Changing the world for the better is goal of the program
NEWPORT, RI | Girl Scouts in grades 10-12 from all over New England gained new leadership skills the weekend of March 8-10 at the Global Leadership Conference held at Salve Regina University. A total of 200 girls and adults participated in the event organized by Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, the council covering New Hampshire and Vermont, including girls from Bedford, Concord, Lebanon, Nashua, East Kingston, Stratham, Nottingham, Lee, Barrington, Fitzwilliam, Exeter, Dover, Deerfield, Atkinson, Littleton, and Manchester, NH; and from Middletown Springs, Bristol and Forest Dale, VT.
A regional Girl Scout tradition for the past three decades, the Global Leadership Conference (formerly the Senior Leadership Conference) has grown from a small gathering of Girl Scouts to a three-day conference addressing the changing world girls face each day. Those attending had the opportunity to engage with women who are changing the world, and participate in 48 workshops on STEM, social justice, college prep, financial literacy, health and fitness, stress management, human trafficking, depression and suicide, gender identity and more.
This year’s keynote speaker was Ali Rabideau, who has worked as an investigator for the Southern Center for Human Rights, a nonprofit law office in Atlanta that works to bring equality, dignity, and justice into the criminal system in Georgia and Atlanta. She spoke about the criminal justice system in the South, sharing stories of clients who had spent 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, and the inequalities of incarceration based on race.
“You know (her speech was) good when every single girl with us wished it was longer,” said Megan Cuddy, a volunteer service coordinator with Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, and a Gold Award Girl Scout. “There was no pause in conversation at lunch as the girls shared what they had learned with each other.”
Also speaking at the event were Patricia Mellor, CEO of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains; Lalah C. Williams on the Girl Scout Gold Award; Emily Pasnak-Lapchick, founder of UNICEF USA Human Trafficking program; Viju Gopalan, director of Noopur Nritya Academy, a school for Indian classic dance; Dr. Sylvia Dee of Rice University, on climate change; Jessica Morris of UNICEF USA, on community activism; and Caroline Smith on her experiences in China.
Some of the most popular workshops included The Science of Climate Change; Sorting It All Out – the College Dilemma; Building Strong Bodies; From Band-Aids to Breast Cancer: The Impact and Importance of Medical Research; You Made It! Interview Skills That Work; Leading Ladies in Drama; Alternative Methods for Managing Anxiety through Yoga and Tapping; From Catapults to Cosmetics: The World of Engineering; No More Drama: Conflict Resolution for the Real World; Seeing the World and Not Embarrassing Yourself; Tower of Terror (engineering); Survival: The First Year (of college); Self Care through Massage Therapy; Peace Starts with Cultural Understanding; Craters, Spacecraft, and the Surfaces of our Solar System; Eyes on You (social media); Improv Intensive: Leadership and Laughter; and All Aboard the Creative Express.
“This was my first time at the Global Leadership Conference,” said Audrey Latino, an Ambassador Girl Scout from Atkinson, NH. “I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it. Even on night one, I learned so much and met new friends. As the weekend went on, I met even more new friends and learned many new things. My favorite workshop was the improv, where I got to act out fun things and make people laugh! I wish I had known about this conference sooner so I could have gone the other two years. I would love to see what happens in my future and come back and give a talk myself!”
Audrey’s mother, Christine Latino, also attended. “What an amazing weekend!” she said. “The Global Leadership Conference was even better than I imagined! My daughter and I learned a lot, made new friends, and had a blast. The keynote speakers were experts in their fields and had interesting stories to share; I appreciated their individual connection to Girl Scouts. It reinforced to me how valuable the Girl Scout program is to today’s young woman. I am so glad my daughter has remained a Girl Scout since her first year as a Daisy. I am sad that this is her final year. I recommend this conference to my fellow Scout parents and troop leaders. The workshops, useful resources, connecting with peers, and time on the beautiful campus of Salve Regina University helped to make this an unforgettable experience. A dance party in a Newport mansion’s ballroom was the icing on the cake!”
“The conference was very inspiring and I had a lot of fun,” said Emily Nichols of Lebanon, NH, Troop 10362. “I learned about other women’s accomplishments and what they have done for others in need. This was very motivational for my Gold Award project. I found out about other opportunities such as internships, high school programs and major organizations that help people across the country and all over the world.”
Nicole Piette’s mother, Peggy, accompanied her Girl Scout to the conference. “This was her second year attending and she is a graduating senior,” she said. “It has been a wonderful experience to meet girls and adults from other councils. The speakers and the topics are fantastic. It’s a great opportunity for girls to be part of such a global professional conference at such a young age.”
At the conference, many participated in a service project called Project Undercover. Participants were asked to bring new socks, underwear, and diapers to the conference for the 30,000 children under the age of 7 who live in poverty in Rhode Island, eastern Connecticut, and bordering communities in Massachusetts. Such items are not typically handed down or available at thrift shops because they wear out or are meant for a single use. Girl Scout Troop 28 in Cranston is working with the Rhode Island Donation Exchange Program to bring the items to their collection center.
Conference Director Karen Pehrson gave the girls a challenge as the conference closed. “We need women to be loud,” she said. “Use your voice and be heard. I challenge you to find how you can make a difference and change the future for the better.”
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org.