There are more female leaders than ever—but still too few at the very top. Companies with three or more senior female board members outperformed their competition by 40 percent, and chances are one of those women was a Girl Scout! One of the greatest experiences that Girl Scouting provides girls, and for that matter, women, is the opportunity to find their voice and unique style of leadership. I know that some prefer to lead behind the scenes, while others are center stage, but no matter what your leadership preference, Girl Scouting will nurture and provide you with the skills to succeed.
One of our most visible examples of leadership at GSCNC has been our Executive Director, Jan Verhage. For 25 years she led our Council to extraordinary heights in membership, girl accomplishments and service to underserved communities. She wore many hats, celebrated many milestones and presided over many Annual Meetings. Jan recently accepted the Chief Operating Officer position at GSUSA. She leaves behind some pretty big shoes for me to fill as I assume the role of Acting Executive Director. I had the privilege to learn from Jan– she was not only my boss, but my mentor and friend. She connected Girl Scouts to the most powerful women in the Greater Washington Region. And she did it with style and with a song. It is my promise to continue taking Girl Scouts on that journey.
Jan’s last official act as Executive Director was to keynote “In Your Honor” a reception for Gold and Silver Trefoil Girl Scouts at Trinity Washington University. Jan encouraged Girl Scouts to continue to pursue their dreams and to take action to make our world a better place. We know that our Gold Award Girl Scouts have done just that, devoting a minimum of 65 hours on projects that provide services to their communities. They took action and led in the development of a variety of lasting projects including environmental programs, safety seminars, educational workshops and many helped those less fortunate by conducting drives to provide free school supplies, library books and household items to make their communities stronger.
In my opinion some of the best leadership opportunities are at Girl Scouts. In addition to our Girls outstanding record of community service, they have opportunities to participate in world class conferences, travel abroad, learn an appreciation for the environment and camp; all while building confidence and character. We host several conferences –bringing girls to college campuses to explore their leadership potential. Keys to Leadership was held on March 6 at American University to reach girls with disabilities. Your Turn To Lead brought girls from the DC area to Howard University where mentors talked to girls about opportunities and this month our Council will host Encuentro de Chicas Latinas June 28 -30 at George Mason University to reach young Latina girls offering them alternatives and opportunities to lead as Girl Scouts.
I encourage all of our girls to take advantage of the opportunities, to find their leadership style, and to leave a legacy all their own. I know that Girl Scouting will put them on the path to leadership—after all 68 percent of women in Congress were Girl Scouts too!