Thursday, December 17, 2015

Happy Holidays!

As we say goodbye to 2015 and welcome a new year of endless possibilities, I would like to say thank you to our 17,000 dedicated adult members and volunteers who have worked tirelessly and generously to help make Girl Scouts of Connecticut achieve its mission every day, in every zip code of the state. With your help, we can continue to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who are making their communities, towns, and our world a better place.

With the help of our resilient volunteer force, we are continuing to provide girls a safe, encouraging environment to help them to thrive, reach their goals and fulfill their dreams. Girls want to lead, but often do not feel they have the opportunity or support. We can change this by standing with them and providing girls with guidance as they discover the world around them, connect with others, and take positive action in their own lives and the lives they touch. 

I also want to acknowledge the living legacy of our Girl Scout Alumnae. Throughout the last century, our alumnae have positively affected their communities through their Take Action Projects and other forms of giving back.  They remind us of the rich traditions and impact that Girl Scouts offers today and has offered girls and women for decades.

And speaking of decades, in 2016, I hope all of you will join us in “Celebrating 100 Years of Changing the World” –the Gold Award’s Centennial. We have many wonderful activities planned to commemorate ten decades of gold, but they will only come alive with your participation and engagement.  So stay tuned!

As the New Year begins so will the launch of our Cookie Program! Starting on January 2, you will have the opportunity to order your favorite Girl Scout Cookies from our girls in person, or now, even on line!. Keep an eye out in your community for a local Girl Scout, and ask her to tell you more about our iconic cookie program. 

The story behind each box of cookies is worth sharing! To find cookies near you, you can click on the Looking for Cookies button that will be on our website's sidebar starting in January. By selling Girl Scout Cookies, our girls learn lifelong skills including how to run a business, how to market a product, and financial literacy. 

Our Cookie Program is just one of the amazing things girls participate in as a Girl Scout. But we can’t do anything without our dedicated adult volunteers and supporters! To join or learn more about volunteering, visit Happy Holidays!

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Monday, December 7, 2015

Girl Scouts of Connecticut Honors Three Women in STEM at Breakfast Badge Event

Congratulations to this year's honorees!  

This past Friday morning, at our 19th annual Breakfast Badge event in Hartford, we honored three extraordinary women who have made major strides in the STEM field. Joanne Berger-Sweeney, president of Trinity College; Manon Cox, President and CEO of Protein Sciences; and Kathy Kountze-Tatum, Senior Vice President and CIO of Eversource Energy were awarded unique badges, and shared their inspirational stories with over 250 business women and men, as well as friends of Girl Scouts of Connecticut.

From left to right: GSOFCT CEO Mary Barneby, President of Trinity College
 Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Sr. Vice President and CIO of Eversource Energy
Kathy Kountze-Tatum, President and CEO of Protein Sciences Manon Cox,
and GSOFCT President of Board of Directors Caroline Sloat.
In addition to hearing from these iconic STEM women leaders, we also heard from Natalie Gallo, an Ambassador Girl Scout from Farmington, CT, whose Gold Award Project focused on building STEM awareness and interest among younger girls in her community. Also on hand to introduce our honorees were Girl Scout Allyanna from New Fairfield, Girl Scout Megan from Marlborough, and Girl Scout Christiana from Rocky Hill, all amazing young women.

While we all left inspired and motivated, the real work must continue to help girls to succeed in building interest and confidence in choosing STEM career paths. Past and current statistics are not in their favor, and that is why they need our unwavering encouragement and support. The good news is that recent research conducted by the Girl Scouts Research Institute confirmed that girls like STEM and want to achieve in STEM fields.

While being inspired by our honorees, it was quite moving to see all of the generous support we received from those in attendance. Because of our donors, we are able to serve 35,000 girls across the state, and inspire our next generation of women leaders.  And this “sell out” crowd helped us to raise more money to support our programs than any previous Breakfast Badge event.

At Girl Scouts of Connecticut, we offer programming in robotics, rocketry, coding, financial literacy, and more. We make experiential learning in STEM fun. We strive to help girls achieve their dreams and help them know there is nothing that will hold them back. Women like Joanne, Manon, and Kathy prove just that.

Congratulations to our three honorees, and may we continue to work together and strive to inspire girls to aim high with skill and confidence.

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to Our Volunteers!

As we sit down with our loved ones this Thanksgiving, it is important to take the time to think about what we are thankful for. Some families express their gratitude by taking turns around the table, or by reflecting quietly about individuals or things they are grateful for. 

As I begin my fourth year as your CEO, I am extremely thankful for all of our volunteers. Although I try to express my gratitude personally throughout the year, I would like to take this special time to thank each and every one of you for making Girl Scouting possible for girls in Connecticut. Volunteers are the backbone to this organization, and without their tireless efforts and selflessness throughout the year, we wouldn’t be able to give our girls all of the incredible programming and opportunities that we do. Thank you.

Many of our volunteers tell me that the best thing about being a Girl Scout volunteer is that volunteers also reap benefits from the program. Not only do these individuals believe they are making a difference in the lives of girls they serve, but they are also enjoying personal and professional benefits as well. Our Girl Scout volunteers have the opportunity to make new friends, develop valuable and marketable skills, be active and get outdoors, and are a part of a supportive and everlasting, global sisterhood!

There are so many ways that volunteers can contribute to our mission—by leading troops, bringing their skills and expertise to a local Service Unit team, by facilitating adult training, joining a council-wide committee or task force, and also by delivering programming to our girls. The one thing that is universal about our volunteers is that we couldn’t bring the magic of Girl Scouting to girls without them.

We are always looking for men and women who can help us to grow our reach. If you are a volunteer and know of any enthusiastic women or men looking to make a difference in a girl’s life, invite them to join Girl Scouts!

On behalf of Girl Scouts of Connecticut, I’d like to again offer a BIG THANK YOU, and wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Girls on STEM: Survey Finds Girls are Interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Over the past 50 years, women in the U.S. have made incredible strides in non-traditional careers, but, unfortunately, we are still seeing disparities that hold us back.

A Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) study in 2012, “Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math”, finds that despite these advances we are still seeing under representation of women in science, technology, engineering, and math. Girls tend to lose interest in math and science abilities in middle school, and even if they do enjoy these subjects, they don’t often receive the encouragement to continue and excel.

The demand for qualified STEM workers is growing exponentially in the U.S. STEM jobs have grown three times the pace of non-STEM jobs in the past year, and this trend will only continue. Today, women only account for 20% of bachelor’s degrees in engineering, computer science, and physics, and only 25% positions in STEM are held by women.

The good news is: GIRLS LIKE STEM! According to the GSRI survey, 74% of high school girls across the United States are interested in STEM. The study found that girls interested in these subjects are higher achievers, better students, and have stronger support systems, such as their families, friends, and mentors. In fact, 92% of girls surveyed believed that they were smart enough to have a career in STEM.

On Friday, December 4, we will be hosting our 19th Annual Breakfast Badge event at the Hartford Club where we will be honoring three outstanding women in STEM. The three honorees, Joanne Berger Sweeney, President of Trinity College, Manon Cox, President and CEO of Protein Sciences, and Kathy Kountze-Tatum, Senior Vice President and CIO of Eversource Energy are exemplary role models for our girls.

At Girl Scouts of Connecticut, we offer programming in robotics, rocketry, coding, financial literacy, and more. We make experiential learning in STEM fun. We strive to help girls achieve their dreams and help them know there is nothing that will hold them back. Women like Joanne, Manon, and Kathy prove just that. We recently called together a STEM Advisory Committee comprised of STEM leaders from throughout the state to help us to further focus our STEM programming and prepare our girls for successful STEM careers. 

We have confident girls all around us, and one of the best ways to help them achieve their goals is to show them that their dreams can be a reality. Celebrate the importance of helping girls to excel in STEM by joining us on December 4!

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Supporting Our Girls As They Change the World

With Halloween barely behind us, we know that the holiday season will be here in the blink of an eye. As we rush around to prepare for the holidays, it is comforting for me to think about all the amazing things our girls take on during this season to help others from helping out at a local shelter to collecting canned goods for a local food drive to bringing smiles and joy to older folks in nursing homes. In the truest sense of philanthropy our girls are making their communities, and the world, a better place.

Winter is also the time of year our girls will be putting on their entrepreneurial hats and stretching their skills through our product sales programs. Through QSP, customers supported Girl Scout troops through the purchase of magazines and delicious nuts and candies. Girl Scout troops earn essential start-up money for their annual troop activities—like the holiday season service or Take Action projects we mentioned above.

As we close out another successful QSP season, we are already underway with the next anticipated event –Election Day Booth Sales! This week until Sunday, November 8, Girl Scouts across the state will be selling Girl Scout Cookies at a number of polling and other locations in your area. We know that girls have fun selling cookies, but we also know that the cookie program builds lifelong skills in the girls who participate. This iconic program gives our girls the opportunity to participate in a hands-on leadership and financial literacy program where girls gain five specific skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.

And many of our booths will offer customers the opportunity to support service women and men around the world as part of the Girl Scouts of Connecticut’s Cookies for Heroes program! There’s no better way to kick off the holiday season by thanking our wonderful service women and men who serve overseas and at home!

By supporting our cookie program, not only do we give girls the opportunity to learn these skills, and earn money for their goals, but we also help girls grow into more confident and courageous young women.

Check out this link to find a booth near you! Happy selling!

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Birthday, Juliette Gordon Low!

Happy Founder's Day to all Girl Scouts! 

 Today, Girl Scouts across the nation are not only putting on their best, scariest costumes to celebrate Halloween, they are also celebrating the 155th birthday of our founder, Juliette Gordon Low.

This day is so important to me. Throughout my life, Juliette has always been an inspiration of mine. Over 100 years ago, Juliette had a vision: to give every girl the same opportunities that boys had.

In March of 1912, Daisy, as she was commonly known, formed the first troop of Girl Guides in Savannah, Georgia. They played basketball, hiked, camped, learned how to tell time by the stars, learned outdoor survival skills, and studied foreign languages. Through developing these skills, Juliette helped girls believe that they could do anything, and encouraged others that they could too!

Because of her determination to help girls thrive, girls across the globe have seen a lasting impact in their lives. Juliette’s vision has grown into a global movement that includes nearly 3 million Girl Scouts in 92 countries and more than 59 million alumnae, all forming a lifelong sisterhood who works toward making the world a better place.  

Juliette believed in her dream of Girl Scouts for all girls so strongly that she sold a strand of pearls to fund Girl Scouting. Her purpose and passion was so strong that she sacrificed something dear to her heart for the benefit of others. To this day we continue to encourage our girls to spread kindness and philanthropy in everything that they do in Girl Scouting to honor her vision.

Today, make sure you say, “Happy Birthday” to an incredible woman who continues to make a lasting impact on millions of girls and women. Thank you, Juliette, for helping create a sisterhood of women proving that courage, confidence, and character can make the world a better place!

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Get Outdoors!

Have you been outside yet?

Fall is officially here, and that means that the heat wave has gone and the weather is cool! What better way to celebrate the change of the season than to be outdoors with your troop?

Our national research has found that Girl Scouts who have monthly outdoor experiences really see a difference. They are stronger problem solvers, better challenge seekers, and are more likely to recommend Girl Scouts to their friends. So, Troop Leaders and volunteers: get outdoors!

A scenic view of the lake at Camp Laurel in Lebanon, CT

As a city girl, having the opportunity to explore the outdoors is essential to me. Each summer, I unplug from the busy world and make my way to Camp Laurel in Lebanon to participate in Camp CEO. This is where I and female executives from around the state experience the great outdoors and the ultimate camping experience with Girl Scouts across the state. 

In a world of smart phones and screens, it’s good to get away from it all. During that weekend both groups are able to hike, canoe, kayak, and sit around a campfire making s’mores and sharing stories and forming lifelong relationships. I know the women who attend enjoy the experience just as much as the girls and we all come away with fresh perspectives, new skills, and valued friendships.

So, put away those electronic devices and soak in all of the gorgeous fall foliage on a camping trip. Breathe in the fresh air!! Camping helps girls build outdoor skills, including building a campfire, pitching a tent, outdoor cooking, and basic outdoor survival skills.

Whether it is rock climbing, horseback riding, archery, or canoeing on a beautiful lake,  or just doing an outdoor activity, girls will find that they gained a stronger sense of self, self confidence and self esteem, and a stronger bond with their fellow Girl Scouts. So, get outdoors today, and discover what Mother Nature has to offer!  

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Our Volunteers Love Being in Girl Scouts, Too!

We are always looking for volunteers!

Very often, when I ask adult volunteers why they volunteer for Girl Scouts, they did it initially to build their bond with their daughter or daughters. Then, they also elaborate on how they have benefited significantly from their own Girl Scouting experiences as an adult. 

There’s no question that Girl Scouting helps build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place – but it also helps adult volunteers grow as well. 

Not only do our volunteers find that they are making a difference in the lives of girls they serve (which in and of itself feels pretty good), they find that they harvest personal and professional benefits of the Girl Scouting experience. This includes making new friends, getting active and outdoors, leadership experience, learning new skills, and being part
of a supportive community.

When you take a look at the hard and soft skills that our volunteers exhibit--e.g., leadership, organization, communications, event planning, financial management, conflict resolution, marketing –to name only a few—it is clear that their Girl Scouting experience will rival any “for pay” job as a resume builder. We hear time and again that being a part of the Girl Scout organization in one’s community builds long standing friendships and has a discernible positive impact on the community. 

And let’s never forget how our volunteers touch the lives of tens of thousands of girls every year in every zip code across the state. With more dual income and single parent households and with the time demands placed on families, we especially value the time and effort that our volunteers put in to make sure girls thrive and succeed.

While our national organization states we have more than two million girl members nationwide, there are still more than 300,000 girls on waiting lists to join Girl Scouts, but can’t because there are not enough volunteers. In Connecticut, we have several hundred girls waiting to join a troop. That number is only growing. 

If you know of someone who would enjoy being a part of our wonderful organization, have them reach out to us at While we ask a lot of our volunteers, we know their rewards for volunteering are many. Join us and you can be the mentor she will always remember.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Monday, October 5, 2015

Welcome to the GSOFCT Blog!

Girl-led activities and learning by doing helps girls succeed

Wouldn’t you know that just when I decided it is time to do a monthly blog for Girl Scouts of Connecticut, Fast Company magazine proclaimed in their latest issue that blogging is dead? Oh well –I have always been a little behind the times, and I know that there is so much going on around your council that I am choosing to ignore Fast Company’s proclamation. Welcome to the very first Girl Scouts of Connecticut blog: we have a lot to blog about!!

Let’s talk about what makes Girl Scouting special.  As we reach out as we do this time of year to potential Girl Scouts and volunteers in our schools, churches, and communities throughout the state, it is important that they see the “value added” of Girl Scouting—i.e., what are the things that make Girl Scouting different and special vs. other activities that girls can engage in?  I like to stress that Girl Scouts is not only fun, but most importantly, a girl-led and “learning by doing” organization. In Girl Scouts, our girls are able to discover themselves in a broad variety of activities from among which they get to choose.  This very factor reaps amazing results.

According to recent findings from the Girl Scout Research Institute, when Girl Scout activities are girl-led, cooperative, and hands-on, girls are more likely to become better at conflict resolution, problem solving, team building and cooperation, and developing a more positive sense of self.
Feeling empowered can be difficult to some girls, especially when in a multi-gendered classroom.  Girls who participate in girl-led activities feel empowered to take on leadership roles and take action in their communities to make the world a better place. Girls who experience learning by doing, and who are part of a girl-led program, can learn to take their rightful seat at the table and see firsthand how their creative and innovative ideas can make a difference in the world.

Through our broad array of relevant programming, including STEM, healthy living, anti-bullying, and self-esteem building activities, we encourage girls to tap into their interests and talents, learn new things about the world around them, and we help lead them lead themselves to success.  And that’s only part of the reason why Girl Scouting is so magical!

Yours in Girl Scouting,