“We’re here because we’re a part of our legacy,” said GSUSA CEO, Anna Maria Chávez on Saturday, April 2nd at the Inspire a Girl Expo and Honors Ceremony. Welcoming an audience of more than 1,000 of our Girl Scouts, volunteers and family members, along with Anna Maria Chávez celebrated the achievements of 44 Gold Award recipients at the Overland Park Convention Center. It was a day buzzing with Girl Scout excitement, happy faces and lots of proud families.
The day began with a special breakfast for the Gold Award recipients, Anna Maria and GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler. During that time, the girls got a chance to ask the CEOs questions, spark conversation and analyze the status of girls today. For all involved it was an incredible moment to have so many accomplished, female leaders in a room discussing the status of girls and the future they all strive for.
After the breakfast and a few photos, the Gold Award recipients set-up their displays and networked with the other girls about their projects while waiting to welcome guests to the Expo a bit later. Meanwhile, sponsors were welcomed at a special reception that gave them some one-on-one time with the CEOs and GSUSA’s Lynn Godfrey, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. The Fund Development team hosted the event and celebrated the accomplishments of girls alongside the sponsors who make Girl Scouts possible. After a few photo ops and chatting with alumna and supporters like Nancy Banta and Fae Dinkle (you may remember these Highest Award alumna from earlier blogs!), it was time for the expo to kick off and welcome hundreds of Girl Scouts and families!
The Expo was a smashing hit with amazing displays, education and yummy treats. Girl Scouts of all ages were able to learn about the Gold Award projects, explore travel options and even get their own Girl Scout passport made! Parents were able to get more information on the Highest Awards and see what great programs are available through Girl Scouts.
After lots of learning, it was time for the big event – the Honors Ceremony. As guests were seated a video showing the hard work of these Girl Scouts played and the recipients took their places on stage. The program opened with moving stories from Gold Award Alumna like Lindsay McNary and Elizabeth Gilson who discussed the power of earning the Gold Award and how it has impacted their lives. Then, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Beth Winters Scholarship and learned about a few of the success stories of past recipients.
Three Beth Winters Scholarships were awarded to Amanda Johnson (see her in the video with Mayor Sly), Blayre Messner and Abby Mitchell for their work in the community this past year. It was a moving moment to hear about the great work these three special women did for the community.
We then honored our 2016 Gold Award recipients with family members, troop leaders, advisors and mentors who joined us on stage for the official Gold Award pinning. After applause, smiles and a few tears, the girls took their seat among their peers and listened to a moving speech from our keynote speaker, Anna Maria Chavez.
During the keynote, Anna Maria Chávez highlighted a very key point about the status of Girl Scouts in America today – we need to bring our swagger back. While Girl Scouts has been an American staple for more than 100 years, she relayed stories from alumna asking her to help bring back the pride that girls once felt being a Girl Scout. Highlighting the incredible accomplishments of girls right there in the room, she moved the audience with the need to make girls a priority in the world and for girls to understand it’s cool to be a Girl Scout.
GSKSMO CEO Joy Wheeler then took the stage and addressed the amazing work that our council was doing and the severe gap in philanthropy for organizations that support boys compared to those that support girls. It was an inspiring message about what we can do, right here in our council, to make the world a better place for girls.
The ceremony came to a close and it was time for selfies and photos with the honored guests, Joy Wheeler and Gold Award advisors that helped the girls achieve their dreams. After the audiences had cleared, troops from the Outreach Program got a special talk with Anna Maria and she even participated in a few dances with them! One girl even got Anna Maria’s Girl Scout scarf as part of their Q&A time.
One of the most moving moments was right at the end, as Outreach Girl Scouts ran to the stage and sat in the seats that the 2016 Gold Award recipients had been seated in just a few minutes before. They asked one of their leaders to act as pinner and announcer, and began role-playing their own Gold Award ceremony, imagining their futures and the projects they would be honored for. It was an incredible, full circle moment for everyone.
Thank you to the sponsors, Girl Scouts, volunteers and family members for making this day absolutely INSPIRING! We thank you for your support and can’t wait to see you at Inspire a Girl 2017!