Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Book Shares Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts

Reuters reports that Girl Scouts of the USA has shaped the lives of more than 59 million alumnae alive today, among them many of our nation’s female leaders.

There is no other organization remotely comparable in size, experience, and resources devoted to developing leadership in girls. Kathy Cloninger, CEO Emeritus of Girl Scouts of the USA, tells its story in the new book Tough Cookies: Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts.

Tough Cookies addresses one of our nation’s most underused resources: girls, and the women they ultimately can become. Kathy Cloninger makes a convincing case for the enormous untapped potential of America’s girls and issues a ringing call to action to girls, boys, parents, the business community, and the public to help females make a better, stronger, and more prosperous future for all.

Cloninger underlines her point with two very personal transformation stories. Cloninger, the first member of her family to attend college, was originally advised by her high-school counselor to set her sights on secretarial school. However, her instincts led to college, then to graduate school, to an extremely successful non-profit career, and finally to her appointment as chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of the USA.

The other story is that of an iconic but fading American institution that under Cloninger’s galvanizing leadership transformed itself into an envied and widely imitated model of nonprofit management excellence. She renewed and revitalized the organization’s commitment to developing girls' leadership capabilities, and implemented a new strategic business plan affecting every major area of organizational activity: programs, volunteerism, brand, funding, and structure/governance.

In its 100th anniversary year, Girl Scouts of the USA has affirmed its unwavering commitment to girls’ leadership with the launch of ToGetHerThere, the largest, boldest advocacy and fundraising cause dedicated to girls’ leadership in the nation’s history. The multi-year effort will seek to create balanced leadership—the equal representation of women in leadership positions in all sectors and levels of society—within one generation.

All proceeds from Tough Cookies: Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts go to ToGetHerThere.


Approximately one in every two adult women (49%) in the U.S. has at some point been a member of Girl Scouts, with the average length of time spent in Girl Scouts four years. According to the newly released Girl Scout Research Institute report Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact Study, women who were Girl Scouts as children display significantly more positive life outcomes than do non-Girl Scout alumnae, outcomes that include perceptions of self, volunteerism and community work, civic engagement, education, income, and socioeconomic status.