Very few organizations are making such a positive impact on the future of young women in California like the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. Still California’s largest female-focused nonprofit, the Girl Scouts serve more than 45,000 girls with over 20,000 volunteers. Much more than cookie-sellers, the Girls Scouts of Greater Los Angeles (GSGLA) and their supporters are all about empowering the next generation of female leaders. Recently, a few female leaders came together to honor their efforts at an annual luncheon in downtown Los Angeles.
“Girl Scouts is still the premiere leadership development organization for girls. Our girls are building robots, climbing mountains, leading changes in legislation, protecting the marginalized, and so much more,” expressed Kenya M. Yarbrough, director, Marketing & Advocacy of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. “Spanning areas of entrepreneurship, STEM, life skills, and the outdoors, our programs give girls hands-on experiences and activities that are helping them become the best of themselves. And in that, they are leading the charge to make the world better.”
Annually, the Scouts gather to honor those doing great things in the L.A. area by hosting a luncheon entitled “ToGetHerThere.” Held Thursday, Oct 30 at the JW Marriott in LA Live; over 80 high school emerging leader Girl Scouts, influential women in the community, and business leaders convened to announce the approval of a new Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Inglewood Leadership Center and to encourage their members to continue to reach, dream and lead.
The words ‘leadership’ and ‘empowerment’ resonated throughout the day as the luncheon participants worked hard are instilling these qualities in the girls. “While empowerment is authority or self-actualization, at Girl Scouts we are very particular in noting that we don’t empower girls – we encourage and inspire girls to empower themselves…” says Kenya Yarbrough, director, Marketing & Advocacy at the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. “…to us that means helping to provide the tools, developing the skills, and encouraging the confidence in girls to use their voice and take action in interests and causes that are important to them. When we talk about empowerment, we talk about working to make sure that every girl has the confidence and courage to reach their greatest potential.”
In addition to the luncheon, girls were included in a morning mentoring session and keynote conversations with leaders like honoree Joanna Dean, general manager for Toyota Financial Services, Western Region and GSGLA CEO Lisa Luttgens. The luncheon was moderated by CBS2 Los Angeles co-anchor Pat Harvey. One of the most powerful points of the day included the honoring of Michelle Apolonio, Service Unit manager/recruiter/T\troop leader, LaBrea Heights Service Unit of Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. “The luncheon was amazing. To see girls and people / companies in the best in their field, standing with girls, encouraging and advising them to aim high, in itself was an honor,” says Michelle. “To have 82 girls stand behind me while telling my story and championing on their behalf, and the tens of thousands of girl who are a part of Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, confirmed that volunteering my time and talents is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
At the luncheon, GSGLA CEO Lise Luttgens also enthusiastically shared new details related to empowering girls in L.A.’s underserved
Communities through the development of a new Girl Scout Leadership Center in Inglewood and the success of the #ToGetHerThere campaign. The #ToGetHerThere campaign is the largest and boldest advocacy fundraising campaign dedicated to girls’ leadership. In 2012, the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) announced #ToGetHerThere, the multi-year effort that creates balanced leadership–the equal representation of women in leadership positions in all sectors and levels of society–within one generation. The ToGetHerThere moves the needle on breaking down the barriers that are keeping girls from reaching their potential as leaders. The campaign also motivates adult female leaders of society–individuals, corporations, governments, and likeminded organizations–to do their part to support girls.
“As a mother, family member, friend or community leader, we recognize and have a desire to put our girls in a position to reach heights we were unable to reach,” says Michelle. “When you volunteer your time and talents, you afford many girls the opportunity to reach, dream and aspire goals that may have been out of their reach without our help.”
“The way to empower a woman, is to empower a girl.” – Anonymous