As the premier leadership organization for girls, Girl Scouts is committed to providing girls with a myriad of opportunities to build their skills, develop courage, and try new things. We’re also committed to connecting with community partners who share the same goals.
Last month, our high-school Girl Scouts had an amazing chance to participate in mentor-guided workshops at Deloitte University Impact Day. Senior Genetha C. attended and shared her experience with us.
As Girl Scouts, when we see a problem, we find a solution. On June 9, I experienced an amazing day with other Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, being mentored by employees of Deloitte University. We explored problem-solving in business and technology through a series of group activities and workshops—Finance 101, Introduction to Consulting, Technology in Business, Leadership in Business—and discussions with mentors on education and summer internships.
In Finance 101, we received an empty worksheet to create a budget. There was a Powerpoint that guided us in choosing which kind of home and car we want in the future, as well as other necessities we think are important. We had to figure out how much we can save, taking fixed expenses, transportation, and more into consideration.
The workshop Introduction to Consulting covered management information, analytical applications, and record management and how to improve those functions; while Technology in Business taught us which devices you can use to be successful in a business.
One of my favorite workshops was Leadership in Business, where we watched cool videos about leaders in history. We learned that we are all leaders in our own way. I also learned the acronym “P.D.I.G.,” which stands for Pioneer, Driver, Integrator, and Guardian: The Pioneer loves exploring; the Driver loves a challenge; the Integrator is all about connecting; and the Guardian values stability and strives for accuracy. As Girl Scouts, we can relate these to the “G.I.R.L.” acronym. Which one are you?
In one of the mentoring sessions, we were challenged with a unique issue: One of the worker’s cousins has a known brand of shoes outside of the country—she wanted to know how we, as Girl Scouts, can make her brand more known in America: whether we liked the style, how they could improve sales, how they have problems with current exchange, and more. Together, we came up with questions to get to the root of the issues, such as: How many shoes has she sold over the year? How long does it take to make the shoes? What makes the shoe special?
Together, we were able to come up with solutions to help customize the shoes, make them seasonal, get experts to work on the website, and more. Groups presented their solutions to mentors who worked for Deloitte—and those who presented received cool Deloitte steel bottles.
I want to thank Deloitte for the advice on business and helping us develop more leadership skills. Also, I am happy GSGLA gives us fun and helpful programs that benefit us every day.
Thank you, Genetha! We also want to thank Deloitte for giving our girls the chance to develop their leadership and business skills during this exciting day of impact.
The school year’s winding down and troops are bridging to the next level—but we’re gearing up for the Gold Award Ceremony on June 3, where we’ll be honoring 256 Girl Scouts who’ve earned Girl Scouting’s highest achievement: the Gold Award. In order to earn the honor, Girl Scouts must complete a large-scale Take Action project that makes a sustainable impact on their communities and beyond. Only a small percentage of Girl Scouts achieve the prestigious Gold Award, which qualifies them for scholarships and other incentives.
Each year, Girl Scouts of the USA selects 10 exceptional Gold Award Girl Scouts as National Young Women of Distinction—girls whose projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership and addressed a local challenge related to a national (or even global) issue. Every council submits nominees for the national distinction. We spoke with GSGLA’s 2017 nominees to find out how they embody what it means to be a G.I.R.L., making an incredible difference in the world. Read their stories about their Gold Award projects below.
Cherry Ying, Troop 2935, Ambassador Girl Scout Girl Scout Journey: “I’d never heard about anything like Girl Scouts until I came to the U.S. three years ago by myself from China. When I learned that Girl Scouts helps girls make the world a better place, I joined right away.” Inspiration: “Growing up in Ningbo, China, I’d never seen a hospital with hand sanitizer; quite frankly, I didn’t even know hand sanitizer existed. During my years in the U.S., I interned for a pediatrician, where I was amazed by the amount of hand sanitizer everywhere. This really motivated me to bring Americans’ strong health awareness to my hometown.”
Summary: “My project, ‘Hand in Hand,’ took place in both the U.S. and China. I fundraised and brought 90 bottles of hand sanitizer to community hospitals in Ningbo, created brochures and posters, hosted school lectures, and taught residents in the hospitals how to properly use hand sanitizer.”
Impact: “My project help jumpstart a government-sponsored program to distribute hand sanitizer every month to community hospitals.” Future: “I want to become a decision scientist (a type of data scientist) and use mathematics, equations, data analytics, and technology to solve the world’s existing problems, such as cancer.” Why Go For Gold?: “Pursuing the Gold Award can be a great conclusion to the Girl Scout journey and an amazing start of something big in the future.” Fun Fact: “My first language is not Mandarin or Cantonese or English—it’s Ningbo dialect. It’s funny that even though [in China] we all speak Chinese, if we speak in our own dialect, people from another region won’t understand us; thus, it’s like a completely different language.”
Ellie Fausett, Troop 1751, Ambassador Girl Scout Girl Scout Journey: “I’ve been a Girl Scout for the past nine years, and Girl Scouts has been a big part of my life since the girls in my troop are my best friends.” Inspiration: “I work at Glendale Adventist Medical Center in the pediatric occupational therapy unit. I help get kids in and out of their jackets and coats because they do not have fine motor skills. The existing tools [for teaching the kids] were not engaging and very repetitive.” Summary: “I wanted to combine teaching dressing skills with playing dress-up, so I made sensory integration dressing vests. After sewing the vests by myself, I taught therapists about them and showed them how they can be used. Also, I created a website, dresswithoutstress.help, where adults can go and learn about my project and how sensory integration therapy works.”
Impact: “My project helped improve the lives of the children who use the vests since they can learn the skills they need faster. Also, other individuals who read my website will learn about fine motor therapy and different ways for dressing assistance.” Future: “I would like to go to college and study early childhood brain development. I would then like to become a pediatric occupational therapist.” Why Go For Gold?: “My Gold Award taught me so much about myself. I would recommend this experience to anyone who wants to grow as a person and help change their community.” Fun Fact: “I have taken four years of French and hope to become fluent. Also, I am learning sign language so I can communicate with the children I work with who can’t speak.”
Bridget Gehan, Troop 1912, Ambassador Girl Scout Girl Scout Journey: “I started Girl Scouts in 2006 when I moved to Los Angeles from Morristown, New Jersey and it was the first place I felt accepted in my new life. It has been an incredible experience that I would not change for the world.” Inspiration: “‘Empowering Teenagers Against Alzheimer’s (ETAA)’ was inspired by my grandpa’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2014 and the heartbreaking journey that I went through afterwards. I looked for something to help me understand what was happening to Pop Pop and how I could help, but everything available was for small children who couldn’t comprehend the disease or for adults focusing on medical, financial, and insurance issues.”
Summary: “ETAA is an internet-based educational outreach program for teenagers and young adults who have been touched by this disease in one way or another. In creating this program, I had to do in-depth research about Alzheimer’s, interview scientists, social workers, and countless teenagers to get an accurate perspective of the entire problem. I then spent months storyboarding, filming, interviewing, and editing until my project was perfect.” Impact: “Since the official induction of ETAA into the Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles program, more than 800 people have been reached and learned from my work. These people are in 21 different countries on six different continents. Susan Galeas [the president and CEO of Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles] commented on one of my videos: ‘Incredibly successful way to educate the general public and a younger generation about this insidious disease… Your commitment and passion are making a difference!’”
Future: “I want to go to a good college that has a strong program in business, public policy, or political science. I would love to work in politics and government to help make the world a better and safer place. It is my dream to be president of the United States, but I would also love to work as a senator.” Why Go For Gold?: “Every girl should pursue their Gold Award because it is not only a gratifying experience, but a learning one too. My Gold Award taught me how to effectively solve problems and gave me the tools and courage to do it. [But] the most important thing the Gold Award gave me was the drive to finish and the understanding of how I can use that drive in my future.” Fun Fact: “I have been working in my school’s journalism program for two years and will be one of two co-editors-in-chief of my high school’s blog and newspaper next year.”
One of the hallmarks of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience is our cookie program. Through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, the largest business entrepreneurship program for girls in the country, our girls learn the 5 Skills and gain confidence and initiative. The cookie program lays the foundation for a lifetime of success for our girls, and motivates them—more than anything—to keep trying.
The indefatigable persistence of our girls pays off. A labor of love for everyone involved, cookie season is not easy—and we recognize this. To honor our top-selling Girl Scouts, we provide a variety of special rewards. So far, I’ve had the pleasure of joining our go-getter Girl Scouts on two occasions: our celebrations for the Elite 1000 (girls who sold 1,000+ boxes) and Club 500 (girls who sold 500+ boxes).
Our Club 500 members enjoyed an exclusive Girl Scouts-only day at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor on May 20. Nearly 2,000 girls, accompanied by their adult chaperones, swam, splashed, and explored the park, which was closed to the general public on this sweltering day. Believe me, there were plenty of envious people when I told them what fun we had in the water.
At the Happiest Place on Earth, 340 Elite 1000 members, along with their parents, enjoyed a magical Disney day on May 6. Our Girl Scouts and volunteers experienced the Disney Y.E.S. (Youth Education Series) program, starting with a special breakfast and getting a behind-the-scenes look at Disneyland and California Adventure. Our girls and their parents then had full rein to enjoy both parks.
The fun doesn’t end there. Girls who sold 1,500+ boxes of cookies will participate in our S’more Adventure Weekend (June 10-11) at Camp Osito Rancho in Big Bear. I look forward to a special dinner and campfire with the girls on Saturday evening. Plus, I’ll have the privilege of lunching with girls who sold 2,000+ boxes on June 21—who’ll also be treated to a limo ride as we share stories of cookie success! I’ve never handed out so many CEO special patches in one season. It has been such a joy for me to be with so many proud and accomplished girls and their families who support their participation in our program.
Thank you to all of our cookie bosses who’ve worked so hard, and to the parents and volunteers who’ve made it possible for them to pursue their dreams. Together, we accomplished so much during the 2017 cookie season, including breaking our own council record: more than 5 million boxes of Girl Scout Cookies sold! Plus, we donated more than 100,000 boxes to Gift of Caring—which we also celebrated with a special cookie drop-off at Bob Hope USO. Gathering together to celebrate our servicemembers as they arrived from Camp Pendleton was a highlight of our season.
The Girl Scout Cookie Program is life-changing and uplifting, and we encourage all our girls to participate. The 2018 cookie season starts next January—stay tuned for more information! In the meantime, we encourage you to read more about the program on our website, and get excited for next year!
Yours in Girl Scouting,
Lise L. Luttgens
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles
It is with great delight and excitement that I am writing to announce that today, Sylvia Acevedo has been named the National Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of the USA after a six month national search.
Sylvia, a lifetime Girl Scout, rocket scientist, and STEM educator, is a longtime advocate for underserved communities and girls’ and women’s causes. She was a member of the GSUSA Board of Directors from 2009 to 2016 and an officer and member of its Executive Committee.
Committed to Girl Scouts’ mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place, Sylvia has been involved with Girl Scouts since her childhood in New Mexico.
In Sylvia’s words, “This life-changing experience showed me what leadership looked like and enabled me to pursue leadership as a goal; I am a product of Girl Scouting.”
Over the last nine months as Interim National CEO, Sylvia has led the Movement with authenticity, energy, vision, and passion, taking a special interest in reaching more girls and in outdoor and STEM programming—areas closely aligned with GSGLA’s 2018-20 Strategic Plan. Sylvia attended GSGLA’s 2015 ToGetHerThere luncheon, and most recently, provided the keynote address on the State of the Movement at our 2017 Annual Meeting. She also attended our Volunteer Recognition Ceremony where she honored 200 volunteers and personally greeted most of our 600 attendees and guests.
Sylvia has been widely recognized for her accomplishments, with significant honors that include most recently California Legislative Latino Spirit Award. Sylvia was one of the first Hispanic students, male or female, to earn a graduate engineering degree from Stanford University—an MS in industrial engineering—and she holds a bachelor of science degree with honors in industrial engineering from New Mexico State University.
We are proud to welcome Sylvia as our next National Chief Executive Officer and look forward to her sharing her vision in her new role at the Triennial Convention in Ohio in October. Please join me in congratulating Sylvia: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours in Girl Scouting,
Lise L. Luttgens
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles
“Girl Scouts is all about the girls… but if you don’t have volunteers, then the girls have nowhere to be.”
As we celebrate National Volunteer Month, GSGLA is honoring the stellar women and men who dedicate countless hours to our mission. One outstanding example is Cindy Bernsdorf, who received the Thanks Badge at our Volunteer Recognition Ceremony, one of the highest honors bestowed on volunteers.
A lifetime Girl Scout, Cindy embodies the Girl Scout Promise and Law and has made a long-lasting impact on the Movement here in Greater LA. Today, she serves as the lead for the Communications Go Team, but her Girl Scout journey began in second grade, when her mom was her troop leader.
Years later, Cindy returned to her Girl Scout roots as a leader for her older daughter’s troop and “fell in love with [the program] because I didn’t realize as a girl there was a beautiful structure [to it],” she says. “Girls could have opportunities to do all these things they’d never done before.”
Over the course of the next decade, Cindy’s Girl Scout career included volunteering at the service unit level where she served as a recruiter, a consultant, service unit manager, area manager, council trainer, and more. Cindy says she particularly enjoyed being a liaison between the staff and service units, and “getting all the information from the council, since I’m a person who loves to have information” (which makes her a natural fit for the Communications Go Team!).
After she rose through the ranks of various operational jobs, Cindy became a member of the council’s board of directors. Her tenure coincided with the merger that resulted in Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. She played an instrumental part in ensuring the transition to Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles went as smoothly as possible, particularly in ensuring a volunteer recognition system was in place. “Volunteers need to feel that what they’re doing is important and appreciated,” she says. “They need to see the impact of what they do and how that feeds down to what everybody wants—a great program for girls.”
For the last several years, Cindy has served as the lead for the Communications Go Team, a position that has fueled her number-one passion: supporting volunteers. The Go Team has developed and refined materials to streamline communications across the council. “I want volunteers to have an easier time, to be recognized, and to be able to do what they do with the least amount of problems,” says Cindy. “Obviously Girl Scouts is all about the girls… but if you don’t have volunteers, then the girls have nowhere to be.”
Cindy wholeheartedly encourages others to volunteer for Girl Scouts—not only for the longstanding friendships you form, but also the important skills you acquire: “I can’t say enough about the things I’ve learned that I wouldn’t have done. There’s something there for everyone.”
We’re so thankful to Cindy for her years of service to our council and Movement, as well as her innovative thinking and tenacious spirit. Congratulations on earning the Thanks Badge!
Want to learn more about volunteering for Girl Scouts? Visit our website.
“As you empower others, it reflects back on you, and it builds you without your knowing. It’s only in time you see how much you’ve changed.”
We all know Girl Scouts exists for girls, but it exists because of volunteers. Throughout April, we’re recognizing our amazing, dedicated volunteers across the council, and profiling some of them right here on our blog.
One of the highest honors Girl Scouts can bestow on a volunteer is the Thanks Badge. Longtime GSGLA volunteer Sandra Hardy has provided outstanding service to the council and the entire Girl Scout Movement for years—which is why she received the award at our 2017 Volunteer Recognition Ceremony.
Sandra is currently an adult educator, lead for the Outdoor Program Go Team, and member of several other Go Teams. But her Girl Scout story started when she co-led her daughter’s troop in kindergarten. She eventually became a troop leader, a position she held for 14 years—even after her own daughter graduated. That’s because of the strong bonds she fostered with the girls, whom she empowered to make decisions: “It was very girl-led, very girl-driven. I let them pick all the activities and I provided a safe environment or site.”
One of her fondest moments happened shortly after she formed a large pathway troop with girls from across Santa Clarita Valley, when her daughter was in middle school. To ensure the girls started off on a positive foot, Sandra organized an inspirational (albeit challenging) weekend: one focused on rock climbing and rappelling! According to Sandra, “The girls were terrified, and we had to work together. Within a few months, everyone was still working together and being respectful, even if someone else had a different idea. The whole experience changed my life, and I didn’t realize how I had affected the girls until they all graduated.”
Even after graduation, the girls still keep in touch with Sandra, with one even reaching out recently for leadership tips for a presentation: “So here we are again, working together like we did in the troop.” As the lead for the Outdoor Program Go Team, Sandra says she runs the team the same way she led her troop: “We’re equals; it’s okay if someone doesn’t like your ideas—you accept it and move on.”
Sandra holds many roles across the council, and recently made an indelible impact with the creation of the index for Volunteer Essentials. She along with another volunteer, Linda Harmon, combed through numerous keywords and phrases, and optimized the index for all users, using the “perspective of a new leader who doesn’t know Girl Scout wording yet.” The index now serves as a baseline for future versions of the guidebook.
The Thanks Badge recipient, who is also nominated for Santa Clarita Valley Woman of the Year, says Girl Scouts has been nothing short of an enriching, empowering experience—not only for the girls, but also for herself. Sandra recently landed a job as an EMT, and believes the confidence she gained through Girl Scouts made her career change possible: “As you empower others, it reflects back on you, and it builds you without your knowing. It’s only in time that you see how much you’ve changed.”
We’re so proud of Sandra and appreciative of her years of service to our girls and council, as well as her candor in sharing her experiences.
To learn how you can inspire and motivate girls through volunteering, visit our website.
As Girl Scouts, we’re all about challenging ourselves, trying new experiences, and exploring our interests. Recently, dozens of GSGLA Seniors and Ambassadors participated in the first-ever Girl Scout Startup Weekend (held in partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs and Techstars). Ambassador Girl Scout Dagny S., who is also a Gold Award recipient, took part in Startup Weekend and shared her experience with us for the blog.
In GSGLA, it seems like the opportunities never stop coming! I just experienced the most amazing weekend with dozens of other high school-age Girl Scouts, being mentored and coached by business leaders at a Startup Weekend. The event description on the GSGLA website had said we would “…pitch ideas, form teams, create a prototype, and participate in a Shark Tank-style pitch competition… be mentored and judged by successful business and thought leaders.” I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but it definitely sounded like something I should try!
When I arrived Friday evening, I was honored to interview keynote speaker Jemie Sae Koo onstage. Ms. Koo is one of the top 100 most-followed chief marketing officers on Twitter (she even tweeted about us, check it out), and has accomplished so many things that honestly it is hard to keep track of them all! She was easy to talk to and her confidence and success were inspiring. After our “eat and meet,” we did some fun activities to learn about team-building (I will never look at spaghetti and marshmallows the same way again!) and how to make a good pitch.
On Saturday, we pitched our ideas to the group. I was disappointed my idea didn’t get chosen, but jumped in to be part of a team pitching a winning idea. I didn’t know any girls at Startup Weekend before I got there, but we formed a working team and started collaborating pretty quickly. My job turned out to be developing the business plan and marketing. We worked all day creating a prototype, and mentors also came in that day to help with application design and business models.
On Sunday, the teams finished developing their ideas, and I represented my team at the business mentoring session. Also, Glen Liu, an intellectual property attorney, gave a great presentation on how to create an effective presentation for a pitch. I thought Mr. Liu’s presentation was one of the most valuable parts of the weekend. Our team then improved our presentation and together we practiced our pitch. Later in the day, the judges arrived to hear our pitches, and my team was super excited to win first place! We happily claimed our award and enjoyed a nice dinner with everyone looking great in uniform.
I am grateful that GSGLA provides these kinds of opportunities for us, and I am especially thankful to Elizabeth Chadwick and Bethany Wylie (who also helped me a ton as I navigated the Gold Award process last year) for organizing this amazing event. Thank you all so much!
Congratulations to all our G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders) who participated in Startup Weekend, and huge thanks to our mentors, judges, and guests who guided our future CEOs over 54 hours and gave them feedback. Here are the full results:
1st Place: Line Up, an app that allows users to play games with others waiting in line at amusement parks
2nd Place: 21st 60’s, a company that solves the problem of costly designer jeans—customers send in their old jeans and the company facilitates embroidery of the jeans and sends it back to the customer
3rd Place: Reel Squishy, a sea creature-themed children’s toothbrush with a toothpaste reservoir; give it a squeeze and it dispenses just enough toothpaste
Best Design & Best Presentation: Save Our Soles, an app that solves the problem of shoes of the same size actually being differently sized
Honorable Mention: U Got This, a peer advice website, app, and newsletter that provides a safe space for teens to give positive advice to each other
Honorable Mention: Chaos Unraveled, a website and business facilitating video STEM tutoring between high-school students
At GSGLA, we have multiple opportunities for older girls to take the lead like a Girl Scout while discovering new interests and activities. Visit our website to learn more.