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A Leadership Journey: Six Months In

Dana 6 month blog header

And just like that, it’s been 6 months.  

This whirlwind of a journey into the world of Girl Scouting has been eye-opening, breathtaking, and radical on every level. Each day, I find myself bracing for and embracing an avalanche of data, history, anecdote, opportunity, critique, and encouragement. This 110-year-old brand is the preeminent youth leadership development program in the world. So how do we thread the needle between nostalgia and innovation to ensure its viability for another century? 

We start with inclusion. 

From its founding in 1912 by a disabled single woman, to our 1950s national prioritization of racial integration and our early support and commitment to the LGBTQ community, the Girl Scouts Movement has been and continues to push for equitable access and justice for all that identify as Girl Scouts. This is an origin story I not only honor—I want to be held accountable for my work in continuing its trajectory.  

Because I also know that for a long time, barriers were consciously and unconsciously installed that limited the engagement of entire populations of girl-identifying youth. It is now my charge and mission to right those wrongs, create mechanisms for participation, and prioritize traditionally marginalized communities. 

Each day, I take stock of a set of personal and professional beliefs that have guided my  journey since my days at Highlander Institute:

  • Those closest to the problem are often closest to the solution.  
  • Community member, parent, and student voices matter.  
  • All students, especially the most vulnerable, are capable of excelling. 

Some examples of the ways these beliefs have been actualized during the last six months include:  

  • Securing “campership” funds for girls in foster care, sending over a dozen to Camp Hoffman for overnight camp, and covering their Girl Scout membership fees for the year
  • Securing grant funding from Mentor RI to establish “near-peer and community troop leadership development programs” for the expansion of Girl Scout troops in currently underserved communities
  • With generous support from Mount St. Charles Academy, a new full ride scholarship established for an entering 6th-grade Girl Scout— congratulations Braxtyn!
  • Piloting a new curriculum model and design for Girl Scout programming through the Providence After School Alliance at Roger Williams and Nathan Bishop Middle Schools
  • New partnerships in development with local organizations, creating participation through-ways and pipelines with Big Brother Big Sisters of Rhode Island, Girls on the Run, and Johnson & Wales University
  • Establishment of our first Spanish-speaking troop in partnership with Newport’s Conexion Latina
  • Making the new troop leader onboarding process as efficient and purposeful as possible  
  • New council hiring practices that prioritize a diverse candidate pool that best reflects our communities

At GSSNE, we say “Be a Girl Scout. Do it all.”  This “yes-and” thinking means that we as council must create efficient systems for all populations and geographies, implement the highest quality programming that is relevant and youth-led, and install continuous improvement processes that ensure we are on track.  

In my role at Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England, I am laser-focused on ensuring we meet our reach goals. The Movement is designed to help youth discover their personal best and prepare for a positive future, connect with others in a diverse world, and take action to solve problems and improve their communities. We believe that Girl Scouts belong, matter, and make the world a better place.