NEW YORK - Anna Maria Chavez, a lawyer, has been named CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, making her the first Hispanic head of the organization.
Chávez, who grew up in a small town in southern Arizona and rose to become deputy chief of staff to that state’s then-Gov. Janet Napolitano, is set to officially assume her new role at the Girl Scouts National Council Session/52nd Convention in November.
Chávez’s appointment as the 19th chief executive of Girl Scouts, among the largest and most widely recognized nonprofits in the country, comes as the organization readies to launch a national celebration as part of its 100th anniversary designed to honor its legacy and create urgency around girls’ issues. She will replace Kathy Cloninger, who is retiring after leading the organization for eight years.
“Girl Scouts is the premier leadership organization for girls with a trailblazing legacy that stretches nearly 100 years,” said Chávez, who currently serves as chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas. “The country has never needed Girl Scouts more than it does today. What girls are accomplishing in Girl Scouting is inspiring. I have seen it firsthand in Texas, and I intend to tell that story far and wide. I’m eager to work with our partners across the country as the organization embarks on a new century of empowering girls to take the lead in their own lives and make a difference in their communities and across the world.”
Connie Lindsey, National President of Girl Scouts of the USA, said: “Anna Maria is the right person at the right time for our organization. She has a tremendous track record, and her visionary leadership is going to be invaluable as we work to fulfill our mission to be the premier leadership experience for girls in ways that are relevant, engaging and meaningful.”
Chávez will take over as chief executive after a dramatic period of change for the organization. Kathy Cloninger has led Girl Scouts through a historic transformation designed to ensure that the organization delivers the best leadership experience for a new generation of girls whose lives—and the opportunities they face—are ever changing. The wide-ranging effort has included consolidating councils from 312 to 112, as well as developing a nationally consistent program portfolio for girls that includes a series of leadership journeys, or coordinated series of activities grouped around a theme, and a revamped system of badges and awards that align with the leadership program.
“What a testament to the kind of leadership we have within the Girl Scout Movement that we were able to select one of our own to lead our organization into its second century,” said Cloninger, who acceded to the top post after nearly three decades of executive roles in Girl Scouting, including as chief executive officer of the Girl Scout Council of Cumberland Valley in Tennessee. “Anna Maria exemplifies the leadership qualities that we strive to teach all of our girls and she is going to be an inspiration to all girls and a strong advocate on their behalf.”