Gold Award Alumna Spotlight: Dena Neuenschwander
All businesses face challenges that sometimes prevent them from moving toward success…but business consultants help change those challenges into successes. Gold Award Alumna, Lifetime Member and Beth Winters Scholarship Recipient, Dena Neuenschwander is a University of Kansas and Harvard Business School graduate whose work with the Boston Consulting Group is changing the business world for the better. Empowered to help organizations be their best, Dena uses the courage, confidence and especially character she learned in Girl Scouts to excel in the business world.
Dena joined Girl Scouts as a Brownie and was fortunate to have a mother, CeeAnn, who is a GS Alumna with deep connections to the organization as her troop leader. She remembers being inspired by her mother who was a national volunteer for Girl Scouts and did work with our council. Her sister is also a Gold Award Alumna and all three (mother, sister and Dena) are Lifetime Members. Her troop experience was an important part of growing up and there was pride in being a Girl Scouts. In fact, the troop did money earning projects to make sure every girl became a Lifetime Member when they graduated.
In addition to the personal connections, Dena found leadership and travel to be exceptional opportunities that Girl Scouts offered. “There were so many opportunities to grow as a leader. I remember seeing the girls who were older than me leading activities, and I was so inspired by that to lead when I got to that next level,” Dena said. Being a leader became a core skill that Dena used to propel her toward success with the Highest Awards.
The inspiration to lead encouraged her to go for Gold, which she achieved by creating a dental hygiene program for kids. She got toothbrushes and tooth paste donated and designed a portable curriculum to teach kids about proper dental hygiene. “Brushing your teeth correctly, with the right tools, is so simple and it actually contributes to overall health. If you can educate children about dental health, you can create impact on their overall health for the rest of their lives,” Dena said. A special part of this project involved her sister’s troop that was working on their Silver Award at the time. They created small, brightly patterned bags for the kids to take their dental hygiene products home in for Dena’s Gold Award project!
This exceptional project earned Dena the Beth Winters Scholarship, providing her with financial relief and encouragement. “Joyce and Chip [Winters] are so inspirational to me, and the way they give back to the community in honor of Beth is incredible. Having people who believe in you and who are willing to help fund your journey gives you the opportunity to take adventures that otherwise wouldn’t be possible,” Dena said. For Dena, the scholarship went far beyond the financial aspect – it was knowing that someone believed in her.
Some of these adventures included travel, which she still does a great deal of today. It was through Girl Scouts that she first took big adventures outside the USA in high school. “[In Girl Scouts] we took a trip to Italy, France and Switzerland. That whole process from money earning, planning the trip and having to work a group was an incredible experience,” Dena said. Because of those first experiences, Dena is able to travel alone for work even today with complete confidence! “I travel a lot for work and am going to meet new people, by myself, a lot of the time. I think that confidence stems from that initial experience in Girl Scouts,” Dena said.
Today, Dena is a Project Leader at the Boston Consulting Group, living in New York City! She works with large companies to help them figure out complex, strategic plans. Talk about a woman taking the lead in business! She has also continued a life of service through college, her Master’s program and everyday life. While living in Boston and attending Harvard Business School she worked with the “Impact Initiative” which provided leadership programs for middle schoolers in Boston. She also pitches in when work has community service days and adopt-a-family holiday events. “To me, service is just second nature. When an opportunity comes up, I always take advantage of that. Especially when I’ve been moving around a lot, you see that everywhere you go, there are opportunities to serve,” Dena said.
Being a Girl Scout had a lasting impact on Dena and she reflects affectionately on her experience. “Girl Scouts, especially as an older girl, changed from trying new things and learning to be a leader to actually having the courage, confidence and character to take on challenges and get things done. The Gold Award is an ultimate example of that. There was so much I didn’t know when I started the Gold Award, but I had the confidence to take on those challenges and achieve a goal,” Dena said.
What an inspiration to girls looking to take on the business world! It’s so exciting to hear how skills learned in Girl Scouts make a real difference in the lives of alumnae. If you know Dena and want to share a memory or know of another awesome Gold Award Alumna whose story we should share, comment below!