Girl Scout cookies changed my life — and theirs

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Girls Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana CEO Nancy Wright and Little Brownie Bakers Senior Director Jennifer Roth are joined by three Girl Scouts and Wendy Davidson.

I’ll never forget the sense of accomplishment I felt after selling my first box of Girl Scout cookies. For weeks, our troop had carefully created our selling story, planned our neighborhood sales routes and managed the money earned from our sales.

We were essentially learning how to run a small business. Girl Scouts and the cookie selling experience fueled my passion for entrepreneurialism, teamwork and, ultimately, leadership. It also served as the foundation for my dedication to creating experiences and opportunities for young girls to help them shape their futures. 

I’m proud to be a part of the Kellogg’s team and our long-standing partnership with Girl Scouts. Since 1973, Little Brownie Bakers, a division of Kellogg’s, has been baking many favorite varieties of Girl Scout Cookies like Samoas®, Thin Mints®, Tagalongs® and Do-si-dos®. But Girl Scouts is about so much more than cookies and I am proud to be more than a baker.

Our partnership efforts beyond the cookie include support to Girl Scouts councils to help teach girls a wide range of life skills. “Healthy Girls, Bright Futures” is one of those initiatives. The program launched in January with the dedication of Kellogg’s volunteers and in collaboration with the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.  “Healthy Girls, Bright Futures” provided more than 2,000 Girl Scouts from more than 26, Title 1 schools dedicated, immersive and highly specialized programming in four curricular areas including: STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), Life Skills, Financial Literacy/Entrepreneurship and Outdoor Education.

I had the opportunity to meet a group of girls from this program and speak with them about my career, being a Girl Scout and my role at Kellogg. I was incredibly moved by the passion and enthusiasm of the girls when I explained that my career began as a Girl Scout and that they were learning the skills to begin their own development.

I added that I hoped one day, one of them might have my job. I’ll never forget the words of a mother at the end of the day when she thanked me for giving her daughter a chance to “see what she can be.”   

Young innovators

Kellogg’s Career Exploration Day in June was a culmination of everything the Girl Scouts learned in the “Healthy Girls, Bright Futures” program. Hundreds of girls were presented with the challenge of developing a new food innovation. Girls had the opportunity to engage with Kellogg food scientists, product developers and marketing experts at six stations, including product development, purchasing, marketing, sales, production and prototyping. In the final session, the girls were shown how packaging is created and they used craft supplies to develop a version of their own design.

The day was filled with a positive buzz of energy. Each girl got a glimpse of what it might be like to work in the food industry. 

I believe all business leaders — but especially women executives — must have an unwavering commitment to create experiences for all young girls, regardless of their background, to have exposure to the vast career opportunities to explore. We should make it a priority to ask ourselves how — like the Girl Scouts mission — we can build girls of courage, confidence and character. And we should look for opportunities to work together to make it happen.

A mentor early in my career advised me, “By your position, you have earned a seat at the table. Make sure you use it.”

Women need more seats at the table. We must make it a priority as executive leaders to build a strong foundation early in the lives of young girls to increase the likelihood that women will have greater opportunities to fill those seats at the table in years to come.

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Wendy Davidson is president, U.S. specialty channels for Kellogg Company.

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