Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Former Girl Scouts and Current Leaders and Innovators Share Their Advice for Today’s Girl Scouts



Today is Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day! To celebrate, we decided to inspire you with invaluable advice from top tech and science professionals, who happen to be G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™ and Girl Scout Alums. Enjoy!

Jane Chappell
What is her current role, and how did Girl Scouts help her get there?
Jane Chappelle is vice president of global intelligence solutions mission area at Raytheon. This high-achieving Girl Scout alum has received Raytheon’s prestigious CEO Leadership Award.

Jane remembers her time at Girls Scouts as significant in helping her lay a foundation for her independence and form her courage and confidence. She didn’t have female role models in STEM growing up, but when she heard through Girl Scouts about the exciting projects computer science graduates were working on and the salaries they were making, she decided to enter the field. “I looked at computer science as solving puzzles,” explains Jane, something she enjoys to this day.

How did Girl Scouts prepare her to lead?
For Jane, the badges on her sash represented all of her accomplishments, but she also remembers working on team-oriented projects during Girl Scout meetings. These experiences taught her how to balance individual education and goals with team accomplishments and goals.

What advice would she give today’s Girl Scouts? 
“Have fun with your troop activities, and take advantage of all the different experiences and opportunities you can get exposed to as part of Girl Scouts.” 

Juanita Dawson
What is her current role, and how did Girl Scouts help her get there?
Juanita Dawson is a senior manager of information security, risk, and compliance for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, where she has brought many life lessons from Girl Scouting into her work. One lesson dates back to a Girl Scout tradition from 1912—“Do a good turn daily,” is the Girl Scout slogan that has guided Juanita. The phrase reminds her of the many ways girls can contribute positively to others’ lives. Juanita lives this ideal by always looking for ways to add value to the work she does, both professionally and personally. Her passion for service has led her from Brownies to the boardroom; she's now an elected member of the board of directors for Girls Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. Girl Scouts also formed her desire early on to pursue a STEM career. She worked on numerous science fairs, math decathlons, and debate teams to prepare for Girl Scout badges.

Juanita (in red) joins Girl Scouts of Greater LA at National Engineers Week.
How did Girl Scouts prepare her to lead?
Juanita says that Girl Scouts encouraged her to be a risk-taker and be comfortable with taking the lead. She credits her experiences at Girl Scouts with helping her reach her full potential as a leader in life and her career.

What advice would she give today’s Girl Scouts? 
“Be the powerful voice that integrates technology, encourages innovation, and embraces diverse perspectives.”

Virginia Michaud
What is her current role, and how did Girl Scouts help her get there?
“Girls Scouts taught me I could do anything I set my mind to,” says Virginia Michaud, a Raytheon employee of 38 years who currently serves as its senior engineer and logistics specialist. This powerful lesson is one she carries with her today in the competitive engineering field. “Girl Scouts actually provided the STEM experience to girls before the phrase ‘STEM’ was coined. Girl Scouts has always provided activities for girls to expand their thought process of what they can do now and in the future.” Today she continues to pay forward the “you can do anything” message to countless young women as a Girl Scout troop leader for almost two decades.

Virginia (top right) is no stranger to empowering girls through outdoor adventures.
But inspiration and confidence are only part of Virginia’s Girl Scout–inspired story. Once, when working with a customer, her Girl Scout skills proved invaluable during a crisis. She saw the customer begin to have a seizure and immediately leapet into action, performing emergency first aid. Thanks to her Girl Scout training, Virginia had the tools to quickly assess the situation, act, and save a life.

How did Girl Scouts prepare her to lead?

As a Brownie and Junior, Virginia learned that being a leader meant having responsibilities beyond oneself. She recalls being assigned leadership roles within her troop, where she learned the importance of keeping a commitment to herself and the other girls. These leadership skills gave her the ability to stand up for what she thought was right (after carefully checking the facts) and pursue what she wanted with confidence.

What advice would she give today’s Girl Scouts? 
“Be true to yourself, and explore your world. Be proud of who you are, be proud that you are part of a tradition that is over 100 years old that is just for girls. Don’t fall into the path as a follower; be the leader of your destiny. Make a commitment, and stick with it.”

Sue Kohlman
What is her current role, and how did Girl Scouts help her get there?
As a manufacturing engineering manager, Sue Kohlman uses the foundations of Girl Scouts every day as she collaborates with colleagues to overcome challenges. She has been involved with Girl Scouts for more than 30 years, first as a girl and then as a troop leader, facilitator, and highest awards mentor.
Sue (far left) and her coworkers display their Girl Scout uniforms.
How did Girl Scouts prepare her to lead?
Sue recalls that Girl Scouts prepared her to work as part of a team and to challenge herself in everything she did. She learned that it’s OK to make mistakes as long as you learn from them going forward.

What advice would she give today’s Girl Scouts? 
“Challenge yourselves, and remember that you can do anything you set your mind to.”


Diana Raz
What is her current role, and how did Girl Scouts help her get there?
Currently an IT business analyst at Raytheon, Diana Raz can’t remember when she wasn’t involved in Girl Scouts. Having joined as a young Daisy, she kept coming back for 13 years. Diana feels fortunate to have had a troop leader who focused on STEM topics and encouraged girls to think about what they wanted to do as adults. When she was just five years old, she wanted to be a mathematician who fought crime, and in middle school, she had her mind set on being a math teacher or NASA engineer. Finally, by high school, she decided on a career in computer science. Girl Scouts helped her think of which careers she was interested in, and never once did any troop leader tell her that her dreams were impossible.
Diana (back left) poses with her fellow Girl Scouts.
How did Girl Scouts prepare her to lead?
Diana recalls that Girl Scouts helped increase her comfort and confidence while talking to and teaching others. She also learned about planning, thinking quickly, and making the best out of every situation. “These leadership skills and self-confidence still help me to this day,” she says.

What advice would she give today’s Girl Scouts?
“Girl Scouting is a great opportunity to explore STEM and non-STEM opportunities. While I had many STEM opportunities in Girl Scouts, without the organization I most likely would have never ridden a horse, gone orienteering, watched numerous musicals and plays at Dallas theaters while volunteering as a ticket-taker, or seen the inner workings of local companies and factories.”

Lynn Alvarez
What is her current role, and how did Girl Scouts help her get there?
Lynn Alvarez, who works as a financial analyst at Raytheon, loved being a Girl Scout. As a Brownie and Junior, she learned to work collaboratively with her sister Girl Scouts, a skill she today uses all the time with colleagues.

Presently Lynn leads a troop of award-winning Girl Scouts. In fact, six of her girls are working toward earning their Gold Award, and she expects that many of them will grow up to be STEM leaders.

How did Girl Scouts prepare her to lead?
Girl Scouts showed Lynn that every girl is capable of being a leader if she’s mentored, positively encouraged, and presented with the right opportunities. She believes that Girl Scouts encourages more girls to imagine themselves in future leadership roles.

What advice would she give today’s Girl Scouts?
"Be confident in what you are and what you find interesting. Don’t worry about what others may think about you. Be proud of what you have accomplished and the skills that you are building. These skills will set you apart from the crowd.”

Amy Sorensen
What is her current role, and how did Girl Scouts help her get there?
Today she’s Raytheon’s principal electronics engineer, but Amy Sorensen got her start at Girl Scout outings and camping trips through which she asked questions and grew curious about the world around her. Her desire to know how everything worked and the encouragement and tools she received at Girl Scouts were essential to her career choice. Living in a small town, Girl Scouts was one of the few ways that girls had the opportunity to meet professional adults. Whether it was a trip to the local dentist’s office or a visit to the city planning office, Amy and her troop were encouraged to think about their career interests, which helped her consider jobs she otherwise may not have. 

Amy (center) helps advance the next generation of G.I.R.L.s.
How did Girl Scouts prepare her to lead?
Leading a group of peers to come to a decision is a big part of Girl Scouts, something Amy, now a troop leader, ensures her own girls practice.

What advice would she give today’s Girl Scouts? 
“Girl Scouts is a great opportunity to explore the world around you. It’s one of the best places to ask questions about your community, yourself, and your goals and get a chance to get out of your comfort zone. So look for those things you haven’t done before, and just give [them] a try!” 

Eileen Propes
What is her current role, and how did Girl Scouts help her get there?
Eileen Propes, a systems engineer at Raytheon, says her earliest Girl Scout experiences were in a troop that encouraged creativity, curiosity, and exploration, laying the groundwork for seeing science
Eileen as a Brownie in the '90s.
Her smile was infectious!
as a fun, artistic endeavor. Her troop also encouraged her to love math through the cookie program, in which they learned the real application of managing money, tracking sales, setting goals, and planning. Because she had such a strong foundation in STEM, myths like “science isn’t fun,” “math is boring,” and “girls don’t do STEM” didn’t reach and affect her. By the time she was in middle school, Eileen had set her sights on a career in engineering. She credits this dream with pushing her to achieve her goals, even when it felt like she had a long way to go.

“Girl Scouts teaches skills through activities like how to canoe, but the real lessons I learned in those activities are things like how to work as a team and how to be the type of person that I respect,” says Eileen. “The things I learned in Girl Scouts aren’t skills as much as they are a way of living within my own skin that I can be proud of.”

How did Girl Scouts prepare her to lead?
When Eileen’s troop began to mentor the girls in a younger troop, she remembers learning leadership fundamentals. She says the experience taught her that leadership is about maintaining personal accountability, listening, and collaborating to come up with creative ways to do things.

What advice would she give today’s Girl Scouts?
“In a world that says you can’t, always strive to prove that you can. In a world that says you must fit in, dare to stand out.”

Raytheon Company, with 2018 sales of $27 billion and 67,000 employees, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, civil government and cybersecurity solutions. With a history of innovation spanning 97 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration, C5I™ products and services, sensing, effects, and mission support for customers in more than 80 countries.

Through a multiyear commitment from Raytheon, GSUSA launched its first national computer science program for middle and high school girls this year, and in the coming year, GSUSA will pilot its first-ever national Cyber Challenge for middle school and high school girls. These initiatives have the potential to reach nearly half a million girls in grades 6–12, many of them from military families, and they aim to prepare more girls to pursue computer science careers, including in cybersecurity, robotics, data science, and artificial intelligence.