CEO: September 2011 Archives

jasmine.jpgMeet Jasmine!   We would like to welcome Jasmine Jones  as our new public relations specialist.   A freshly minted graduate of Alabama State University, Jasmine comes from Selma and will work out of the Montgomery office.   Jasmine loves working with children and can't wait to get started meeting our girls and volunteers.

 

If your troop has an activity or event coming up that you would like us to publicize,  you can reach Jasmine at jjones@girlscoutssa.org.


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It's not all about you ... Recently, my husband and I were having a nice Saturday lunch out.   I got up to get something, and when I returned, he was chuckling.   When I asked him what he was laughing about,   he said the couple near him was having an argument.   She had offered him part of her food; he took it and proceeded to consume a great deal of her meal.   She was so taken aback that she lost her temper and said, loud enough for everyone to hear, "It's not all about you; it isn't always about you."  

Since then, it has been a joke between us. When someone does something insensitive or unconsciously one of us says, "It's not all about you," which always brings a laugh.   When I first moved to Alabama, I had a board member say, "oh it is so wonderful what Girl Scouts does for women," meaning the volunteers.   I asked her if that, the volunteers, is what she thought Girl Scouts was about. Yes was her response.   Since then, there has been a philosophical shift in the organization -- that it is about the GIRLS, not the leaders.   That doesn't sound like a huge difference to most of you, but it is a difference nonetheless.   

On occasion, I do meet volunteers who seem to believe the Girl Scout experience is all about them.   I've had a running battle with staff members who say, "She isn't like that with the girls."   My response is always that, I believe if a volunteer behaves that way with me, she behaves that way with the girls.  We value our volunteers, and girls would not have the Girl Scout Leadership Experience if it weren't for the generosity of the 3,500 adults of this council.   But what we do is "all about the GIRLS."   It is our future and something we should remember at all times.

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Coping with frustration ... Have you ever had a really bad day?   Have you gone to something and not had your expectations met?   Did you want something very much and not get it?   As adults, we have had to cope with all these things.   And we're lucky that someone, our role model, taught us how to do that. 

Role models come in good and bad examples.   I can remember situations as a child where I saw an adult respond to something, and thought to myself, when I grow up, I'm not going to do something like that.   When I was in higher education, I used to worry that today's college students were not well equipped to go out into the "real world."   Their parents would call and talk to me about concerns, when, in fact, many of those students were 21 years old. They were adults and had a voice.   I used to be more interested in what students said to me than their parents.   I wanted them to share their concerns.   As an educator, I paid more attention to their concerns than many of their parents.  

In Girl Scouting, we want our girls to have voice.   We want them to be able to cope with the frustrations, unmet expectations and experiences that come their way.   The Girl Scout Leadership Experience stretches girls.   It moves them out of their comfort zone to try to do things they might not otherwise try.   If sometimes they fail, which they do, these are also teachable moments.   As a role model and leader, you have the ability to turn a bad situation into a learning experience.   We won't always get what we want.   Life is a roller coaster of wonderful things, and unmet expectations, disappointments and challenges.   Hopefully, as the adult in their world, you are able to assist girls in how to respond to life's hard knocks with courage, confidence and character.

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Thanks for giving back!   It's almost fall, and our staff members are running full tilt!   We seem to have a lot of interest in Girl Scouts this year, which is always a delightful thing for us, since we believe girls can change the world.   

Lately, we've had some great illustrations of our girls making their community a better place.   We had a troop at Camp Scoutshire Woods last weekend, making Gypsy Glen more accessible.   This troop has a member with limited mobility, so they wanted to make improvements there for everyone.   Another troop cleaned front and back yards at the Montgomery office.  They pressure washed the outside of the building, pulled weeds and raked leaves.   I'm always grateful for that, since I stay there when I am working in the Montgomery area.    

Thanks to these groups for making the council a better place!


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We've been working on the budget the past few weeks, and it is always a struggle, trying to balance precious resources with more needs than we can address.    The staff members are usually modest in their requests.   The offices have worn carpets, and I'm a stickler for trying to keep our utility bills down by not running air-conditioning units or leaving lights on when we don't have to.  We simply don't spend money on anything other than the girls we serve unless we have to do so. 

At a recent training session, a new staff person sat behind some volunteers and received some interesting insights.   Their running conversation, while the presentation was going on, was about how much money the "council" took from "their" money.    It was unpleasant enough that she asked another staff person who they were. 

 As the CEO, I always struggle with how to put these issues in the best light.   The "council" doesn't horde money.   I believe it is my job to stretch every cent this council receives to serve the largest number of girls we possibly can.   A $2.4 million budget sounds like a lot of money, and it is.   However, just as your family income probably doesn't stretch as far as you would like, so the $2.4 million budget does not stretch as far as we would desire. 

We work hard to put comparable amounts of money into each camp property, recognizing that some camp properties have more to begin with than others.    This council has 36 bath houses, 36 buildings, hundreds of acres of trees, and miles of dirt and gravel roads.   Just as an example, our monthly telephone bill is $4,000.    So, when you look at the order of magnitude, $2.4 million isn't very much to spread over our 9,000 girl members.   I understand there is always a balance between recognizing and embracing what is the greater good (i.e. good for all girls of this council) and the good of your troop, but I would like to think that most volunteers understand that, in a $2.4 million budget, very little is discretionary.    

We don't do extravagant things. Last year what funds we had stabilized roads at Camp Scoutshire Woods and made cabins and unit houses ADA accessible at Camp Humming Hills.   I had a volunteer very unhappy with the cost of our strategic learning process, which was dictated to us by GSUSA.  This was not a decision we made, and we conducted that process as required.   Most of the volunteers that I talk to understand that most of the funds raised through fall product sales and the cookie program provide funding for everything we do.   This is all a direct result of girl power.    Thanks for all you do to make this endeavor a success.


liz_brent.jpgAnna Marie Chavez, the recently named incoming CEO of GSUSA, is an accomplished woman!  I was very pleased to hear on the teleconference last week that she was selected by the GSUSA Board of Directors. 

Anna Marie is from the new breed of council CEOs.   An attorney, she has worked in politics and is skilled at advocacy during a time when our attention is turned to giving girls voice.  Someone told me she even has a council patch girls receive when they meet the CEO.  

Anna Marie is another CEO who blogs regularly to work to keep in touch with her constituents.   I was at a meeting with her, somewhat briefly, but she recalled my name and details about our council, and this is while she is the CEO of her own council.  

I believe she will provide the type of leadership for "the Movement" to serve today's girls and have us all working at "girl speed."  For more information about Anna Marie, please see her biography.

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