Head Girl Scout Speaks to Spokane Troops About Leadership

By Paige Browning

Inland Northwest Girl Scouts got a rare visit from their national CEO Wednesday. Girl Scouts of America CEO Anna Maria Chavez gave the keynote address at the Spokane chapter’s annual leadership luncheon. With her direction, young girls are ignoring the label ‘bossy’.
 
Anna Maria Chavez says Girls Scouts has the secret sauce. She attributes the organization’s success (there are 112 chapters) to its strong history, and well-developed programs like the cookie sales.
 
Chavez: “I’ve met CEO’s of major corporations from DuPont, in Silicon Valley, women who have achieved great things. They’ll come up to say ‘Anna I want you to know, I earned by business skills selling cookies as a Girl Scout’.”
 
On the local level, Pam Lund says the numbers of new Girl Scouts has declined in recent years. But she says the group remains relevant because it trains young girls in leadership. Lund is CEO of the Girl Scouts Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.
 
Lund: “We create a conversation among girls to help them lead, to help them determine what it is they’re going to do in their troupes. We do a lot in the science, technology, engineering and math arena. We work with robotics organizations and we actually partner with science organizations.”
 
But Chavez says outside forces, like peers and parents, can direct girls away from being leaders. That’s why she got involved with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on a campaign called ‘Ban Bossy’.
 
Chavez: “Let’s be a little careful when we talk to girls, and if they are sort of raising their voice saying I have an opinion on this, let’s not use the word bossy. Because unfortunately in our research we have found that girls associate negative connotations with the word bossy, and unfortunately we’re talking girls out of sharing their voice on important issues.”
 
They have launched the campaign ‘ban bossy’ nationwide, in hopes to educate kids and adults how the word affects girls. You may soon hear about banning bossy in Spokane, since Chavez helped train Girl Scout leaders on the campaign during her visit.
 
Nationally, there has been some push-back to the campaign, with critics saying women should instead reclaim the word bossy.

At the end of the day, Chavez says to inspire kids, adults need to show them what’s possible.
 
Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio
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