Women share leadership stories at Girl Scout luncheon
Self confidence, empowerment, and contributions to the community were the themes of the first ever Girl Scout Legacy of Leadership Luncheon on Wednesday, June 5. More than 250 people attended the event, which was held at the Woodway Country Club in Darien, and celebrated the achievements of inspirational women in their careers. The luncheon, which was attended by Darien’s First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, included a silent auction, presentations of some Girl Scout Gold Award projects, and a lunch.
Proceeds go toward the registration fees for underprivileged girls to register as Girl Scouts.
According to Mary Barneby, CEO of Girl Scouts of Connecticut, the luncheon puts a “focus on women who are amazing role models and are leaving a legacy for leadership for girls and women.”
Suzanne Goldklang, a reporter for News 12 Connecticut, was the emcee. She showed her Girl Scout Cadet handbook, which cost $1.50 at J.C. Penney, and took a step back in time as she recalled her early years in Scouting.
“The year was 1974. There were no Daisies back then. You had to wait through first grade to be a Girl Scout,” she said.
Goldklang said she was “in a big hurry to be a Girl Scout because there were two styles of uniforms then. If you had sisters who could hand you down something like the McGuire sisters, you could have a cute little brown dress that made you look like you were a teeny, tiny, TWA stewardess.”
She added, however, that “If you were not so lucky, you had to go to "JCPenney’s and buy a tunic and a pair of gauchos because it was 1974. Alas, that is what I got.”
Despite her uniform, she said she had “a great two years as a Brownie and then I went on to fourth, fifth, and sixth grade.”
“Because of all the volunteers and leaders, girls in Connecticut have a future, a future of endless possibilities,” Goldklang said. “They can be anything.”
Courage, confidence, character
This year, Scarlett Lewis, founder and chief movement officer at the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, received the Courage, Confidence, and Character award. This award honors people who, despite challenges in their life, have achieved extraordinary success in their community. Lewis, who grew up in Darien, lost her son Jesse when he was 6 years old in the Sandy Hook tragedy.
“Scarlett is such a role model,” said Dan Anderson, a board member of Jesse Lewis Choose Love, who accepted the award on Lewis’ behalf.
“If you think about Sandy Hook and the events that happened there, she took that and turned it into love. She is going around the country now, making a huge difference in many people’s lives.”
Improving lives in Uganda
Catherine Herrick of Newtown, a 2019 Girl Scout Gold Award recipient, spoke about her Gold Award project, which was focused on helping improve the lives of people in Uganda.
As part of her project, she is working with the African Community Center for Social Sustainability in the Nagasaki district of Uganda, and Grace’s Promise Incorporated in Sandy Hook, “to help caregivers and parents learn income generating activities so they can earn money to send their children to school,” Herrick said.
“Education should be a basic human right but for most children in Uganda, they are denied that. She said the school dropout rate in Uganda is 78 percent,” and there is child labor, prostitution, and child marriages. Forty percent of girls are married off before the age of 18.
Herrick said the primary reason for these issues in Uganda is “because parents and caregivers cannot afford school fees. Eighty-one percent of parents and caregivers of children who had never attended school or had dropped out stated the cause was lack of money or financial hardship.”
She said the program has been “very successful.”
“The mothers are learning new skills to earn a living to help pay for their children’s school fees. They can lift themselves out of poverty.” Herrick added that as a Girl Scout, “I have gained a stronger sense of myself. Girl Scouts taught me to identify a challenge and work toward making a positive change. I plan to be a physician and continue to work on making a positive change with the life skills that I have learned from being a Girl Scout.”
Legacy of Leadership award
The two women who received the 2019 inaugural Legacy of Leadership Award were Raquel Oden, managing director, Northeast division, JPMorgan Chase; and Kathleen Silard, president and CEO of Stamford Health System.
She said she loves that “Girl Scouts of Connecticut has fearless leaders who are genuinely committed to women.”
Oden said JPMorgan she is very focused on financial literacy. “That is a huge passion for me,” she said.
“Financial literacy is not taught in schools. We know statistically as women, we lack confidence when it comes to finance — not ability but confidence,” Oden said. “What I love about what Girl Scouts is doing is it’s showing that our young girls are getting a financial literacy curriculum very early so they can be a power to do the things that are important to our society as a whole.”
JPMorgan Chase has focused on women and investing, according to Oden.
“When it comes to financial literacy, the empowerment of women, and leadership, there is no better way than ensuring that we support organizations like the Girl Scouts,” Oden said.
Silard said that every day she gets to witness how women “with courage, confidence and character make Stamford Health an even better place for members of our community to receive care.”
She spoke about her path to her current position. “I wanted to work and make a contribution in the community where I lived so that I could actually see the fruits of the labor of the work that we and my colleagues were doing,” she said.
When Silard became the president and CEO of Stamford Health, in October of 2018, she said, “This was a double honor because there are only three other females who were ever the president and CEOs of hospitals in the State of Connecticut.”
“For me, that was pretty meaningful to be a trailblazer in that way,” Silard added. “I’m deeply appreciative to the Girl Scouts for helping to encourage girls of all ages to make the world a better place.”