A Spotlight On Local Leaders Who Are Girl Scout Alumnae

Following a year where over half of the women elected to Congress are Girl Scout alumnae, it seems like an opportune time to reflect on our own Girl Scout alumnae currently involved in Nevada’s political system. Whether they’re involved in local or state government, these women are making a difference and showcasing the power of girls.

Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske is a fixture within the Nevadan government, boasting thirty-three years of public service. In 1996, she was elected to serve in the Nevada Assembly representing Clark County District 5 and in 2004, she won a state Senate seat for Clark County District 8. She assumed the role of Nevada Secretary of State in 2014 and has remained there ever since. Although born in Minnesota, Cegavske has made a lasting impression on the Las Vegas community through her tireless work ethic and her many service projects. Cegavske has also served as a member of the Clark High School Area Neighborhood Improvement Program, as secretary and treasurer to Women in Government, a co-chair to the Least Restrictive Environment Committee, and as a Child Advocate to the Nevada State Legislature.

Cegavske was a Girl Scout for a short time in her youth, and became a board member to the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada later in life. As a Brownie, Cegavske says that her troop would often take time to learn about each other’s heritages through baking, an opportunity that she would share with my own troop as we learned to bake lefsa—a Norwegian bread—with her. Girl Scouts also gave her valuable social skills, and through her position as a board member, she gained insights to the ambitions and infrastructure of Girl Scouts. Cegavske says that Girl Scouts offers a special opportunity to learn, and by following Cegavske’s great example, all girls can learn what it means to be a responsible and committed leader.

Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick’s political career first began back in 2004 when she was chosen to represent District 1 in the Nevada State Assembly. Since then, she’s served numerous sessions in the Nevada State Legislature and as the Speaker of the Nevada Assembly, as well as the chair to both the Government Affairs Committee and the Committee on Taxation, among other positions. However, Kirkpatrick’s impact on our community isn’t limited to just the results of her political career. She has also acted as a volunteer coordinator for Community Partners Clean Up Our Neighborhood, a volunteer for Kids Voting USA Program, a member of the North Las Vegas Design Committee for Library Development, as well as numerous other positions that have made our community better. Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick is a prime example of what it means to be a force for good, and her involvement with Girl Scouts is truly special.

As an at-risk kid, Girl Scouts gave Kirkpatrick the opportunity to have a sense of family. Later in life, she would become a Troop Leader for a collection of girls she called “diverse and committed to service” and a group she remains in contact with to this day. Kirkpatrick has fond memories of camping at Camp Foxtail and traveling down the coast with her troop. Kirkpatrick says that Girl Scouts instills leadership and teaches girls to take risks—a fact visible in her own life.

Both Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick reveal deep ties to their communities, and a deep passion for improving them. Through constant public service and dedication to their jobs, they not only represent what good leadership is, but act as inspirations for many girls. These two public servants make Girl Scouts proud.

Katie Grierson was born in Las Vegas, NV, and attends Bishop Gorman High School. She has been a Girl Scout for nine years, and is currently an Ambassador in Troop 77. Presently, she is working on her Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouting.

Leadership from a Cookie Box

When I started selling cookies as a Girl Scout, I truly thought it was just a simple fundraiser activity to benefit our troop. Goodness, was I wrong.

I entered Girl Scouts as an introvert. My troop leader said I had to approach people with a genuine smile, an order form in hand, and ask them to buy cookies. This completely terrified me. I was so scared of approaching others that I cried and begged my parents to forbid me to sell cookies. My parents had originally put me in Girl Scouts because I was an English Language Learner (ELL) student who refused to talk after being harshly criticized by adults and bullied by my peers at school because of my foreign accent. My social skills, as well as my confidence, were extremely low. Thinking that this would be a good opportunity for me to learn, my parents “forced” me to ask the troop leader if I could be part of a selling booth. 

During my first booth experience, I was so nervous and scared that I was shaking. Aware of my fear of talking, my troop leader told me that her goal for me was to ask one person if they wanted to buy cookies and if they criticized me she would have a serious talk with them. While working the cookie booth, I nervously stood in one spot, holding a box of Thin Mints in one hand and Caramel Delites/Samoas in the other. With my troop leader encouraging me, with a quiet and heavy accent, I finally asked one person who was entering the store, and to my surprise, she said that she would buy cookies. After that first sale, my troop leader set higher goals as to how many people I should approach. It seems like a lifetime ago, but soon I had the courage and confidence to approach all who entered or exited the store.

Girl Scout cookies mean different things to different people. For the people buying them, they are a nice dessert or snack for later. For the G.I.R.L., they are memories that last a lifetime, as well as a way to learn new skills. To a troop leader or parent it could be stress or standing in cold weather in front of a store praying that nothing goes wrong. For me, Girl Scout Cookies are what helped me overcome my fear of speaking and gave me my voice back. As a high school junior, involved in many extra-curricular activities, I am thankful for the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada.

Chloe Hwang attends Ed W. Clark High School in the Teacher Education Academy (T.E.A.C.H.). Chloe is a member of Troop 39 and is an Ambassador-level Girl Scout currently in her eleventh year of Girl Scouting. In addition to her troop activities, Chloe was selected as a member of the 2018-2019 G.I.R.L. Media Team. Chloe earned her Girl Scout Bronze Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouting for girls in 4th and 5th grades. She is currently working toward her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest and most prestigious honor in Girl Scouts.

World Thinking Day: How Are You A Leader?

On February 22nd, Girl Scouts around the world will celebrate World Thinking Day—a time when girls come together and help change the world. This year’s theme is leadership and Girl Scouts are encouraged to do activities that promote girls’ leadership qualities and allow girls to reflect on who they are and who they want to be. Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors will explore different leadership positions and learn about Girl Scout Promises and Laws from other countries, while the older girls (Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors) will speak out on issues they care about and connect with their sisterhood.

However, even if you’re not planning on joining in on the World Thinking Day activities, the celebration is a great time for self-reflection. Think about how you’ve been a leader in your own life. How have you grown in the following year? And how has Girl Scouts aided you in your growth?

Personally, Girl Scouts has given me the confidence to explore other aspects of myself and get involved in things I might not have before. It has assisted me in understanding that leadership isn’t always about having control and leading a group—leadership can be leading yourself too. I’ve become a better leader in my own life, taking charge of my dreams and seeking out opportunities to improve myself. Writing this blog post is one great example! Another is creating an American Sign Language Club at my school. I’ve taken risks and have been supported by my Girl Scout family the whole way through.

I’ve also become a leader that listens—I rely on my troop for input and advice, learning from everything they say. They’ve taught me that being a good leader means knowing how to follow and support too, and, thanks to their advice, our troop has been involved in some great service projects. We’ve participated in Honor Flight events and have taken the time to sit down and listen to talks about mental health with the National Alliance on Mental Health.

Like many girls, Girl Scouts has allowed me to foster my sense of self around others like me, and it’s thanks to the support and wisdom offered by my troop that I’ve become the leader I am today!

Katie Grierson was born in Las Vegas, NV, and attends Bishop Gorman High School. She has been a Girl Scout for nine years, and is currently an Ambassador in Troop 77. Presently, she is working on her Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouting.