Last week Girl Scouts across Arizona had the amazing opportunity to meet head Girl Scout, Anna Maria Chavez, affectionately known as Eagle One. Ask anyone who had the chance to speak to her, even for a few minutes and they will tell you, she is truly amazing. Whether talking to Girl Scout staff, leaders, Ambassadors or to little Daisies- Anna Maria made all those she met feel special. Her energy and presence lit up the room and when making the rounds, Eagle One continued to ask “how am I doing? Tell me because you’re my boss. I work for girls. I work for you!”
Here’s to the woman leading Girl Scouts into our next century. With her at the table, there is no doubt Girl Scouts will emerge as the preeminent organization for girl leadership and that together, we will get girls there.
In case you missed out on the Anna Maria Chavez fever that has taken over our Council and Southern Arizona, here’s an article from Maria Polletta at the Arizona Republic who sat down with our national CEO for a Q&A.
Question:You’ve had an impressive career in other sectors. How have those roles prepared you for your current position?
Answer: I’ve been very fortunate to have had a career for almost 20 years now as a public servant … and to have worked for a lot of great people, a lot of great leaders who taught me that at the end of the day, it’s about how you give back.
I’ve been able to be part of organizations that, on a daily basis, are thinking about who can they help, who are their customers and how can we make this country stronger. (My current role) allows me to continue this course of public service.
Q: What has changed about the Girl Scouts since the time you first joined?
A: The organization itself definitely has the same core mission, but the things around the girls have changed.
Girls now have technology in a way that we’ve never seen in the past. When I grew up in Eloy, I think the big invention was the microwave. But now, the girls’ world is a global world.
Q: What specific goals or initiatives will you pursue as CEO?
A: We recently launched … the largest advocacy campaign dedicated to girl leadership in the nation’s history, called “To Get Her There” (togetherthere.org). It’s focused on creating a gender-balanced leadership model here in the United States.
What we’ve found is, although girls see leadership in their communities, many of them unfortunately don’t see the (specific) leadership model they aspire to and consequently they sometimes opt out of the opportunity … If half the population isn’t involved in creating solutions to the problems in the United States, then we’re missing the opportunity to groom their intellect, their ideas and creativity around these solutions.
So essentially, what we’re doing with that campaign is engaging adults from across the spectrum, whether they’re military, whether they’re leaders in government, whether they’re CEOs and businesses, whether they’re faith leaders, to … invest time, invest dollars into supporting girls … so that in 20 years, they’ll be prepared and excited to be part of these solutions for the U.S.
I’d also like to ask people to spare some time, some expertise to volunteer for the local Girl Scout councils. When I was in Texas (serving as CEO of Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas), I found girls everywhere who wanted to be Girl Scouts, but if I couldn’t get an adult to volunteer and step up and say “I will be there to support them,” we couldn’t bring in more girls.
The reality is, girls are amazing. Sit down and have a conversation with them about some of the issues that they’re tackling within Girl Scouts. They’re thinking big. They’re thinking solutions. And we’re hoping that we can reach more, because right now we only serve 8 percent of girls ages 5-17 in the United States. Imagine if we doubled that percentage.
Q:How do you view your role in terms of influencing local troops?
A: My role is to be external, to be what I would call the “team leader” for our national movement. I truly believe that the Girl Scout story is a quiet story.
Think about the millions of community-service hours they give every year without fanfare. Think about the cookie program — every year, the girls raise $760 million, which they reinvest back into their local communities, into homeless shelters, into animal shelters, meal sites, community-service projects for the parks.
I see my opportunity as a leader of this organization as one to tell their story.