Girl Scout Council Realignment News
Southeast LA Girl Scouts join Girl Scouts of the USA in historic transformation
Local Council to merge with Girl Scouts - Audubon Council
NEW ORLEANS (September 18, 2006)
As the 95th anniversary of Girl Scouting approaches in 2007, the Girl Scout Council of Southeast Louisiana joins Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) in a historic transformation to modernize the iconic organization and focus on leadership development for girls in the 21st century.
For the past two years, girls and adults in southeast Louisiana have been among thousands nationwide who voiced their opinions and shared ideas to decide the future direction of Girl Scouting. The conclusion: the organization, which since 1912 has inspired 50 million girls and women, must seize the opportunity to revitalize the Girl Scout Movement to remain compelling, contemporary and relevant to today's girls.
On Aug. 26, 2006, Girl Scouts of the USA's (GSUSA) National Board of Directors voted to endorse a plan to realign 310 councils into 109 high-performance, community-based councils. The new structure will make the most effective use of resources to better serve the local community and create more opportunities in Girl Scouting for even more girls. As part of this national realignment, the Girl Scout Council of Southeast Louisiana will join with the Girl Scouts - Audubon Council, currently headquartered in Baton Rouge, to form one high-performing Girl Scout council serving about 25,000 girls by 2009. The merger, which begins officially in April 2007, will take approximately 12-14 months to complete.
"This transformation is so important to the future of Girl Scouting, and couldn't come at a better time for girls in Louisiana," said Jackie Alexander, chief executive officer at the Girl Scout Council of Southeast Louisiana. "While the national organization is shepherding these changes, our two councils have been engaged since the beginning. So as we move to a high-performance system, we not only retain but strengthen our ability to serve the local community, which has always been our top priority."
Audubon Council CEO Christy Reeves agrees. "Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and all the communities in between have come together in unprecedented ways post Hurricane Katrina. As the connection between the cities has strengthened over the last year so has the sisterhood between Audubon and Southeast. Audubon has been serving displaced girls in our communities and the Southeast team has been working right alongside us to assure their girls continued to receive the benefits of Girl Scouting.
"The jurisdictional lines that Katrina blurred will now just disappear as we work toward joining the two councils," Reevescontinued. "With the recommended merger, both councils have the opportunity to build on the work begun in the aftermath of the hurricane. We look forward to continuing to capitalize on the many skills and talents each team has in order to offer an even stronger, more relevant program to the girls in eastern and southeastern Louisiana."
MEETING THE NEEDS OF GIRLS
"In a country as culturally diverse as America, 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. "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 2004, 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.
THE RENEWED GIRL SCOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
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 to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.
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."
"It's important that Girl Scouting provides girls with experiences that enhance their leadership skills in a way that's fun and relevant to their lives," said Alexander. "As a national Movement, we've defined the framework for such an experience, and the Girl Scout Council of Southeast Louisiana looks forward to engaging with girls to bring this new and exciting leadership philosophy to life."
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 the Girl Scout Council of Southeast Louisiana and Girl Scouts - Audubon Council:
The Girl Scout Council of Southeast Louisiana serves the parishes of Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, and Washington. Girl Scouts-Audubon Council serves the parishes of Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana. For more information about Girl Scouting in southeast Louisiana, please contact the Girl Scout Council of Southeast Louisiana at (504) 733-8220 or visit www.girlscoutssela.org.
About Girl Scouts:
Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls with 3.7 million girl and adult members worldwide. Founded in 1912, 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 in every corner of the United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as well as destinations abroad. For more information on how to join, volunteer, or donate to Girl Scouts, call (800) GSUSA 4 U [(800) 478-7248] or visit www.girlscouts.org.
# # #Media Contact:
Marianne Burdette, Director of Communications, Girl Scout Council of SOutheast LA, at (504) 733-8220, ext. 226 or firstname.lastname@example.org or
Donna Tate, Coordinator, Core Business Strategy/Special Projects, Girl Scouts - Audubon Council (225) 927-8946, ext. 241