Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo Opens Up About Her Own Mentors

CEO Sylvia Acevedo Opens Up About Her Own Mentors

Sylvia Acevedo

I really looked up to my mother, of course—she was really my first mentor. My Brownie troop leader also had a profound impact on me; I first discovered my love of space and astronomy on a camping trip with my troop, when she pointed out to me the constellations and all the systems that were out there for exploring.

My troop leader later encouraged me to earn my Science badge, which I did by building and launching an Estes rocket, after much trial and error.

I took something so powerful away from that experience: hey, I can do science! I can do math! It was because of the interest I’d sparked at Girl Scouts that I started taking science and math electives in school.

I found a lot of inspiration as a child in the life stories of historical figures I encountered at the public library. Clara Barton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller George Washington Carver, Florence Nightingale—I learned their stories and it gave me not only hope, but the path forward. The library and the librarians showed me a world of opportunity and introduced me to others who also faced feelings of isolation.

Now that I am a CEO, I am still aware that there are a lot of barriers inhibiting women from advancing. So one thing I always try to do is get around these and make sure that there are other women who come with me as I advance. I really believe in giving everyone a fair shot. If I learn something because I got to be one of the first, I want to make sure there are opportunities for others as well. The reason? You always want to be certain there are good people coming up behind you. So my advice to other women is this: pay it forward and ensure a more inclusive group of people are at the table in the future.

Sylvia Acevedo
CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA, and former NASA rocket scientist