Encouraging the Leaders of Tomorrow

Lidia Soto-Harmon is the Deputy Executive Director for GSCNC.

Nearly 90% of Latina girls want to be the kind of leader who stands up for her beliefs and values, brings people together to get things done, and tries to change the world for the better. Latina girls are likely to aspire to leadership, but at the same time, the greatest barrier for them seems to be low self-regard about certain skills and qualities (source: Change It Up! What Girls Say About Redefining Leadership, Girl Scouts of the USA). This is where the Girl Scouts comes in.

I, along with the Girl Scouts Council of the Nation’s Capital, believe in the power of Latinas. That’s why we’re inviting girls aged 11 to 17 to attend the Encuentro de Chicas Latinas de las Girl Scouts. The event is free and open to all girls, regardless of their affiliation with Girl Scouts. The leadership conference will be held June 29 – 30 at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Through this convening of girls, we hope to inspire them to recognize their abilities and become leaders in their schools and communities. We purposefully selected a college setting in order to instill in these girls a desire for academic success.  Research has shown that teens who experience college settings are more likely to see themselves attending college than those who have never had that opportunity.

Engaging workshops throughout the two-day event will focus on leadership skills, pride in cultural heritage and promote healthy behaviors with fun fitness activities like yoga and Zumba (a fusion of Latin dance and exercise). There will also be discussions on college admissions and scholarship opportunities. One exciting workshop hosted by Mary Fernandez is all about GeoGames, a fun, healthy and outdoor multi-player game played via smartphones! Each leadership workshop and interactive demonstrations are hosted by accomplished Latino professionals and are designed to prove to the girls that they do have the abilities to go far as they dream, sí se puede!.

On the final day, Henry Bonilla, a former congressman from Texas, will present the keynote speech, his story of triumph over difficult beginnings is just what our Latinitas need to hear. Most importantly, getting all these Latinas together and focusing on leadership and self-enrichment will help to encourage them to  become the leaders in their communities.

What do you believe are the greatest qualities needed in leaders today? What piece of advice would you share with these girls?

-Lidia

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