By Alison Bailin Batz
Chew on this – the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world is none other than the Girl Scout Cookie Program. Through March 3, more than 11,000 girls in central and northern Arizona will be walking around neighborhoods and boothing in front of local stores learning entrepreneurial skills while selling delicious cookies.
Not only that, the Girl Scout programs themselves play a huge role in transforming girls into G.I.R.L.s – Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders – as they learn essential life skills including decision making, money management, people skills, business ethics and goal setting that will stay with them forever.
In honor of cookie season, we sat down with some of the Valley’s top leaders to learn how cookies were, in part, to thank for their sweet success.
“I grew up in a large family, the sole female child with five brothers. Girl Scouts provided me with both female companionship and role models. In my Girl Scout troop, I had the opportunity to be inquisitive, resourceful and to accomplish goals through activities, including hiking, camping and selling cookies. When my own three daughters were of age, I became a Girl Scout leader for their troops. I wanted to pass the torch to the next generation. Each scout in my troops learned creativity, enterprise and leadership, especially during cookie sales. We shared our “sweet success” and bonded on trips and excursions paid for with the “sweet profits” we earned. As a CPA and CFO, I continue to look at these experiences as the building blocks in my ability to manage projects, finances and people.”
Catherine Laganosky, chief financial officer of Pioneer Title Agency and Yavapai Title Agency
“Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my time as a Daisy and Brownie. There were so many learning opportunities that came along with participating in the programs and especially the cookie program. Selling cookies taught me so much, most importantly that failure is not an option. Not everyone was going to be convinced to buy cookies just because I asked them to; I had to provide a good reason for them to make that investment. I needed to be persistent but patient. I use these skills each and every day in my role as an economic development director, working with business owners and executives considering locating to Maricopa.”
Denyse Airheart, economic development director for the city of Maricopa
“What I remember most about my time as a Girl Scout was earning my badges. It was so exciting to learn to do something new. The pride I felt completing projects and earning a badge that reflected that accomplishment was fulfilling to me. I believe it contributed to my confidence, my desire to follow through on what I started, being curious and learning to work both independently and as a team to achieve a goal. Girl Scouts exposed me to activities I may never have undertaken otherwise, like service to elders, cookie sales… and sewing (which I never mastered but enjoyed the journey).”
Beth Amoroso, director of human resources at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino
“I was both a Brownie and Girl Scout for many years. My association with the troops taught me to be open to new things – earning my badges as well as creating lifelong relationships with my fellow Scouts. It also taught me to stand up for what was right and what was wrong. I still have my sash with 36 badges and I am turning 60 this year so I can personally say, every young girl should take advantage of what the organization has to offer.”
Deb Day Stroinski, vice president of Scott’s Coach Works
“Girl Scouts was my first experience with the importance of working as a team, raising funds(selling cookies) to pay for our activities and trips. In addition, earning those badges encouraged all of us to constantly try new things and learn new skills. I remember looking through my handbook often, always eager to pick out my next challenge. These skills – working together with a team, financial responsibility, curiosity, adapting, trying new things – have been critical in my life, both personally and professionally.”
Kim Cullum, co-founder of Cullum Homes