• GS Southern Arizona

Update on Anti-Racism Work from Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona

Dear Girl Scout Members and Families, When I shared my mid-summer update, your Girl Scout staff and Board were rolling up our sleeves and working on organizational improvements in the very same way that we teach our girls to take action. As we live by in Girl Scouting— Discover, Connect, and Take Action— I’m writing to you today with an update on the ways in which our team is implementing these Girl Scout touchstones. When we say these words, we are referencing the greater expression of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. In our movement, we discover ourselves and our values. We connect with others locally and globally. And, together, we take action to make the world a better place. During the past few months, we have been discovering more about ourselves and our values. Leadership and staff have been individually, and collectively as a team, learning from expert mentors about diversity, equity, inclusion, and racial justice (DEIA-RJ). We also have been listening and learning about the stories of former staff members who have shared their experiences working here and what our history can teach us. Like so many across the country, we have been learning about systems of oppression that have led to this current movement in America. Connecting with others has been a gift to the learning. I have had many conversations with volunteers, girls and families, as well as peers in sister councils and other organizations, as I moved into my new role as CEO. While it is a challenging time in our country, let me be clear that we will do our part in making this world a better place. Please know that our commitment to DEIA-RJ work means that we will be thoughtful and intentional so that we can ensure sustainable improvements that will make our organization better in the future. Although we are eager to move quickly, this work is a marathon and not a sprint. Our work is ongoing and will continue to be a priority of this organization because it is the right thing to do. I share with you some of the action steps we have completed to date, and those actions we’ve just begun, to ensure Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona is a welcoming and inclusive organization of true belonging.

  • We held our first Girls Voices Rising forum, addressing girls’ concerns on racism and how to bring positive change forward both inside and outside Girl Scouts. The forum was insightful and girls shared their ideas for future programs. We will continue to hold these listening forums to center girls’ voices and guide our work in the future.

  • In an effort to bring forward more voices about council priorities, we are forming both a Girl Advisory committee (girl experience) and a CEO Advisory committee (tactical thought partners).

  • Representatives from the Board met with a group of former staff who, out of a love for the Girl Scouts movement, shared their experiences to foster a better working environment. We listened to their voices and will carry them with us as we move forward.

  • We have engaged the services of two DEIA-RJ consulting firms to guide us in our work. Visceral Change is leading our team in a system-wide assessment. They’ve also begun staff training in DEIA-RJ and will be offering Board and Volunteer training soon. The second firm, Ragland and Wilhite, is working with our senior leadership team to provide DEIA-RJ coaching in small groups and during 1:1 sessions.

  • With the guidance of these experts, we are forming a DEIA-RJ Committee comprised of girls, members, staff, and board to guide future work.

  • This fall, we will roll out customized training focused on DEIA-RJ and Accessibility for staff and volunteers created by experts in the field specifically for the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona.

  • Additionally, our Board Governance committee put together a proposed Board candidate slate of incredible women leaders. We believe and understand how important diverse Board representation matters to the success of our DEIA-RJ work. The critical skillsets that these women bring to the Board, if elected, will shift our Board to 37% BIWOC representation in the new Board year. I encourage you to register and attend our Annual Meeting on 9/26 to learn more about these women who stand ready to join our Board and lead the work.

As we continue this work and put our best efforts forward, we recognize that everyone is a learner and everyone is a leader in this movement. Please let me know if you are interested in serving on a committee, for we welcome your sisterhood and your support. If you have any questions, I am always available to you at (520) 319-3172 and khernandez@girlscoutssoaz.org. Together we will do better— and be better. Girl Scout Strong,

Kristen Garcia-Hernandez Chief Executive Officer

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