Ventura, and Kern counties. Our staff are more than just employees; they are professionals who are committed to building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Our board is an engaged group of community leaders who provide their leadership and support. Our volunteers are motivated Girl Scout experts who are critical to our mission because they deliver the majority of programming to girls in a safe environment with positive role models. Connecting staff and volunteers with girls provides the next generation of leaders with mentors and experiences that allow girls to discover themselves, connect with others and take action to make the world a better place. Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles continuously and actively seeks volunteers to support our efforts.
Financial landscapes change and shift in unpredictable ways. Since the 1912 founding of Girl Scouts of the USA, the United States has endured through The Great Depression of the 1930’s, Recession of the 1980’s, and the recession that began in 2008. When the economy is uncertain, people and companies alike tighten their belts. As a result, philanthropic giving tends to decrease. At the same time, the need for social services soars and demand on non-profits increases. As many non-profits that rely heavily on one fundraising source (like government grants or corporate sponsorships) have learned in recent years, diversifying support is crucial to financial stability. Innovative fundraising techniques, such as giving circles, can also help to address financial challenges. Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles leverages its relationships with individuals, foundations, and corporations to ensure that we can successfully provide programming and fulfill our responsibilities to our girls.
Throughout our 102 year history we have been a constant for our girls. And as we move forward, we will continue to align our vision, our strategy, our goals and our resources so that our girls of today and tomorrow can attain bright futures. Maintaining sustainability means that Girl Scouts can continue its good works, continuing our long history of inspiring girls to be their best, achieve their dreams, and make their mark on the world.
What plans do you put into action to achieve your goals?
June 19, 2014
Give. And. Receive.
I am a strong believer that everyone has something to contribute to make our world a better place. Whether it’s your talent, experience, perspective, or passion, everyone has something to offer.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of witnessing 343 Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, ages 14 to 18, receive their Gold Award. The Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. It is earned by girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership, inspire, and lead by example. Channeling their passion and interests, these Girl Scouts developed and executed large-scale and long-lasting community action projects that required a minimum of 80 hours of service, with most contributing many more.
This year, Gold Award projects tackled some of the greatest challenges that our society faces today. Collectively, the 2014 Gold Awardees provided more than 27,000 hours of leadership, advocacy, and service right here in Greater Los Angeles. Their efforts have made a huge impact in their local, national, and international communities. Gold Award Girl Scouts are paving the way for positive change and helping the Girl Scout Movement achieve its mission of making the world a better place.
The amazing thing about contributing is that often the person giving of themselves receives more than they expect (or even realize) in return. Several studies have shown that volunteerism can have a positive effect on your health. Giving of your time and talent can help combat depression, increase lifespan, decrease stress, and lower blood pressure among other benefits. Some of the intangible rewards of being of service include a sense of connection, accomplishment, and gratitude, which also happen to be key components of being happy. Coincidence? I think not. When you help others, you make a difference that impacts your environment and the people around you, which in turn makes a difference in your life. In giving of yourself, you give to yourself.
What have you contributed to your community, your world? And how did that make you feel?
May 22, 2014
Root. STEM. Bloom.
While new and exhilarating experiences can be daunting at first, overcoming initial hesitations can help girls gain the confidence to try new things. Girl Scouts is dedicated to inspiring girls to branch out into unexplored territory by encouraging them to find the courage to step out of their comfort zone. In the supportive environment of Girl Scouts, many girls face challenges like performing in front of an audience, horseback riding, and running a business for the first time.
Girl Scouts believes in opening doors for girls to possibilities that may have once seemed out of reach. In 2012, the Girl Scout Research Institute looked into several STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) related issues including the underrepresentation of women in these fields; women hold 20% of the bachelor’s degrees in engineering, computer science, and physics; and only about 25% of STEM career positions are held by women.
The research also showed the benefits of STEM education. Compared to their counterparts, girls who engage in STEM activities have higher confidence in their academic abilities, set higher goals for themselves, and are more inclined to overcome obstacles. With these discoveries in mind, Girl Scouts is addressing ways to successfully engage girls in STEM so that they can see it as a potential path for their future.
“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind:
Study the science of art. Study the art of science.
Develop your senses- especially learn how to see.
Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
-- Leonardo da Vinci
Launching a rocket or building a robot might seem overwhelming, but hundreds of Girl Scouts in the greater Los Angeles area are discovering that they are up to the task. With its strong history in providing enriching STEM programs for girls, Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles (GSGLA) currently has 15 sponsored FIRST Lego League robotics teams.
Girl Scouts has remained relevant for more than 100 years for one simple reason: Our organization listens to and moves at the speed of girls. We evolve and adjust our programming according to girls’ most current and pressing needs and interests. Girls tell us that they want to gain more STEM skills, but that there are barriers holding them back—81% of girls are interested in STEM, but only 13% say it’s their first career choice. In response to this growing desire to discover that STEM passion and confidence, GSGLA hosts a variety of hands-on STEM programs, including an introductory rocketry program where hundreds of Girl Scouts build and launch rockets at the Santa Fe Dam.
And with the help of these programs, Girl Scouts are breaking new barriers. After months of designing, building, and launching homemade model rockets, Girl Scout Troop 3531 from the San Gabriel Valley were invited to compete in the national finals of the prestigious Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) on May 10 in Washington, D.C., making them the first-ever Girl Scout troop to make it to the competition in its 12-year history. TARC is the world's largest rocket contest for high school and middle school students. Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), the National Association of Rocketry, and NASA, it is a key piece of the aerospace industry's strategy to build a stronger U.S. workforce in science and technology.
Our ongoing evolution has led GSGLA to expand our STEM program to STEAM. STEAM combines STEM with elements of art and design; find out more about this education movement here. The intention behind adding a creative component to STEM is to connect access points across disciplines in order to inspire creativity and spur innovation. Rooted in a tradition of being untraditional, our goal is to help girls grow and blossom.
How are you encouraging girls to reach outside of their comfort zone and discover new skills and interests?
April 24, 2014
Leaving. A. Legacy.
Different stages of our lives present different questions about who we are and how we are seen by our peers, family, and the world as a whole. When we enter our careers: “What will I be known for?” When we have children: “What will they learn from me?” And as we get older, there is a shift in our concerns which usually coincides with the arrival of the next generation: “How will I be remembered?”
The decisions we make in our lives continue to have an impact after we’ve passed away. It is this realization that reminds us of the weight of our responsibilities and the importance of our legacy. As the late Paul Tsongas once said, “We are a continuum. Just as we reach back to our ancestors for our fundamental values, so we, as guardians of that legacy, must reach ahead to our children and their children. And we do so with a sense of sacredness in that reaching.”
April has been designated Planned Giving month at Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. Including Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles in your estate can ensure that Girls Scouts is available for the next generation of girls. I am proud to have made an inaugural gift in 2013 and even prouder to be joined in the Juliette Gordon Low Planned Giving Society by Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Board members, staff, and 100% of my executive team. You could help make the Girl Scout leadership experience available to all girls and prepare them to make healthy, values-based decisions as they prepare for the challenges and opportunities awaiting them. Discover the ways you can give and learn how simple it can be to implement. Click here for more information.
What do you want to be remembered for? What will your legacy be?
April 22, 2014
I. Appreciate. You.
Thank you for all that you do to build tomorrow's leaders!
March 19, 2014
Choose. Your. Words. Wisely.
Throughout our lives we are taught that words are powerful. Words have the ability to change how we feel, how we see ourselves, and how we interact with the world. They can even change lives.
For instance, when adults encourage children who are upset with the phrase “Use your words”, they learn that empowerment over frustration can be found through verbal expression. When kids ask for something, and in return are asked “What’s the magic word?”, they learn that words can be the conduit for their needs and desires being met. As we grow up, we continue to receive reminders of these early life lessons with sayings like “Choose your words wisely”. While the examples I’ve mentioned are methods of positive reinforcement, the power of words is a two-sided coin.
In our lifetime, we also encounter the insidious nature of words -- from playground taunts and name calling to gossip and negative self-talk. But what are the undesirable effects of the words we choose? Girl Scouts has partnered with LeanIn.org to explore this question with regards to a specific word, “bossy,” and its impact on female leadership. From a young age, girls who speak up, assert themselves, and take charge might be told that they are bossy. Unfortunately, what we are finding is that while boys asserting assertive behavior are called leaders, girls are often called bossy. Or the other b-word…
Ultimately, girls are twice as likely as boys to worry that leadership roles will make them seem “bossy” (Girl Scouts Research Institute). Instead of being encouraged to hone their leadership skills, girls are told to put down their hands and take a step back. To keep quiet. To wait their turn. The impact of this seemingly simple yet powerful word is leaving girls feeling powerless. By the time girls reach middle school, they are 25% less likely than boys to say that they like taking the lead (Sloan Study of Youth and Social Development).
The Ban Bossy public service campaign aims to draw attention to the messages we are sending our girls about what it means to be a leader and the words we use like bossy that keep girls from feeling supported in their efforts to lead the way and blaze trails.
Have you ever been called bossy, or have you ever called someone bossy? Do you think that one word can make a difference?
March 12, 2014
Remembering. Our. History.
Every year on March 12, Girl Scouts from around the nation commemorate the day when Juliette Gordon Low officially launched her dream by gathering the first 18 girl members for the organization’s inaugural meeting in Savannah, Georgia. In that moment, Juliette realized her dream by creating a Movement that fosters an environment where girls feel empowered in their own lives and are equipped to better the world around them.
Yet, Girl Scout Birthday is more than songs and cake. It’s also about honoring our founder, reflecting on the impact of her vision, and imagining our role in shaping the future for girls everywhere.
Troops, girls, and alumnae not only meet to celebrate but also find ways to perpetuate the values of Girl Scouts often with acts of generosity through community service. In the early 1960’s, Girl Scouts across the U.S. planted yellow floribunda roses and dwarf marigolds along highways, at schools, in parks and other public spaces as a “birthday gift” to the nation. Over the last few years, Girl Scout troops in Massachusetts have gathered to collect ingredients and baking supplies for a “birthday box” to be donated to a local food bank. Girls bring cake pans, cake mix, frosting, candles and cake decorations in order to provide a family with everything they would need to make a birthday cake, ensuring that even those who may not have the means will not go without their own celebratory treats on their special day.
More than 100 years after the birth of our Movement, Girl Scouts is committed to its mission and continues to instill self-reliance, encourage exploration, and inspire girls to make the world a better place.
Aren’t you proud to be a contributor?
February 20, 2014
Open. Door. Policy.
Girl Scouts around the country and Girl Guides around the world celebrate World Thinking Day every year on February 22. The theme for 2014 is: "Education opens doors for all girls and boys!”
We all agree that education, formal and informal, helps us understand the world around us and is the key to being a successful, contributing member of society. Many of us have seen the inspiring documentary “Girl Rising” which profiles the transformational effect of education for girls, many of whom grow up in underserved countries. Fortunately, experiential opportunities provided by organizations such as Girl Scouts play an integral role in an informal education for youth, and – as this year’s World Thinking Day theme showcases – Girl Scouts also plays an important role in encouraging formal education. I’m so proud to be associated with this Movement, which advances opportunities and successes every day.
According to the Girl Scout Research Institute’s Alumnae Impact Study, 77% of American girls who participated in Girl Scouting attended college at a higher rate than those who did not. Additionally, the longer girls remained active in Girl Scouts, the more likely they were to obtain an undergraduate and/or postgraduate degree; alumnae with six or more years of Girl Scouting experience earned these degrees 20% more often than non-alumnae. The result is that programs and experiences in Girl Scouts can inspire the potential in every girl and the confidence to pursue her dreams.
Education can open doors beyond our national perspective. Part of what makes World Thinking Day so special is the sense of global connectivity we impart to girls. Honoring international friendships with Girl Guides and Girl Scouts directly reflects The Girl Scout Law. The best way to teach our girls to “be a sister to every Girl Scout” is by helping them understand how different girls live around the world. This is an opportunity for girls to discover new Girl Guide and Girl Scout traditions and explore different cultures—from their languages and food to art and customs. As we become a global society, our youth needs the preparation and confidence to show up in a new, global manner.
This year on World Thinking Day over 10 million girls and adults in 145 countries will be encouraged to make a personal commitment to change the world around us – particularly focusing on educational pursuits. By participating in activities, learning about and taking action on important issues, and celebrating international friendships, girls will learn more about their role in the global community and how they can make the world a better place. Because without a solid understanding of the world and their part in it, how can girls be expected to make a significant and long-lasting impact?
How are you inspiring youth and encouraging education? What’s your “open door policy?”
Lise L. Luttgens
Chief Executive Officer,
Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles
Learn more about our CEO here.