Brianna GunterStory by
About this sponsorship: In honor of the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic ascent of Mount Everest, Patch and Grape-Nuts are teaming up to highlight those who inspire people around them to climb their own mountains.
The nation may want to look to the Girl Scouts for its next generation of leaders. In Nassau County, Girl Scout Executive Director Donna Ceravolo is working hard to encourage girls to set goals and learn positive ways to deal socially and in the business world. Prior to becoming a professional Girl Scout, Ceravolo served as chief executive officer of the YWCA of Brooklyn, an organization committed to the empowerment of women and the elimination of racism.
Ceravolo took a moment to answer the following questions for this column:
1. What is the biggest challenge you've ever taken on? Or what goal are you trying to achieve right now?
Leading the Girl Scouts of Nassau County to be seen as a modern and relevant organization for girls in the 21st Century is an ongoing challenge. Enrolling girls, recruiting and supporting our volunteers, raising money and delivering programs to girls are all part of a day’s work for Girl Scouts of Nassau County. Changing the public perception of an organization that is both iconic and revered is our toughest challenge. Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. We are in the business of leadership: Leadership as demonstrated by millions of women who have come through Girl Scouting. Leadership for the women and girls who are members today, and for the impact that today’s women and girls will have on the future of our country and our world. Leadership for the next generation who are yet to come. Girl Scouting gives girls a supportive environment of friendship as they develop the tools, tactics and language they need to tackle big issues. Girl Scouting also does this for the adult volunteers who work with girls. Girls Scouting provides opportunities for FUN, discovery and connection in STEM, financial literacy and entrepreneurship, as well as through camping, the arts, civic responsibility, community service and action in our communities. Each day girls are using the skills that they have learned to take action to make the world a better place. People have perceptions of the Girl Scouts that are incomplete. The Girl Scout Cookie Program teaches girls how to set goals, make decisions, manage money, deal with people and practice business ethics. Camping helps girls to thrive in the outdoor world, while they have fun with their friends. The crafts that Girl Scouts often undertake are not primarily about the tokens made, but rather about teaching girls to master tasks and keep their hands busy while they are learning other lessons about friendship, teamwork and perseverance.
2. What inspired you to take on this challenge? How do you plan to achieve this goal?
Our GIRLS inspire us each day. Every girl wants fun, friendship and to feel good about herself. Families want their daughters to develop values and learn skills, and families need affordable activities. The words of the Girl Scout Promise and Law provide both inspiration and roadmap for a life lived well. Girl Scouts works to stay ahead of the curve with respect to the issues facing girls and to provide the programs that are needed for success today and tomorrow. Our job is to convince girls, families and community that Girl Scouts is relevant for the girls of today. For example, Girl Scouts of Nassau County took up the issue of social bullying eight years ago, long before it was in the news or an item of pop culture. We’ve developed and delivered programs and solutions for thousands of girls, parents and other adults professionals who work with girls. We’ve been fielding prize winning robotics teams for the past six years, and finding ways to make science, technology, engineering and math fun and applicable to girls. The Girl Scout Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards provide ways for girls to showcase their problem solving skills while tackling issues of importance in their community and the world. The best way to change perception is for people to see our work in ways that demonstrate its value and application. Media and marketing are effective, but expensive. Our best testimonials are the girls that excel in school and in life who have come through the Girl Scout program.
3. Did you succeed? And/or what will you do when you succeed?
Girl Scouting succeeds every day in ways large and small, in the lives of individual girls, in the ways that girls inspire our adult volunteers and on a broader scale through the success of the Girl Scout organization. We have just completed celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouting in the USA. We’re hard at work to provide the foundation, skills and success stories to carry us into our next century of service to our girls, the community and the world. The next century of Girl Scouting will continue to rely on the tenets of the Girl Scout Promise and law, and we will still be showcasing skills through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, sharing songs around the campfire, busying our hands with crafts and using our hearts and minds to make the world a better place.