Results tagged “CEO” from GSSA Leader Blog: The Virtual Volunteer


The 2017 Cookie Program will soon be in our rear view mirror, as we head into awards season and start to dream about the fun of summer camp. However, as we move into these last few weekends of booth sales, I want to encourage you to keep pushing and help your girls meet their goals. We have some great opportunities with the long President's Day and National Cookie Weekends ahead.

I've been out there with you, and I understand how long those days of booth sales in the cold, wet or heat can be.  Winn Dixie can be a crazy place on a rainy, cold, windy Sunday afternoon with a group of girls!

During this sale, our staff has worked hard to support you, with check-in phone calls and our mid-sale survey.  You gave us some great information to build on for next year, and some solid feedback about how things are going.  We are glad so many of you have had a great sale, so far. And we have listened to you.  As a bonus, we are offering $25 in Program Credits for every 25 cases of cookies picked up between Feb 15 and March 5. These program credits can be used for troop supplies in our stores, council events, and to offset membership expenses. Enjoy this bonus as a thank you and your girls for your hard work!

I've had the chance to visit many of our booth sales in the past few weeks and had some fun conversations with both girls and adults.  I love that every Daisy wants to tell me which cookie not to buy (clearly, Lemonades aren't big in the kindergarten and first grade set), and the older girls are eager to share what their plans are with their cookie earnings.  I've had some great feedback from volunteers and parents about incentives and good booth locations - and of course we always commiserate about the weather!

We hope that you and your girls have had a great time this year.  Our goal is that the Cookie Program be as easy for our Girl Scout families as possible, and we will continue to solicit your feedback and partnership to help us make this happen.  In the meantime, if there is any way we can do to support you, please let us know. 


New things are coming - and it's going to be BIG!

GSSA is joining with GSUSA and councils across the nation in a new way of engaging and communicating with volunteers, families and girl members. The project is the Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI) and it's all about Girl Scouts becoming more customer friendly!

In the coming weeks, we will be telling you all about Volunteer Systems, the new volunteer toolset, and what it will do for you.   From a faster and easier joining and renewal process to improved resources for volunteers, these improvements are interactive and user friendly!  Troop leaders will have access to the Volunteer Toolkit, a digital resource that will help you plan meetings and badge work, right down to the supply list and the minute-to-minute agenda.  This is a game-changer for us - and it will be available in time for 2017-2018 registration. We can't wait!

This exciting process includes a refreshed Girl Scout website that will launch on March 3.  This site will be easier to navigate and streamlined to focus on what is most important to you.  In addition, it will have a great mobile site that you can access on your phone or tablet, which is something we have needed for a long time.

The future is bright for Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama, and this new way of doing things will refocus our work on serving you and our girls better.  We are your partners in Girl Scouting and are looking forward to sharing these exciting new tools with you soon!


I love watching girls succeed - of course, I do.  More than that, I love the opportunities I have had as CEO and COO of this council to watch girls set their sights high and reach long and hard for their goals.  It's amazing what a girl can do.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of sitting in on the final interview for one of our girls pursuing the Gold Award, which is the highest award in Girl Scouting.  I was amazed by the young woman, Maya, who came before our committee.  Just a sophomore in high school, Maya completed a fabulous project focused around the need for and awareness about service dogs in our community.  Not only has she raised the most adorable little guy around, Adobe (check him out on Facebook at CCI Adobe V), but more than that, Maya reached thousands of people, making them aware of the important role service dogs play for millions of individuals across the world. 

There are many other girls across southern Alabama who, like Maya, have pursued their dreams of helping others through our Girl Scout Awards Program, which starts with the Bronze Award for Juniors.  We encourage all girls who are Juniors and up to work toward earning higher awards.  As the mother of a recent Bronze Awardee, I can tell you it is rewarding for both the girls and their families.  I also would be remiss if I didn't mention that girls who earn the Gold Award, in particular, are often eligible for scholarship money for college, and it's a great component to add to their resumes throughout their career.

We have a designated staff member, Jeannie Napper (, who does a wonderful job of leading our girls and their adult advisors through this process. Please visit our website or contact Jeannie to learn more about how your girls can participate. 


I hope you all had a great first weekend of cookie booth sales. While I wish the weather would have cooperated a little more (actually, a lot more) for us, the intrepid girls I saw selling were having a good time, which is what it's all about.

One of the many things our girls learn from the cookie sale is business etiquette.  As we head into these long weeks of booth sales, it's good to remember that a positive, polite, and friendly attitude is important.  Demonstrating this kind of behavior starts with you and me.  As Girl Scout parents and volunteers, it's important we remember that, at each interaction with a potential customer, our girls are watching.  They look to us to model the behavior we wish to see from them.

As a Girl Scout mom, I am horrified when someone is rude to my daughter or her friends at a booth sale -- or won't answer the door of their home on Walkabout Weekend (when there are five cars in the driveway...!), but it's my job and yours to remind our girls to stay positive, smile, and return rudeness with kindness - even if we have to grit our teeth to do it. 

Thank you for supporting our girls in their entrepreneurial efforts and for teaching them lessons that will last a lifetime.  Together, we are building stronger young women every day. 


What are your girls going to do with their cookie proceeds?  I love asking girls what their goals are for cookie season, and I've gotten some great responses over the years. 

I remember the first year our daughter sold cookies and the discussion those sweet kindergarteners had.  First, they wanted to go to Paris, then Disney World, and then Krispy Kreme (our daughter proudly led the charge on that one!).  They had a great time selling cookies and then they did go Krispy Kreme -  and the fire station and to paint ceramics, among other things.  The girls loved watching all of their hard work come to fruition, and they also were delighted that they had a hand in choosing what they would do to celebrate.

Our girls dream big when it comes to these major cookie-funded decisions.  We've had girls go to all sorts of places (Our Chalet or Pax Lodge, anyone?), complete projects to support some great causes, and simply have fun in their own backyard.  Help your girls lead the making of these decisions.  They have great ideas, and they also learn about budgeting and even conflict resolution.  Making a goal at the beginning of the sale gives girls something to work toward and be excited about.

So, where will your girls go this year?  The time to decide is now!


The cookies have arrived - just in time for a nice warm up of our weather!  We hope that you will have a chance to get outside and enjoy this weekend's warm temps and sunshine and take part in our Cookie Walkabout Weekend.  I'll be out on Saturday, myself, with my daughter, and we are looking forward to it!

Speaking of cookies, we need a great sale so that we can continue to present excellent programming for our girls, and we know that your hard work is critical to this effort. If there is something we can help with or a question we can answer, please let us know.  Our product sales team is here to help!

Time for resident camp will be with us before we know it, and we are delighted that so many girls (more than 50!) have already registered for camp.  We are looking forward to a great year, with lots of fun planned and a great new camp director (who's no stranger to most of you), Cheryl Miller. Start making plans to attend now.  We can't wait to see you at Scoutshire Woods or Kamp Kiwanis in June.

As many of you know, our Thin Mint Sprint was cancelled due to the potential for ice and the low wind chill last Saturday morning.  Our team was up and ready to greet racers when the news came that the Mobile police were asking folks to stay inside and off the roads.  We have rescheduled to April 8, with details to come!  However, girls and volunteers who registered should pick up their T-shirt and gift bag at the Mobile office as soon as possible.  The T-shirt is too cute, and you won't want to miss having one. 

Have a great Walkabout Weekend!


Happy New Year!  I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday break.  We had a great time with our kids and extended family.  Although I admit getting both kids back into their routine this week has been hard.  Our two-year-old begged me on Tuesday morning to "pwease, pwease put my jammies back on, Mommy!" I bet many folks felt the same way that day!

Back at GSSA we are excited to start a new year, and we have so many great things going on this month.  On Saturday, our Thin Mint Sprint 5K will be presented in Mobile at the University of South Alabama.  It's going to be chilly, but so much fun. Please come and join us if you can!  Here's a link to more information: 2017 Thin Mint Sprint.

In case you haven't noticed (ha, ha), the cookie sale has begun!  Cookies should be in troop hands by this time next week, and we are hoping to have a great sale.  We've had a lot of excellent media buzz about the new cookie, which is a good start. Don't forget that girls who sell 25 boxes of cookies are eligible for the entrepreneur discount for programs and resident camp.  Also, girls who sell 800 boxes will receive $175 in program credits toward resident camp, council programs. At 1,600 boxes, girls receive another $175 in credits.

Don't forget that our Walkabout Weekend is Jan. 14-16.  This is a great time for girls to get out in their neighborhoods with their fellow troop members.  Decorate your red wagon, your scooter, or even your golf cart and have some fun selling cookies the "old fashioned" way (i.e. like we used to do it when we were kids!).

Be sure to take a Walkabout photo during Walkabout Weekend featuring your Girl Scout or Troop/Group as she/they go door-to door selling cookies, and email your photo(s)to by the end of the contest (February 24). We will place your photo in a Facebook photo album and the photo that has the most likes will win the contest. We will post photos beginning January 23, so the sooner you send them, the more time for everyone to like them!  The winner receives a $50 GSSA shop gift card!


It's almost that time!  The holidays?  Well, yes - and I, for one, can't wait for some family fun and special times with our daughter and son.  It's also almost time for ... you guessed it, cookies!

I want to remind everyone that preorders start on Dec 26 (and not before then - we want to be fair to all of our Girl Scout sisters!). We have some great cookie merchandise in our shop, both online and at the service centers.  Be sure to check the cookie pages on our website for troop marketing resources and other important information. Everything you need should be there, and if not, please feel free to call us.  We will be happy to assist you and your girls throughout the sale.

GSSA closes for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 23, and we will re-open on Tuesday, Jan. 3. We hope that you enjoy some well-deserved time off, as well, during the holiday season.  On behalf of our staff, I want to thank each of you for your work to lead our girls into the future.  We are grateful for your love of Girl Scouting and can't wait to begin 2017.  It's going to be a great year!


Did you know that the Girl Scout Cookie Sale turns 100 this year? What an amazing accomplishment that our cookie sale started with a great idea from one troop and grew to become world's largest girl-led entrepreneurship program.

I love the story of how the cookie sale started back in 1917, when girls from the Mistletoe Troop in Oklahoma, began selling homemade cookies to support their troop.   By 1922, Girl Scouts of the USA was encouraging troops to sell cookies as a fundraiser, and by 1936, our national organization began licensing bakers to make Girl Scout Cookies.  The rest is history!

To celebrate the 100th year of Girl Scouts selling cookies, we will promote this special occasion throughout the sale. Most notable, we have a new cookie, the S'more, which has all the flavors of the classic snack and is creating a great buzz.  I always gauge the potential success of a new cookie by how quickly it disappears from my house, and when I brought a few S'mores home for my husband and children to try, they vanished in record time to rave reviews.  I've also heard good feedback from volunteers and folks in our community who have tried them, so we hope they will fly out of our pantries and be a great success. Keep your fingers crossed!

Try Digital Cookie this year.  It's a great tool for you and your girls. Your Girl Scout can earn an online patch by selling 15+ packages by using COCO and/or COCOdirect. Volunteers can use Digital Cookie to share links on Facebook, manage reports, and use many more great tools.

Cookie drive-thru's are back this year! These were so much fun last year and got some great publicity for us.  We hope we've worked out all the kinks and will offer more strategic locations this year.  Please help us locate drive-thru locations in your area that you think will help drive the sale. Drive-thru location signup will be through SNAP, just like a regular Cookie Booth Sale, and you can get the drive-thru equipment through your service unit manager.

We are excited about the 2017 Cookie Sale, and I hope you are, too!


I want to thank each of you for the support you have given GSSA during the past year.  We have seen many successes in 2016 and watched our girls do incredible things. They are AMAZING!

This special time of year, in particular, we know that our Girl Scouts are doing wonderful things in their communities.  It does my heart good to see the "attitude of gratitude" our girls have in serving others.  Girl Scouts know the value of making their community a better place, and we see examples of that all year long. 

Please share photos and stories of the special things your troop is doing to help others during this season on giving. We would love to share them with others through social media and other outlets. Simply send these items to

My family and I would like to wish you a wonderful holiday season, filled with great joy and excitement.  We have two children at our house who are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa, so we, like many of you, definitely plan for lots of fun!  I hope that this holiday season brings you time enjoy these special moments with those you love most. Best wishes for a wonderful 2017! 


As Thanksgiving nears, our thoughts inevitably turn to the many things for which we are thankful.  On my list, of course, are the obvious ones, like family and special times with them. I'm also perennially grateful for good books, delicious food, and wonderful places to visit.   This year, though, I feel especially fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to serve you.

Our staff is thankful every day that we are able to make the world a better place through service to girls.  We also know that this would not be possible without the dedication and support of our volunteers.  You are the glue that holds Girl Scouts together, and I want thank each of you for the work that you do.

I hope you take some time this holiday season to think about the many blessings in your life.  Please know that our staff and I count you as one of ours.


What can you do to make the world a better place?  Can you give your time?  Your money?  Your help in spreading the word about a worthy cause?

It's the season of thankfulness and giving, and while we are pondering our many blessings, it's also a great time to think about how you can make a difference.  As Girl Scout parents and volunteers, we are focused on how to help our girls learn the importance of giving back to their communities, so it just makes send that we should do the same.

During the holiday season there are many ways that you can make a difference for the girls of southern Alabama. Here are some ideas to get you started!

  • Participate in Giving Tuesday, which takes place on Nov. 29 and is a new kind of holiday tradition. This special day provides us with the opportunity to help others, with the gift of time, donations, gifts in kind, or your own voice.
  • Make a donation, either monetary or in kind to our end-of-the-year campaign or give a gift. monthly. You can also give a memorial or tribute gift in honor of someone special.
  • Share your time with us!  We need volunteers to help with programs and with in-office work.
  • Purchase a brick paver to honor a favorite troop or loved one at Kamp Kiwanis.
  • Use Amazon Smile to purchase items on
  • Make a gift to our Campership Fund to help a girl in need attend camp.

There are so many ways to help our girls succeed.  Together, we will make the world a better place!



Think Halloween is just about ghost and goblins?  Definitely not!  As the days turn cooler and the 31st of October draws near, my thoughts inevitably turn to our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, whose birthday is that day.

Born in 1860, Juliette (or Daisy, as she was known) grew up in Savannah, Ga.  A fateful meeting in 1912 with Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts, inspired Juliette to establish Girl Scouts that same year. Telephoning a cousin from her home, she announced, "Come right over. I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!" I just love that quote...who can resist her enthusiasm?

From that first gathering of a small troop of 18 culturally and ethnically diverse girls, Juliette broke the conventions of the time--reaching across class, cultural, and ethnic boundaries to ensure all girls had a place to grow and develop their leadership skills. 

I love to talk with children about Juliette, and there are many aspects of her life that they find entertaining.  They love hearing the story of how she sold one her most treasured possessions, her pearls, to launch the Girl Scouts.  They think it's totally cool that she was born on Halloween, and never cease to find it amazing that some of her hearing loss was due to have a piece of rice thrown at her wedding become lodged in her ear. Mostly, they are amazed that a single woman could start such an amazing organization.

Thinking about Daisy makes me proud to be a Girl Scout and inspires me (and I hope you, as well!) to continue our work to help girls develop the leadership skills they need to make our world a better place.

This birthday week, I hope you and your girls will take a moment to remember our founder and the wonderful legacy that she has bestowed upon us.  May we all live up to her great expectations...Happy Birthday, Juliette!


How can it be almost November already?  The leaves are falling, cooler air is moving in, and it will be the holidays before we know it.  As usual, I find myself wondering where the time has gone.  Thank goodness, I've at least purchased Halloween costumes for our kids (we have a fireman and a fairy this year), and our Thanksgiving plans have been made. The rest will fall into place!

Before October slips away, I want to remind you that the deadline for Fall Product Sales is coming soon (see your Troop Fall Product Manager for the exact date). The sale is going well so far, but we need your help to make a strong finish.  Participating in the Fall Product Sale is a quick and easy way to provide start-up funds for the year and get your troop off to a great start. It's also a great way to purchase some holiday goodies and gifts ahead of time. 

Fall program events are off to a great start, but make sure you register for upcoming events soon, as they are filling up.  Events with deadlines soon include: Outdoor Badge Day at Lanark (featuring the new Outdoor Art badges), Night Moves, Hyundai Tour, GS Day at Auburn Football, and Cookie University. Wing It! registration has already closed, due to reaching our maximum.)

We are delighted to have a new Program Planning Manager, Jenny Kurtz, who will work out of the Montgomery office. She and our new CFO, Bob Buss, started work on Monday, and we are so glad to have them on board! 


Leadership - That's my Girl Scout hashtag!  As Girl Scouts, you work together as a troop to make things happen.  Here at the GSSA office, it's much the same. Recently, our staff members ordered T-shirts as a fun way to build team spirit and to share what each of us loves about Girl Scouting. 

Each person chose and purchased their own color of T-shirt and text (glitter vs. no glitter was a very hot topic!) and picked a one-word hashtag that describes Girl Scouting for them. The hashtags chosen range from #believe, #inspire, and #courage, to #character, #memories, and #creative, among many others.   There was excitement in the air the day our shirts arrived. We couldn't wait to see what our colleagues had ordered.  In nearly 14 years working with Girl Scouts, I don't think I've ever seen a project that so energized our staff as a team. 

Now, we want to encourage you to tell us what your hashtag is.  Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and show the world what Girl Scouting means to you!




A beautiful fall afternoon at Kamp Kiwanis is about as good as it gets. As a child, one of my favorite memories of Girl Scouting was our annual troop trip to KK.  And if you don't believe me, I have a picture of second-grader Karlyn with my troop in front of one of the Pioneer Unit tents sitting in my office!

I spent last Sunday at this special place watching girls sail, zip line, canoe, and generally have a fabulous time.  The weather was fine and the blue water of Lake Martin simply sparkled.  It reminded me of the precious times to be had at our four camp properties, each of which has its own charm and character.

I want to encourage you to seek out the beauty of Camp Scoutshire Woods in Citronelle, with its wild magnolias, pitcher plant bog, and spillway, which is the perfect place to play.  Camp Sid Edmonds in Bay Minette has a fabulous lake and great facilities, particularly for those who might be a little apprehensive about camping.  Meanwhile, Camp Humming Hills in Elba, our largest property, has miles of hiking trails and you can even climb to the highest point in Coffee County!


We are lucky to have such wonderful outdoor spaces for our girls, and I encourage you to use them - even if it's just for a day trip.  We work hard to keep the prices reasonable for troops and will continue to do so in the future.  However, we must balance this with an effort to make certain that the council is covering the rising costs of maintaining these properties.

Starting this week, we will have new pricing for day use and troop camping for our camp properties.   (Troops that made reservations before October 1 will use the previous rates.) These increases are quite modest, but will help us ensure that we are able to keep our properties in good condition and that they are safe for use by our girls and volunteers.   It has been many years since GSSA increased its camp usage fees, so we hope you will understand the need for us to make this change.

I hope you have a wonderful time in the outdoors this fall!


"... And be a sister to every Girl Scout." I am forever reminding our 10-year-old that it's not enough just to recite the Girl Scout Law from memory, but we should strive to live by it each day. I appreciate the values these simple statements remind our girls, but more than that, I love seeing them put these principles for living into action, which is exactly what our girls, volunteers, and staff recently did.

During August and early September, GSSA engaged both our girls and our communities in a special campaign to collect donations for our sister Girl Scouts from Louisiana who were victims of the recent floods.  The Sister-to-Sister campaign received more donations than we could have possibly imagined and garnered an incredible amount of press and community support across the council.  It was an amazing act of sisterhood!  Our Director of Marketing and Communications Meghan Cochrane and Kamp Kiwanis Camp Ranger Mike Breshears delivered an enormous trailer load of supplies to Lafayette in late September, much to the delight of our sister Girl Scout council, Girl Scouts of Louisiana - Pines to Gulf.  I want to thank each of you for participating in this important effort and demonstrating the importance of being a sister to every Girl Scout to our girls.

Community service has been a foundation of Girl Scouting since its earliest days. Its value is one of the most important things we instill in the girls with whom we work.  It teaches girls that, even at the youngest ages, they can make a difference in the world around them and right the wrongs that they see.  This, in itself, is a powerful message that will stay with them throughout their lives.

Thank you for being our partner in making the world a better place through Girl Scouting.


Fall means Fall Product around here!  As a parent, I know the thought of selling one more thing (cookie dough, anyone?) on behalf of your child might make you cringe.  However, our daughter has sold Fall Product for the last five years, and it is the easiest of all the sales in which she participates.  I promise!

Not only is Fall Product super easy, it can be handled completely online.  You simply have your daughter type up an email (or you can have her dictate it to you if she's too little), pop a cute Girl Scout picture of her onto the page, and email this out to your friends and family.  They have the choice of buying either nuts/candy or magazines.

At our house, we buy the candy to use for teacher gifts, or holiday tokens.  My husband's relatives eagerly await the Deluxe Pecan Clusters and Fruit Slices each year. We also love magazines, as do our friends and relatives who live out of state, so our daughter always sells plenty of those. It literally takes less than an hour of her time or mine and she does it all ONLINE.

If your daughter or troop hasn't sold Fall Product in the past, please consider doing so.  It's quick and easy, and the products and girl prizes are great.  It's the perfect way for the troop to make some start-up money for the year. Be sure to try the new Honey Roasted Mixed Nuts (my family's new favorite!) and the Black Forest Trail Mix.  Both are delicious.  The Dark Chocolate Caramel Caps with Sea Salt are tasty, too.

Happy selling, everyone!



This week, our daughter started the year in her new troop.  She was excited and nervous, just as most fifth graders, like her, would be.  It was particularly bittersweet, as she had been in the same troop for five years until it disbanded this spring.  I'm happy to report that it was a great night, and our sweet girl left excited and happy.  Meanwhile, I heaved a huge sigh of relief (sound familiar?!).

I know many of you are having these same experiences with your girls at this time of year.  It's always exciting to be a part of those first meetings, where the girls are getting to know each other and starting to make new friends.  It is so full of promise and fun!

The beginning of the Girl Scout year also means that it's time to register your girl and yourself as a volunteer or parent.  This is critically important! Being registered allows your Girl Scout to attend council program events and camp offerings, along with participating in the Fall Product and Cookie Sales.  No girl may participate in these activities if she is not registered.  Unregistered girls and adults are not covered by our Girl Scouts of the USA insurance, which would be very problematic should an accident occur.  Beyond that, Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama and GSUSA require that all girl participants be registered - period.

Again, please remember to register by Oct. 1. We hope your Girl Scout has a great start to this new GS year!  


Fall is almost here (thank goodness!).  I hope you are as ready as I am for cool breezes, pumpkin spice everything, SEC football - and the best thing of all, Girl Scout programs! We have so many fun things planned for our girls in the next few months. 

Whether your girls like to do cool science activities, explore the outdoors, or celebrate their craftiness, we have just the event for them.  Our many offerings this fall include a day trip to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, ChemScouts and Kappa Delta Badge Day at the University of South Alabama, a family-friendly event at the Dream Field Farms Pumpkin Patch (my children are so looking forward to this one!), a badge day at the Alabama Wildlife Federation's NaturePlex featuring the new Outdoor Art Badges (11/5; details coming), and our annual Girl Scout Day at Auburn Football.  There is so much to choose from that there is something for every taste!

As you know, it's also membership recruitment time, and what better way to spread the fun and leadership opportunities of Girl Scouting than by bringing a friend to these events?  Just have your child's friend register as a Girl Scout, and they can attend any of these events as an individual member, or (even better) they can join a troop.

I can't wait to see you out and about across the council this fall!


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