Friday, October 29, 2021

In Memoriam, Former Girl Scouts of the USA National President Marjorie (Ittmann) Motch

We at Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) are saddened to note the passing of Marjorie Ittmann Motch, whose leadership in the national and global Girl Scouting/Girl Guiding Movement spanned four decades. 

Ms. Motch served on GSUSA’s National Board of Directors for over a decade, including in the roles of board secretary, vice president, and president. She worked adamantly to make Girl Scouts available to every girl, regardless of ethnic, racial, or socioeconomic background. She championed projects to help girls and adults understand and deal with prejudice and to expand leadership and membership among underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, citing research that highlighted the effectiveness of anti-prejudice messaging at an early age. She extolled the democratic nature of the “girl-adult partnership,” calling each Girl Scout troop an “association of equals,” and encouraged Girl Scouts to bridge generations and cultural divides through outreach programs with low-income senior citizens and migrant communities.

Ms. Motch believed that Girl Scouts was a place where girls could develop a healthy sense of identity and self-esteem, not only through the mastery of skills and positive shared experiences but also through opportunities to lead. Under her tenure, the minimum age for National Council Session participation was lowered from 18 to 14 to enable girls to play active roles—earlier—in setting the agenda for the Movement. 

She also presided over the historic National Council Session in 1975 during which Girl Scout delegates decided that Girl Scouts would remain an all-girls organization and worked to ensure that Girl Scouts had a place on the national stage as part of the United States’ bicentennial celebrations in 1976.

Her deep devotion to the value of providing girls opportunities to gain a global perspective at an early age was apparent in her subsequent years of international service. After representing GSUSA as a delegate to global scouting conferences in Canada, England, and Finland, she went on to hold leadership positions on the board of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in the 1970s and 80s and serve as director and vice president of the World Foundation for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from 1988 through 2000. 

Ms. Motch was recognized over the years with many of Girl Guiding/Girl Scouting’s highest honors, including the WAGGGS Medal for outstanding service and commitment to Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting at the world level.

Majorie Motch led a life of exemplary public service, one that included leadership in many civic and volunteer activities in her own community and well beyond. She viewed Girl Scouts as not only a richly fulfilling development program for girls but also as “an important unifying, healing social force.” She cherished the sense of community that is a core part of the Girl Scout experience, and we cherish her as an important part of our history. We are extremely grateful for her lasting positive impact on the Girl Scout Movement.