Friday, November 18, 2011

Houston Run-Down

Girl Scouts of the USA celebrated 100 years of history and welcomed its new chief executive officer at its National Council Session/52nd Convention in Houston from November 10-13.

The historic convention, titled Renewing the Promise: Girl Scouts in a New Century, drew some 15,000 girl and adult members, as well as noted celebrities, such as ABC News journalist Katie Couric; Soledad O’Brien, host of CNN’s In America; Robin Roberts, co-anchor of Good Morning America; three-time Grammy-nominated recording artist Sarah Bareilles; Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker; actress and philanthropist Marlee Matlin; gospel singer Yolanda Adams; and actress Monique Coleman, who starred in the High School Musical films.

Anna Maria Chávez is the CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. A first generation Mexican-American, Chávez was a Girl Scout in her native Arizona and would later become an aide to then-Governor Janet Napolitano. She has been CEO of the Girl Scout's Southwest Texas Council since 2009.

Chávez spoke with Houston Chronicle reporter Anna Gallegos about her expectations for the organization, which will turn 100 in 2012. When asked about her priorities for the Girl Scouts, Chávez answered, "What I'm very excited about is the opportunity we have currently because we are about to turn 100 years old. I have the great honor of being part of a team that is really going to start going external with our message. We're really ready to talk to the world about girls, issues that are important to them, and how we are developing leaders for this country and the world. I think it's really focusing on ... the investment in girls. What I'm talking about is really expressing the relevance of Girl Scouts for not only girls, but for this country."

Your Houston News reports that Katie Couric, a long-time supporter of Girl Scouts, first joined the organization 45 years ago in her home state of Virginia. Speaking to a crowd of ten-thousand, Couric commended the organization on 100 years of empowering women, she said the organization still has work to do. Only 3 percent of women are CEOs, but 65 percent have some form of eating disorder, she said.

“Women are half the population, let’s not waste all these brains on things that don’t matter,” she said. “Now more than ever Girl Scouts are needed to create the leaders of tomorrow.”

Later in the week, the Houston Chronicle published an editorial stating, "lately, anti-gay groups have expressed outrage that the Girl Scouts include lesbian teenagers in their definition of "all girls." And we've heard grumblings that a "known lesbian" will address the Scout convention here - a reference, apparently, to Houston's mayor, Annise Parker. It's startling to realize that an event as wholesomely routine as the mayor's welcoming a Girl Scout convention to town could ever count as an act of bravery. But it does - and it's the kind of brave inclusiveness that the Girl Scouts have always stood for. We're proud that they're here."