Thursday, March 10, 2016

In a Girl Scout State of Mind

What comes to mind when you think of New York City? Is it Times Square, the Empire State Building, Central Park, or the Statue of Liberty? “The Big Apple”? “The Melting Pot”? “The City That Never Sleeps”?

How about Girl Scouts? You might be surprised to learn that a century ago, our founder Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low moved Girl Scouts’ headquarters to New York City. As holds true today, NYC was going through a tremendous demographic and economic transformation, and several youth-serving organizations were establishing headquarters in the city to capitalize on its growth. As Daisy’s mother wrote to her “Darling Daisy” in 1916, “It is evidently the crucial time to change your headquarters to N.Y. City. It is really the important thing to do now.” GSUSA has called New York City home ever since, through several office moves, including to our current iconic space in Manhattan, purchased 25 years ago.

Today Girl Scouts continues to advance Juliette’s vision and has embarked on a new, multi-year, Movement-wide business plan that challenges us to bring more girls into the fold, particularly those who are new to the Girl Scout experience. To achieve this, we will continue to enhance our program experience for girls, volunteers, and alumnae; modernize our operations; and pursue new sources of funding to help make our plans a reality.

After thorough consideration, we have come up with a few ways to bring this new strategic vision to life, including looking at how best to utilize and modernize our global headquarters. With an eye to the future, we will sell several office floors and use the proceeds to do some important things for the organization, including—and perhaps most importantly—creating a sustainable fund for our councils that enables them to better serve girls and volunteers in their communities.

At the same time, we will also consolidate and renovate our remaining floors in order to update systems and adhere to sustainable building and design practices. This will allow us to use resources more effectively and decrease operating costs.

Also importantly, we will create an environment that welcomes and inspires everyone who cares about girls and their well-being—be they Girl Scouts who’ve saved their cookie money for a trip to New York City, alumnae visiting as part of a troop reunion, thought leaders who share our passion for serving girls, or staff who work in the office day after day—all in the interest of connecting people more deeply to our amazing and powerful mission.

Girl Scouts is proud to have helped girls realize their potential for more than 100 years, but we recognize that we can do more with our office space to help our Movement realize its full potential—consistent with Daisy’s vision a century ago. We’re just getting this transformation underway, and it’s going to take some time to refresh our space, but when we’re done, we look forward to welcoming you to it.

And hey, perhaps one day soon you’ll come to think of New York City as “the Big Trefoil”!