News Column

Hispanic Girls Find an Edge in the GSA

July 15, 2013
anna maria chavez
Anna Maria Chavez, CEO, Girl Scouts of America (photo: Girl Scouts of the United States of America)

Anna Maria Chavez, 45, took over as the first Hispanic CEO of the Girl Scouts of America in 2011, after serving as president of the Girl Scouts in Southwest Texas.

She is happy with the increase in Hispanic girl scouts since 2000.

"I am a product of this organization. As a small girl in Arizona, none of the women in my Hispanic-American family had a cultural connection with the Girl Scouts. However, the opportunity came when my mother thought the Girl Scouts would be an excellent way to help me succeed in school," said Chavez.

Chavez was raised in a Mexican-American family in the small town of Eloy, Arizona. Then her family moved to Phoenix.

She made the decision, based on her experience, to help other Hispanic girls to leverage the platform of the Girl Scouts for their intellectual, emotional and leadership development. So she set her eyes in the South Texas area, where 50 percent of the population is Hispanic.

Thanks to her efforts and dedication, Chavez was named in 2009 CEO of Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas. During her tenure, she worked at the community level to create opportunities for girls in the region, many of them Hispanics like her.

Chavez remained true to her mission of increasing the number of Hispanic Girl Scouts when she was appointed national CEO.

Today, more and more Hispanics, such as Anna Maria Chavez, seek to break the educational and cultural barriers through their membership in the Girl Scouts. In the last decade, the nonprofit organization has seen a 55 percent increase in the number of Hispanic girl members, representing approximately 12 percent of the total number of members

There are currently more than 5.7 million Hispanic girls aged 5-17 in the United States, and increasingly more Hispanics are graduating from college or are successfully entering the world of entrepreneurship.

Regarding the future of today's Hispanic girls, Chavez said "it's amazing to think what they can achieve; Hispanic girls can become big innovators or they can create new products in different industries..

"We have conducted studies in Girl Scouts showing that Hispanic and African American girls have what we call the 'resistance factor'. They are more prepared to face the challenges because they have had to overcome obstacles throughout their lives."

Source: Copyright Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)

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