Thursday, December 22, 2016

Happy Holidays!

It is so hard to believe that the holidays are here and we will soon be saying goodbye to 2016 and welcoming 2017 with excitement and anticipation! As I reflect on this incredible year, I would first like to thank our more than 15,000 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 across the state. Because of you, we can continue to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make our communities and world a better place to live!

Throughout 2016, we celebrated 100 Years of Changing the World—the Gold Award Centennial. For 100 years, approximately one million Girl Scouts have earned the highest award in Girl Scouting—the Gold Award. In order to earn the Gold Award, Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors spend over 80 hours working on a Take Action project that makes a sustainable, lasting impact in their community.

 This year, we had a record-breaking number of 86 Girl Scouts throughout Connecticut who earned the Gold Award!  It has been an amazing year celebrating all of the hard work our girls do to make our world a better place. And, we can’t forget all of the work our Gold Award Mentors and volunteers put in to help them make it happen!

Coming up in 2017, we will be celebrating another centennial—100 years of Girl Scouts selling cookies! For the last 100 years, the Girl Scout Cookie Program has been built by girls! Did you know that the Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest, girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world? Fifty-three percent of female business owners are Girl Scout alumnae, and may of them got their start selling America’s beloved cookies. Stay tuned for Order Taking starting January 7! We are so excited to celebrate such an incredible milestone with tons of fun activities—and a brand new Girl Scout Cookie–this year!

Have a warm and safe holiday season—see you next year!

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

United for Good!

This time of year we like to think about our neighbors—especially those less fortunate—and how we can make a difference in our communities to make the world a little brighter. I like to take time to think about all of the amazing things that the United Way does to help those in my community and all the Girl Scout communities throughout the state. 

The United Way in each community is a network of businesses, families, and concerned individuals who are united and committed to improving the lives of their neighbors in need. They tackle homelessness, job training, and food insecurity. They help local children succeed in education, like helping them learn to read and providing them and their families with other critical resources. They truly improve the lives of others. One United Way resource, 2-1-1, is a free and confidential  web-based service that helps people across North America obtain the local community resources they may need for survival. Their ongoing work is truly amazing and I am in awe of their dedication and commitment to a better world.

What’s even more incredible is that the United Way also supports other non-profit organizations who are working towards making the world a better place for all, like Girl Scouts of Connecticut. For many decades, the United Way has been a tremendous supporter of Girl Scouts, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have them as a partner to support our efforts to help girls to thrive and succeed.

So during the season of giving, I ask that you remember all the organizations, like the United Way, that take action in our communities.  If you have the opportunity to support the United Way through your employer or in your community, know that they are doing incredible things to strengthen all our lives. Together, united, we can change the world!

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Thank you for joining us at our 20th Annual Breakfast Badge event!

On Friday, December 2, at our 20th Annual Breakfast Badge event, we honored three incredible women who truly shine as role models for our girls in taking action to make our world a better place: Elizabeth (Beth) Alquist of Day Pitney, Christine Andrews of Andrews Benefits, and Yvette Meléndez, formerly of Hartford Hospital.  As each woman told her story, there emerged a trend of how important the early influences were in their lives in guiding them towards career success and the valuable lessons they learned from adult mentors along the way. Also sharing her very personal Girl Guide journey was Kerri-Lee Mayland of NBC Connecticut who served as our Mistress of Ceremonies.

GSOFCT CEO Mary Barneby, Yvette Meléndez, Beth Alquist,
Christine Andrews, and GSOFCT Board President Trish Bowen. 
At our new location, the Hartford Golf Club in West Hartford, over 225 guests joined us as we formed new relationships over a delicious breakfast and marveled at the accomplishments of three Girl Scouts from Hartford County—Ava, Kennedy, and Lucia who have earned the highest awards in Girl Scouting. We all left motivated and to continue to support girls in any way we can, because when girls succeed, so does the world!
Thank you all who joined us Friday morning at our 20th annual event. 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 30, 2016

Honoring Women Who Take Action — Join us at our 20th Annual Breakfast Badge!

For the past 100 years, approximately one million Girl Scouts have earned the highest award in Girl Scouting, the Girl Scout Gold Award. While we have been celebrating the Gold Award Centennial throughout this year, I remain in awe of all of the amazing and inspiring things our girls do—like taking action and making sustainable, positive change.

Taking Action is the theme for our 20th Annual Breakfast Badge Award this Friday. At the event, we will honor Elizabeth Alquist, Christine Andrews, and Yvette Meléndez for being true Go-Getters and taking positive and sustainable action in their communities and professional fields. These three women are exemplary role models for young girls in Connecticut, and I can’t wait to hear their stories this week. We are also excited to have four Girl Scouts join us at the event and share their individual journeys in earning the highest awards in Girl Scouting: the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards. Guests will hear firsthand all of the work that is put into earning these awards, and the incredible things our girls do to make our world a better place!

Come join us for a morning of networking, early holiday cheer, and most importantly in celebrating incredible and successful women and amazing Girl Scouts at the Hartford Golf Club in West Hartford from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. We still have tickets available. Take a look and learn more about our honorees!  We hope to see you there.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Suddenly, it’s much cooler outside and we are seeing signs of the Holidays all over.  Like many of you, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  Besides the fact that I love to cook and enjoy a delicious meal with my family, it is especially meaningful to me because it allows me to reflect on all the blessings in my life. There are so many!

I am so grateful to work for an organization whose staff and volunteers put girls at the center of all we do. Here in Connecticut, we are blessed to serve nearly 32,000 girls and experience the joy of seeing them blossom and grow into amazing young women.  We get to see our 15,000 adult members- many of them devoted “hands on” volunteers—support the work of our Mission with passion and enthusiasm.  We see the impact of our girls on the communities where they live and give back so much.

Speaking of building a better world-- here’s something new and exciting that will make this Thanksgiving even more special!  Make sure that you tune in tomorrow morning and watch this year’s first-ever Girl Scout-themed float, “Building a Better World,” at the 90th Anniversary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, from 9:00 12:00 p.m. on NBC-TV! 

You can learn more information and see a behind-the-scenes video of our float on the Girl Scout Blog. Check it out and see all of the incredible things Girl Scouts does for girls not just here in Connecticut, but all over the world!

I wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving this year!

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Cast your vote and buy Girl Scout Cookies!

Happy Election Day! 

Today is Election Day, which means registered voters across the country will be voting for the next President of the United States! No matter which candidate you support, having the opportunity to vote is a great privilege, and we should all be out there making sure our voices are heard.

It’s incredible to think that the first Girl Scout troop started in 1912—years before women were even given the right to vote! Our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, had a vision and a dream to create a place for girls to thrive—to get outdoors and explore the world around them, like studying foreign languages, riding horses, camping, and telling time by the stars. Thanks to Juliette’s vision and persistence, girls have made incredible strides because of their Girl Scout experience!

Since 1912 and the inception of our highest award in 1916, young women have been standing up for what they believe in and taking action in the communities in which you live!
While you’re out at the polls, make sure to look for our Girl Scouts selling Girl Scout Cookies! Yes—you read that right—Girl Scout Cookies! From November 5-13, Girl Scouts will be selling Girl Scout Cookies at a number of polling and other community locations across Connecticut. Go to and click on the “Looking for Cookies” button to find a booth in your town!

Remember: When you buy a box (or two!) of Girl Scout Cookies, you are doing more than just purchasing a delicious treat –you are supporting girls in your community who will use those funds for incredible things! From service projects to camping trips, Girl Scouts in Connecticut are becoming great citizens and making strides to make our world a better place!

Happy Election Day!

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy birthday, Juliette!

Today is a big day in Girl Scouting—not because it’s Halloween, but because it is Founder’s Day! Founder’s Day is such an exciting day for Girl Scouts for we celebrate the birthday of a revolutionary—a woman who had a dream for girls and women to succeed, and made her dream a reality, Juliette Gordon Low! 

In 1912, at a time when women in the United States couldn’t even vote yet, Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low, at 51 years old, gathered 18 girls in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, to start a new outdoor and educational program for girls –the Girl Scout Movement was born.
The girls played basketball, hiked, swam, camped –they learned how to explore the world around them, like studying foreign languages and telling time by the stars. Together, they believed they could do anything they set their minds to.

Juliette started with a dream and did whatever she could to make this world a better place for girls. Did you know that Juliette sold her precious pearls in order to start the first Girl Scout troop? That’s why we wear pearls every October 31 to commemorate her sacrifice to change the lives of girls and women for over 105 years.

Happy birthday, Juliette!

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

5 Ways to Have Fun this Fall

Happy fall! Now that the weather is cooler and the leaves are changing, it’s time for me to change my flip flops to sturdy walking shoes and get outdoors!

Our national research has found that Girl Scouts who have monthly outdoor experiences really benefit. 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 off that couch and get yourself and the girls outdoors!

Here are five things I personally enjoy doing during the fall:
  1. Going for a walk/hike: There’s really nothing better than going for a walk in the crisp air and hearing those leaves crunch underneath your feet. I love going for walks with my dogs in the evening and smelling campfires and fireplaces around my neighborhood—especially if they’re roasting s’mores!

  2. Pumpkin picking: I have such fond memories of going to my local pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins with my son. Now that he’s older, I still enjoy watching the reaction of young children and their parents as they converge on the local pumpkin patch and enjoy participating in such a heartwarming family activity.
  3. Thanksgiving: Another reason I love fall is because I am able to whip out my comfort food recipes—and what better way to cook than with your family during Thanksgiving!
  4. Raking leaves: To some, this may be a boring task, but raking leaves to me is a fun outdoor activity—plus, you get a little exercise, too!
  5. Gardening:  As a summer girl, it’s always somewhat bittersweet to see the mums and other fall flowers bloom (When it comes to fall--I always say ‘mum’s the word’). Despite saying so long to my summer flowers, I do enjoy getting my garden ready for the next season. It’s always very refreshing to cut back my perennials and to turn over soil and prepare for a new season, new beginnings! 

Whatever your own fall pleasures may be, make sure you get outside and enjoy the bounty of outdoor opportunities that abound.

What are your favorite fall activities to do with your family or troop? 

Share in the comment section below!

Yours in Girl Scouting,  

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Shop at Whole Foods Market today to benefit Girl Scouts of Connecticut!

Today, do your grocery shopping or grab some lunch at Whole Foods Market at Blue Back Square in West Hartford! Today, Whole Foods Markets at Blue Back Square in West Hartford Center is hosting a 5 percent Community Giving Day to benefit Girl Scouts of Connecticut. The store will donate 5 percent of that day’s sales to the local non-profit.
Since 1912, Girl Scouts of Connecticut has fulfilled its mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.  Girl Scouts offers programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), healthy living, positive relationships, self esteem, and the outdoors, and gives girls the opportunity to gain confidence and entrepreneurial skills through its iconic Girl Scout Cookie Program. 
Through Girl Scouting, girls understand the importance of civil service, and works with their troop to take action in their communities to make lasting change. Please help support our organization and help provide girls a safe place to take healthy risks, learn from failure, and gain skills they will carry with them throughout the rest of their lives.
To learn more about Girl Scouts of Connecticut visit 

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Join us at Kick Off: Make 2017 your best Girl Scout year ever!

It’s time to get ready for back to school…and for another action-packed Girl Scout year! Through Girl Scouts, girls are able to try new things, explore the outdoors, make lifelong friends, and challenge themselves in a safe, supportive environment, all while having fun! We invite all girls K-12 to join and create memories to last a lifetime.

We can’t forget that none of this would be possible without our volunteers. Our volunteers are truly the backbone to our mission, and with their help, girls are able to build courage, confidence, and character, and use the skills they learn to make the world a better place for all.

Volunteers also reap benefits from Girl Scouting; a 2016 data report from the Girl Scout Research Institute finds that volunteers stay in Girl Scouting because they enjoy helping girls grow and reach their full potential. Volunteers help make a difference in their community; they build leadership skills and form lifelong friendships with other volunteers. It’s truly a remarkable experience for all.

We heard you!  We’re excited to return to our live Kick Off events this year—and one is today! Come join us this evening at West Side Middle School in Waterbury from 6:00-8:00 p.m. or this Saturday, August 27, at South Congregational Church in East Hartford from 11:00 a.m.—1:00 p.m. For more information visit

There are many good reasons to take time from your busy schedule to attend Kick Off:

1.    Get your own copy of the brand new Program Resource Guide filled with special events and activities for you and your girls this year.  This will give you the chance to work with your girls to plan a fun-filled Girl Scout year.
2.    Meet the staff and other volunteers to find out more specific information about how to access all the great events and activities available.
3.    Find out what is new this year! There are lots of surprises and wonderful new ways to deliver the best Girl Scout experience to our girls.
4.    Express your ideas and questions directly to our staff…make your voice heard!

We hope to see you there, and have a fabulous Girl Scout year!

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Get ready for a tasty, new Girl Scout Cookie in 2017!

Happy National S’mores Day! Today is a special day—not only are we celebrating one of the most delicious Girl Scout traditions, we are also introducing a new Girl Scout Cookie to our lineup in 2017—the Girl Scout S’mores Cookie!

In 2017, we will be celebrating 100 years of Girl Scouts selling cookies, and what better way to celebrate than to introduce a really special new cookie? You can order this new delicious cookie starting January 7, 2016!

Though the s’more has become a global phenomenon, the tradition of making and enjoying s’mores in the outdoors has been held by Girl Scouts as early as the 1920s. We are so excited for girls to celebrate 100 years of gaining entrepreneurial skills and making lasting change in their communities and provide their customers with a delicious new treat.

Now, get outside, build a campfire, and have a delicious s’more in celebration!

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Amazing girls and women + the great outdoors = a memorable experience!

What happens when you bring 24 high school-aged girls and 19 successful women professionals in Connecticut together at a summer camp?

Amazing things!

For the past several years, Girl Scouts of Connecticut has hosted Camp CEO at Camp Laurel in Lebanon. There, incredible things happen. This year from June 22-25, young women paired with their CEO buddies, including myself, to take part in a life-changing leadership program. Together, we learned about our strengths and passions, setting and achieving goals, and how each of us individually can make a positive difference in the world.  We always leave Camp CEO so excited for the future!

At Camp CEO, girls take away lessons and connections they will carry with them for the rest of their adult lives. At Camp CEO, young women learn that their passions and strengths can be transferable in their future careers. They find their confidence; they break out of their shells, and realize that they can be whatever they want to be.

This year's amazing group at Camp CEO! 

This year, the possibilities for fun and adventure were endless. We participated in traditional camp activities like swimming, kayaking, boating, crafts, horseback riding, hiking, archery, and more (phew!), but we also took on skill-building projects, learned how to do a TED Talk, interacted with a panel of impressive young professional women and participated in team building activities.

This year, we were fortunate to have GoPro cameras donated to us by the International Women’s Forum-CT. The girls quickly learned to employ these amazing little digital tools to record memories and fun activities at Camp CEO, as well as to prepare their presentations for their marketing projects.

For our main project, the girls became the marketing strategy teams for Luci Lights –totally cool solar-powered inflatable lights created by MPOWERD to support those living in “energy poverty” in developing countries. Coached by the women professionals at Camp CEO, four teams of girls created “off the charts-creative” product strategies, social media plans, and TED Talks to promote the Luci Lights.  In an amazingly short time period, they used the GoPros to create commercials and video presentations to present their work. We were all so impressed with how unique and professional these projects were! The girls are true entrepreneurs!

After Camp CEO, the superlative feedback from the women who attended tells us that not only do the girls benefit from this experience, but the CEOs do, too. We learn more about ourselves in the process: as leaders, as women, and as role models to the women of tomorrow. We grow, too. And several of the women there have been back two, three, and four times.

We ended this year’s program overlooking the peaceful waters of our pond at Chapel Point. There, two of our CEO women with Native American backgrounds led the entire group in a very special dream catcher ceremony. Each girl and woman placed her charm on the dream catcher to ask for her own special dream to come true. It was a very magical and emotional way to end Camp CEO together.

I hope to see you next year at this extraordinary program. See more photos from Camp CEO. Look for details in early January.  In the meantime, have a fun, safe, and relaxing summer.

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Camp CEO Starts Today!

Summer is my favorite time of year, and what better way to kick off the warm weather than at camp?! This week, I will be at Camp Laurel in Lebanon participating in one of my favorite programs—Camp CEO!  I have already started packing my camp gear and bug spray and look forward to leaving behind my hair dryer and makeup!

This week, a wonderful group of female executives in Connecticut and I will pair up with a group of young women ages 14-17 at camp and take part in a life changing leadership program. There, together, we will learn more about leadership, setting and achieving goals, how to take action in our communities and lives, and learn more about ourselves and our voice in this world. Not to mention, we will also participate in a number of traditional camp activities, like swimming, hiking, boating, kayaking, and making s’mores over a campfire that we built together!

Last year's group at Camp CEO!

Camp CEO is an incredible experience. Not only do the girls get to learn more about themselves and find the courage, confidence, and character to realize their dreams, but I find that I learn a little more about myself each year as well. It’s truly a beneficial experience for all!

Stay tuned next week for a more detailed account of my experiences at Camp CEO.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Monday, June 20, 2016

Congratulations to all who earned Girl Scouting’s Highest Awards!

As another Girl Scout year comes to a close, I want to take a moment to congratulate all of the Girl Scouts throughout Connecticut who have aspired and inspired others in their communities as they earned Girl Scouting’s highest awards: Bronze, Silver, and Gold.

In Girl Scouting, girls have the opportunity to discover who they are, their values, and use their experiences, knowledge and skills to explore the world around them; they connect with others who share the same vision and values; and take action in their communities to make the world a better place.

The Girl Scout Bronze Award is the highest award that can be earned by a Girl Scout Junior. By earning this award, girls have made a promise to help others, improve their communities and become the best young citizens they can be. It’s always incredible to see what girls can do—like collecting food and clothing for others in need, helping out at a local animal shelter, or beautifying a local park in their town.

The Girl Scout Silver Award is the highest award that can be earned by a Girl Scout Cadette. By earning this award, girls not only strengthen their skills and abilities, but they are learning about improving their communities and taking action, whether it is building a bench at a local state park, raising awareness about allergies and how to address an allergic reaction, and more. The older the girls get, the more in awe I am of all that they do to make meaningful changes in our world.

The highest award a Girl Scout can earn, the Gold Award, is an incredible and prestigious honor. An award with national standards, the Gold Award represents an individual's accomplishments, leadership, commitment, creativity, and personal effort contributed to make a sustainable, positive impact on their community. This year we are celebrating the Gold Award Centennial and a record number of 86 Girl Scouts across the state who earned their Gold this year!

To all girls who earned the highest awards: congratulations. And to all girls who are aspiring to earn their awards: keep at it! You are joining a group of incredibly accomplished young women who bring passion and purpose to their communities. I hope that you feel as proud as I do of what you have accomplished and also cherish the friendships and lessons you have learned through Girl Scouting.

Thank you for all that you do; you make our futures brighter by holding up half the sky.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Celebrating Girl Scouts, like Grace, who change the world!

As you all may know by now, this year we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the highest, most prestigious award in Girl Scouting, the Girl Scout Gold Award. On June 5, we honored 86 incredible young women who have made a meaningful and sustainable impact in their communities and beyond. I continue to be inspired by all their hard work and passion. Because of them, our future is so bright.

It’s an exciting time this year as we celebrate the Gold Award Centennial. Not only did we have a record number of girls this year earn their Gold Award, but one of our own Gold Award Recipients, Grace Anne Herrick of Newtown, was one out of eight girls chosen across the country to showcase her project today in D.C. at Girl Scouts of the USA’s Capitol Hill Event.

From left to right: National CEO Anna Maria Chavez,
U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Grace, and
National Board President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan
at the celebration today!
Grace and other 2016 Gold Award Recipients across the nation will join National CEO Anna Maria Chávez, National Board President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, members of Girl Scouts’ Honorary Troop Capitol Hill, and other leaders from both Congress and the administration to celebrate the centennial. 

For her Gold Award Project, Grace addressed two issues: lack of education and lack of health for children under the age of five who live in rural Nakaseke, Uganda. Grace has developed an early education program for the children of Uganda with the help of ACCESS (African Community Center for Cultural Sustainability). The community is so excited about the program that there is a waiting list. Grace will continue her work as an adult and hopes to build a school where more families can participate.

We have so many incredible girls who are doing amazing things across the state. I encourage all of you to take a look at this year’s Gold Award Recipients and continue to join us as we celebrate 100 Years of Changing the World.

Go, Grace!

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Friday, June 10, 2016

Another School Year Comes to a Close…

To the 35,000 Girl Scouts in Connecticut:

As you pack up your school books and welcome the lazy days of summer, I can’t help but be proud of all of the amazing milestones you have achieved in your lives this past year. The end of the school year means you are also bridging to a new year and possibly even an exciting new level of Girl Scouting. This is an especially momentous year to be bridging and also earning your highest awards, as it is the Gold Award Centennial!

I know many of you know Juliette Gordon Low’s story. Juliette had a vision that she wanted to do something to help girls to get outdoors and have fun, but also to become more confident and self sufficient. During Juliette’s time, girls were expected to be seen and not heard and to stay indoors doing needlepoint and learning to play the harpsichord, while boys were able to be outside and go on adventures and do fun activities.

Juliette learned about the Girl Guides while living for a brief time in Scotland and when she returned to the United States, she was determined to create Girl Scouts. She started Girl Scouts in 1912 in Savannah, Georgia with 18 girls. Today, Girl Scouts has 1.7 million members in the U.S., and you are all part of Juliette’s vision to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world and their communities better places.

When I was a girl there weren’t so many choices for after school adventures and activities, so I am really glad that today, when there are many choices, girls are still choosing to be Girl Scouts. To the adults: I am really glad you continue to support your girls in Girl Scouting.
I hope that you feel as proud as I do of what you have accomplished and also cherish the friendships you have made in Girl Scouting. Most importantly, we hope you will continue to find Girl Scouting fun and rewarding, but also don’t forget that being a Girl Scout makes you part of a very large and special group of girls and women who believe in the values that we recite in our Promise and Law.

You have the right and the power to dream about what you want to accomplish and see changed in the world….don’t ever feel you are not entitled to what you want to achieve, but also remember it will take hard work and the support of others.

To our volunteers: thank you for supporting our girls. We know what a precious commodity your time is, and your support of your daughter and all these young women is really an investment in not only their futures, but all of our futures. 

So, congratulations to all, I am so proud to be connected with all of you. I know that the future is in good hands!

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Honoring Two Incredible Women of Merit and Celebrating 100 Years of Changing the World!

At Girl Scouts of Connecticut, we welcomed the first week of June with two extremely successful events filled with celebration! On Thursday, June 2, we held our 23rd Annual Woman of Merit Dinner at the Italian Center of Stamford where we honored Mary Galligan, Director at Deloitte & Touche, and Brigadier General Tammy Smith, Commanding General of the 98th Training Division (IET). 

The Woman of Merit Award recognizes leaders who demonstrate the Girl Scout values of leadership, personal achievement, and service to the community, and Mary and Brigadier Smith do just that. It was inspiring to hear about their journeys and experiences as a woman in their line of work, and such an exciting evening for us all. Thank you to all who joined us. Learn more about the event through this wonderful video, and take a look at our photo album!

At the dinner, we had the chance to hear from Girl Scout Grace of Newtown, who shared her amazing Girl Scout Journey and her Gold Award Project with the crowd. Grace is a 2016 Gold Award Recipient, and was one of eight Girl Scouts chosen across the country to showcase her project at Girl Scouts of the USA’s Capitol Hill event on June 14 celebrating the Gold Award Centennial. We’re so proud of you, Grace!

Speaking of Gold Award, we are also incredibly proud of our other Gold Award recipients who we honored on Sunday, June 5 at Naugatuck Valley Community College. All of these girls’ Gold Award Projects—86 of them!—are so inspirational, and I encourage you to read them and learn more about how our girls are working hard to make a meaningful and sustainable change in their communities which helps make our world a better place Congratulations to all Girl Scout recipients past, present, and future. Meet the 2016 Gold Award Recipients!

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Celebrating Women who Change the World

We are pretty busy getting ready for an exciting next couple of weeks filled with celebrating incredible women far and wide who are making our world a better place!

On June 2, we will be hosting our 23rd Annual Woman of Merit Dinner at the Italian Center of Stamford. Throughout the evening, we will celebrate the Gold Award Centennial and discuss how important Girl Scouting is for our girls across the state, Mary Galligan, director at Deloitte & Touche, and Brigadier General Tammy Smith, Commanding General of the 98th Training Division (IET), will be honored with the Woman of Merit Award.

The Woman of Merit Award is given honor of Alice Pattison Merritt, an extraordinary public leader who became the first woman elected to the Connecticut Senate. Merritt was also instrumental in bringing Girl Scouting to girls in Connecticut.

Mary and Brigadier General Smith are both leaders who demonstrate the Girl Scout values of leadership, personal achievement, and service to the community, and we are so excited to hear the stories of two incredible women who are inspiring our girls to make a sustainable and meaningful change in their communities. I hope you can join us!

Speaking of girls who are making a sustainable change, on June 5 we will honor the 86 Girl Scouts across the state who earned their Gold Award at Naugatuck Valley Community College. As you know, this year is the Gold Award Centennial, so we are thrilled that we have such an incredible number this year!

We are also excited to have Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, our official spokesperson for the Gold Award Centennial, join us at the ceremony to speak to the girls about the importance of civil engagement! Please join us as we celebrate 100 Years of Changing the World!

Since 1916, approximately one million Girl Scouts have earned this highest honor, and we are excited to see how many more incredible young women will continue to change the world in the next 100 years!

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Get Outdoors at Our Summer Camps!

There is nothing more exhilarating than getting outside in the fresh air and taking in all the natural beauty around us!  So many adults and kids today are chained to their desks and computers all day and we know, deep down inside, that being active in the outdoors is good for the head, heart, and the soul. If you are like me, you probably don’t make enough time to treat yourself to outdoor adventure, even if that means just taking a hike!

According to a study by the Girl Scout Research Institute, “More than S’mores: Successes and Surprises in Girl Scouts’ Outdoor Experiences”, Girl Scouting helps get girls outdoors! Our girls are outside playing and exploring, hiking, taking field trips to outdoor places, camping, and volunteering for causes involving the environment to help make our world a better place.

The study found that our girls love being outdoors. One of the greatest pillars in Girl Scouting is our outdoor programming, including our summer camps, weekend troop camping, and programs at our outdoor properties. Our seven day camps and two resident camps give all girls in every corner of the state the opportunity to put away their electronic devices, step outside, and take a deep breath and enjoy the fresh smell of nature. At our summer camps girls can hike, swim, play games, laugh, learn how to build a fire and cook a delicious meal, practice archery, learn horseback riding and equestrian care, take part in arts and crafts, lead that silly song or cheer, and wrap up their day with s’mores and campfire 
stories with their new friends. Whew!

Summer Camp is all about sharing experiences and embracing the independence of being away from home and finding your voice. I have met so many adult women who view their time at Girl Scout camp as among the most cherished memories in their lives.

All girls K-12 are welcome to choose their adventure at any of our camps and make their own memories to last a lifetime.  We still have spots open!

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Financial Literacy Month: Mary Chats with Gina Douvas of Merrill Lynch about Financial Literacy

Inspiring Our Girls to Achieve Financial Success

As we wrap up Financial Literacy Month, there’s no better time to reflect on our partnerships with financial institutions like Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. These partnerships provide much-needed support to the over 35,000 young women we serve across the state. I recently sat down with Gina Douvas, Vice President/ Senior Resident Director, Wealth Management at Merrill Lynch, to talk about some of the work they’ve sponsored over the last few years.

Mary: For the past three years, the Soundview Women’s Exchange Chapter at Merrill Lynch has collaborated on a program we call “Money Matter$”, which sets up Girl Scouts with mentors and takes them through an annual financial literacy and career training program. Can you talk a little bit about why this program is so important?

Gina: Financial literacy is an essential skill that helps enable our youth to succeed in college, their careers, and dealing with the economic future that lies ahead. Our group firmly believes in the importance of providing the young women in our community with the skills they need to achieve financial success.

Mary: We’re so happy that you’ve made this commitment to our girls! Can you talk a little bit about the program?

Gina: Mentors are comprised of Merrill Lynch employees who dedicate their time to the program each year. Young women are educated on how to track expenses, build savings, and finding ways to give back to their community. At the same time, they are paired with these mentors who have chosen to pursue a career path in financial services, allowing them to recognize that “If you can see it, you can be it.”

 Mary: We’ve seen great response from not only the young women involved in the program, but parents are also seeing a difference. We’re working to include an additional component that will include parents, and potentially the opportunity to provide financial literacy training for the whole family.

Gina: That’s right! I’ve seen the impact myself and am looking forward to enrolling my own daughter into the program. The girls are not only taught financial literacy skills, but they also develop leadership skills and understand the importance of giving back from their mentors.

Mary: Can you talk a little bit about Better Money Habits, which is used to create some of these training materials?

Gina: Bank of America has partnered with online educator Sal Khan and Khan Academy to build The platform takes Khan’s approach to simplifying intimidating topics and applies it to topics that young people can relate to, such as how to manage student debt. We have videos and articles on the site that break down some of these issues for all ages, which is very helpful for a program like Money Matter$, and we also used the Student Financial Handbook to help create the curriculum.

Thank you Gina, and everyone at Merrill Lynch who has dedicated their time and efforts to the young women of Connecticut. We look forward to many more successful programs in the years to come!