GS Alum Leadership in Action

Spotlight on Girl Scout Alum Angela Bennett

Leadership in action – that’s what living a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)TM life is all about. Meet Girl Scout Alum, former GSKSMO board member and member of Daisy’s Circle and the Juliette Gordon Low Society, Angela Bennett! This Girl Scout has been a leader in the KC community for years, serving on boards around the city, becoming the first black attorney at her law firm and as a Regional Director of the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. Now retired, Angela is dedicated to improving her community through volunteerism!

Angela Bennett with Gold Award Girl Scout Alum Catherine Pestinger and former GSKSMO Board President Libby Allman at the Juliette Gordon Low Society Luncheon in 2014.

Angela Bennett was raised in Kansas City, MO and started Girl Scouts in second grade. She remembers her first overnight campout was at Camp Timberlake and from her 2nd year of Girl Scouts on, she attended Camp Oakledge, well into her high school years. At camp, Angela learned critical networking and relationship building skills that would help her in future careers.

“When I was at camp, I had the opportunity to meet new people. I met girls from other communities that I wasn’t always exposed to and that was a good experience,” Angela said. Attending camp in the mid-1960s meant Angela was sometimes faced with racial prejudice, but at camp, she found those stereotypes and prejudices changed by the end of resident camp more often than not. That’s the power of getting girls together in a common activity away from the city and societal pressures – they can learn about one another in a safe space.

Beyond camping, Angela learned business skills through the Cookie Program. Her leader, Connie, made a large impact on her life and helped motivate her to succeed in the Cookie Program. “Our living room would be filled with cookie boxes before we could deliver them,” Angela said. These skills translated into adulthood as Angela attended UMKC for undergrad and Law School!

After graduating law school, Angela Bennett worked in a variety of occupations, blazing trails along the way. She served in the County Council office, worked for the Missouri Attorney General in the Consumer Protection division, in Army Corp of Engineers and Lathrop Gage. “I went to law school because I wanted to help people. My parents and Girl Scouts instilled in me a strong sense of giving back, so that’s always been important in my career,” Angela said.

With that motivation to give back, Angela accepted a position as the Regional Director of the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights and served in that role for 17 years before retiring in 2014. In this role she was able to make a major impact on the lives of children in the education system. She also served on the Board of Curators for University of Missouri system. When you talk about a Girl Scout giving back through life, Angela Bennett is a prime example of leadership in volunteerism!

Her devotion to Girl Scouts remained strong well into adulthood. She served on the GSKSMO Board of Directors in the early 1990s learned a lot about the organization. “Being on the Board was a good experience because I got to learn about the needs of the organization,” Angela said. She was also actively involved in the 75th Girl Scout anniversary celebration, working to find local Girl Scout alums to attend and bringing out memorabilia like her “lemy stick” and Girl Scout Brownie Book!

She has continued to invest in Girl Scouts because of the positive experiences she had as a girl and because she knows that it helps build girls for a better future. “Giving to Girl Scouts is one of the best ways to support girls as they grow to become contributing members of society,” Angela said.

Thank you to Angela Bennett for not only investing in girls, but for being a strong example of the type of woman Girl Scouts helps empower! Learn more about the Juliette Gordon Low Society and Daisy’s Circle to give back like Angela.

Oh What a Match for G.I.R.L.s

The Van Blaricum Family’s #GivingTuesday Gift

Investing in a bright future for their daughters and Girl Scouts all over the GSKSMO region! Meet the Van Blaricum family – Mark, Jackie, Julia (5th grade Girl Scout Junior) and Sylvie (3rd grade Girl Scout Brownie). This generous Girl Scout family not only made a $5,000 gift for #GivingTuesday, they support the Girl Scout program through volunteerism and as a Community Partner! Thanks to their support, along with Sylvia Wagner & E.R. Pullman’s $5,000 matching gift and gifts from donors all over the country, a total of $21,341 was raised for girls on #GivingTuesday! That made it our biggest #GivingTuesday yet and will provide hundreds of girls with the support they need!

The Van Blaricum family is a great example of a Girl Scout family giving of time, talent and treasure! Not only do the girls share their skills with their community, but Mark & Jackie support the mission as well as active parents in their daughters’ Girl Scouting experiences. Mark is on his 3rd year as a Cookie Dad for the Troop 414 (Julia’s troop) and their food truck, Pita For Good, is a community partner.  “Being a Cookie Dad is a great way to me to be involved,” Mark said.

For the Van Blaricums’, it’s important to have their daughters involved in Girl Scouting today because they feel the world is opening for girls, and the program prepares them for anything. “The world is being set-up for girls, our future women, to thrive. I would love nothing more. The parents we know see it as something more meaningful than just an activity and we all want to support that,” Mark said.

One of the things the Van Blaricum family values most in Girl Scouting is the consistency and sense of community between the families. Both daughters have had the same girls and leaders stay with the troop for multiple years, letting them build meaningful friendships. It’s also a place where Mark sees amazing parent involvement. “There are always parents willing to help with things like cookie booths and there’s always someone willing to step in and help,” said Mark. He notices that not all organizations have that connection and that’s one thing that makes Girl Scouting extra special for them.

The best part about Girl Scouting for the Van Blaricums’ is the variety in experiences their daughters get to have. From selling cookies (and getting to go to Girl Scout Day at the K) to adventures with their troops and badge earning, it’s an activity where the girls never get bored. “You never know when your kids will just be done with an activity, but I’ve never gotten that sense about Girl Scouts. I don’t think they’ll ever be ‘done.’ Every time they come home from camp or a function with their troop, they’re just pumped and talk about the great experiences they had. As a parent, that does it for me,” Mark said.

This amazing Girl Scout family gives more than time and talents to Girl Scouts, they also made a financial investment in the future for their daughters. For #GivingTuesday (a global giving movement), the Van Blaricum’s provided one of two generous matching gifts that had a major impact on giving. Joining Sylvia Wagner & E.R. Pullman, the Van Blaricum’s offered a $5,000 matching gift, which helped Girl Scouts blow past a $20,000 goal – absolutely incredible!

“In Girl Scouts, parents invest with more than just financial gifts, they give of their time too. It all is an investment in the program and we’re thrilled to see the response of parents willing to help with our troops. So many parents find ways to invest and we’re thrilled to invest for Giving Tuesday,” Mark said.

We send a huge thank you to the Van Blaricum family for their volunteerism, for sharing their skills through the Community Partner program, for their financial gifts and for their dedication as an active family. With Girl Scouts like this, it’s no wonder the Girl Scout Family is a strong one!

If you’re interested in making a matching gift to help us make #GivingTuesday 2019 even bigger, please contact Vanessa Van Goethem-Piela at vvangoethempiela@gsksmo.org.