Monday, September 26, 2011

Girl Scouts of the USA Convene African American and Hispanic Leaders in Washington D.C.

Last week, Girl Scouts of the USA led two major events in Washington, D.C. to help connect with African American and Hispanic leaders from across the country. These events were part of Girl Scouts’ long-standing tradition of advancing diversity and pluralism and engaging like-minded organizations to help promote Girl Scouting for all girls.

The centerpiece of both of these discussions was a report by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), The Resilience Factor, which examines how African American and Hispanic girls define, experience, and aspire to leadership. The Resilience Factor found that African American and Hispanic girls are more likely to view themselves as leaders, and also more likely to aspire to leadership than their Caucasian peers. Specifically, the research revealed that societal problems – such as racism or economic disenfranchisement -- can cause African American and Hispanic girls to become resilient and as a result, develop stronger leadership skills. This research is one of several reports that GSRI has published on how girls aspire to leadership, and ensures that Girl Scouts is designing and delivering contemporary, meaningful program that resonates with a diverse range of girls.

Armed with this research, Girl Scouts joined with BET Networks and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) to host a luncheon panel discussion on African American girls and leadership. The program featured GSUSA national board member and Chair of the Coca-Cola Foundation Ingrid Saunders Jones, BET Networks Chairman and CEO and former Girl Scout Debra L. Lee, teen Gold-Awardee Jillian Ross, former GSUSA board member and Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration Marie Johns, Girl Scouts of Connecticut CEO Jennifer Smith Turner, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) and other business and media leaders. Congresswomen Donna Edwards (D-MD), Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and Laura Richardson (D-CA) also attended and offered brief remarks.

During the event, panelists shared their leadership journeys, and discussed ways to increase leadership among African American girls. Additionally, Girl Scouts was able to connect with leaders from African American sororities, faith-based organizations, businesses, other non-profits, and leaders from across the country to discuss ways to promote Girl Scouting with African American girls.

Also, Girl Scouts of the USA’s CEO-designee Anna Maria Chavez spoke at a plenary session of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Public Policy Institute. Ms. Chavez was introduced by former Chair of the National Board, Patricia Diaz Dennis, and spoke before 600 Hispanic business, policy, and community leaders. She shared information from The Resilience Factor, highlighted Girl Scouts’ commitment to increasing Latina membership and emphasized the need for greater collaboration between the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and Girl Scouts.