Girl Scouting Undergoes Historic Transformation to Focus on Leadership Development for 21st Century Girls


Sept. 18, 2006

Girl Scouts of the USA
Marion F. Swan
(212) 852-8012, mswan@girlscouts.org

Elizabeth King
(860) 355-9815, eking@crt-tanaka.com

NEW YORK, N.Y.—As it approaches its 95th anniversary in 2007, Girl Scouting is undergoing a historic transformation to modernize the iconic organization and focus on leadership development for girls in the 21st century.

Addressing each area of the organization, the transformation intends to revitalize the Girl Scout brand, create new fund-raising models, improve volunteer systems, and significantly realign the national Girl Scout council infrastructure. The monumental changes have been designed to deliver a program that focuses on Girl Scouts' core strength of leadership development, while also offering provable outcomes that benefit girls, families and communities.

In line with this vision, on Aug. 26, 2006, the Girl Scouts of the USA's (GSUSA) National Board of Directors voted to endorse a plan to realign 312 councils into 109 high-performance, community-based councils. The new structure will make the most effective use of resources to better serve local communities across the nation and deliver a superior Girl Scout leadership program to even more girls.

The National Board of Directors also endorsed a more contemporary leadership philosophy, and renewed an organizational commitment to develop leadership skills based on the values of the Girl Scout Promise and Law. This leadership philosophy is captured by the new Girl Scout mission statement: "Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place."

"In a country as culturally diverse as the United States, Girl Scouting, and our philosophy of leadership, must be inclusive and respond to the needs of girls from all communities, cultures and walks of life," commented Patricia Diaz Dennis, Chair, GSUSA National Board of Directors. "As the foremost authority on issues affecting girls, we knew we had to seize the opportunity to focus on what Girl Scouting does best, and at the same time, revitalize the organization to ensure we remain compelling, contemporary and relevant to today's girls.

"Thanks to the collective vision and support of the entire Girl Scout Movement, Girl Scouting has demonstrated what it means to truly listen to girls and react in a way that will most positively meet their individual needs."

Under the leadership of GSUSA CEO Kathy Cloninger, who took office in 2003, the transformation began by asking girls and adults from throughout the Girl Scout community what they want and need from Girl Scouting today.

"From the very beginning, this process has been a partnership between the national organization and our local councils. Our first step was to reach out to as many people as possible—girls, volunteers, staff members from throughout the organization—to hear their ideas on the future direction of the organization," says Cloninger. "For the past two years, we have taken those ideas and shaped a strategy that is transforming every aspect of Girl Scouting while refocusing on what, historically, has always been our biggest strength: developing leadership skills in girls.

"Most importantly, as a result of this national collaboration, the framework we are putting in place to deliver the Girl Scout program retains our ability to serve local communities across the country."

The Girl Scout Leadership Development Program

Girl Scouting has identified some core tenets of its leadership philosophy—discover, connect and take action—which will form the basis of all Girl Scout activities beginning in October 2008. "The ideas of discovery, connection and action reflect the Girl Scout view that leadership extends beyond holding a position of authority," says Cloninger. "In Girl Scouting, leadership is about self, others, community service and philanthropy. You can't lead well unless you really understand yourself and have your set of values very well in place."

Research, conducted from June 2005-2006 by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), shows most girls see the value of developing leadership skills and that girls define leadership in terms of the qualities a leader possesses and the actions she takes. As part of the organization's focus on leadership, GSRI will commence a research review in late 2006 to explore how girls and youth define and experience leadership today. This research review is scheduled for release in March 2007, coinciding with the 95th anniversary of Girl Scouting.

About Girl Scouts of the USA
Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls with 3.7 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouting is the leading authority on girls' healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. The organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories, as well as American girls and their classmates overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer, or donate to the Girl Scouts, call (800) GSUSA 4 U (800-478-7248) or visit www.girlscouts.org.