Guest Author: Lidia Soto-Harmon, CEO, Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital
Just 107 years ago in Savannah, Georgia, Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts for “the girls of Savannah and of all America, and the world.” She was adamant about preparing girls to be courageous and confident, as well as helping them develop the character they needed to make the world a better place.
I was so proud to see Vanguard Communications feature Juliette Gordon Low as the “Trailblazing Trooper” in its 2019 calendar, and this feature prompted me to reflect on how our founder started a truly remarkable movement. After more than a century, both the mission and vision of the Girl Scouts are still relevant.
As I think of several experiences I’ve had this past year, I can see the impact that this organization, which is so passionate about providing a safe space for girls to try new things, has on uplifting not only girls but also their mothers, their troop leaders and their communities.
When visiting a troop in the District of Columbia, I saw passion in the Girl Scouts’ faces, and an eagerness to give back to their community. The night I visited them, they were launching a tiny library to provide free books for those in need, as well as a place for others to donate their own books to the cause.
I saw that passion again near my local supermarket on a rainy Friday night. Four Girl Scouts with soggy signs were selling Girl Scout cookies because they wanted to fund their dreams and make a difference. I was impressed with the two moms who were there supporting the girls in this endeavor. Although it was raining, the girls were determined, and everyone was happy.
That passion was on display yet again when I met teen Girl Scouts who came to a career workshop at our office to learn about interview skills and how to prepare for the future. One Girl Scout told me, “I really didn’t want to come, but I am so glad I did. I learned things I would have never learned in school.”
You see, Girl Scouts is not just aspirational — we provide girls with the opportunity to take action. Whether through volunteering in the community or solving real-world problems, there is so much that Girl Scouts can do for girls, and that it has already done for the more than 59 million Girl Scout alumnae around the world.
During my tenure as CEO of Girl Scouts, I have been humbled by the fact that our organization has a rich diversity as well as a common goal and purpose. Our Girl Scouts may have different stories of why they believe in the Girl Scouts’ mission and what they have learned, but they all share a desire to make a difference in a sustainable way.
As we celebrate Juliette Gordon Low this month, I feel lucky that I get to continue to experience Girl Scouting every day. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but with a strong sisterhood and commitment from our community, we will continue to shift the status quo — because when girls succeed, society succeeds as well.
Thank you, Juliette Gordon Low. Thank you, Girl Scouts.
Lidia Soto Harmon has a proven track record of success in the corporate, non-profit and government sectors. On August 25, 2010, she was appointed CEO of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, after serving six years as the organization’s Chief Operating Officer. The Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital is the largest council in the country and serves as the area’s preeminent leadership organization for girls. With 87,000 girl and adult members (girls in grades K-12), the Council covers the Greater Washington Region, which includes the District of Columbia and 25 counties in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.