Girl Scouts of Louisiana East Recognizes Local Leaders, Highlights Their Mission

Photo from GSLE
Nandi Gayles, Helena Moreno and Alexa Chandler

NEW ORLEANS – During a recent luncheon that honored local women in leadership roles, Jill Pollard recalled growing up in an era where a woman’s “degree was a M-R-S … Mrs. … not a college degree.” But fortunately, girls are now raised knowing they can pursue academic and professional careers in male-dominated fields, said Pollard, the chief development officer of program and properties for Girl Scouts Louisiana East (GSLE).

The Girl Scouts, a nationwide organization comprising 1.8 million girls and 800,000 adults, reinforces this belief to its young members, by teaching them the leadership and teamwork skills that will one day help them succeed in the workforce. 

Their program is effective because it happens in an all-girl setting, said Pollard.

“(Girl Scouts) gives those girls chances they don't normally get in a boy-girl, male-female role, because honestly, the males are quite often favored,” said Pollard. “(Boys) are allowed to answer where the girls have to really struggle. And a girl who has to struggle to be recognized is considered too assertive, or aggressive. It doesn't happen all the time, but we still see it so often, so it's important that these girls get this leadership.”

During the Juliette Low Leadership Luncheon, which took place in the Audubon Tea Room on Oct. 31, Jacquelyn Daniels received the Minnie Finley Award – an award given to a GSLE council volunteer who has made a difference in the regional community.

“Jackie Daniels has been such a strong supporter of Girl Scouts,” said Pollard, citing the numerous Scout committees and boards Daniels has served on over the years. “She does everything and anything she can to support the council, and for our program to have more opportunities.”

Wearing an elegant pink suit and a strand of pearls, Daniels shared her thoughts on young women in today’s world.
“The future is theirs,” she said. “We are letting girls know that whatever path they want, there are no barriers anymore; they can be whatever they want to be.”

Daniels, a native New Orleanian, joined the Brownies when she was seven-years-old and has been involved in Girl Scouts ever since. She headed the Girl Scouts Louisiana East Council following its realignment with the legacy Girl Scouts – Audubon Council in 2008, serving as its first board chair for two terms. She earned her 50 Years of Volunteer Service this past spring.

The luncheon also recognized the individuals, businesses and organizations that exemplify the legacy of Girl Scouts’ founder, Juliette Low – a woman who outgrew the trappings of an upper-class society life and created an organization that emphasizes the importance of leadership, confidence, teamwork, outdoor skills, philanthropy and equality.

Distinguished guests included Helena Moreno, Councilmember-at-Large, Outstanding Woman; Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, Outstanding Man; Shell, Outstanding Business/Foundation; and 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans, Outstanding Business/ Educators.

“The award recipients were selected based on the positive impact they have on the children in our communities, along with their mentorship and dedication to our underserved communities” said Toya Brown-Robertson, who serves on the luncheon committee with Mary Jane Becker and Genny May. “Each recipient has not only supported Girl Scouts, but they have empowered youth and women of the New Orleans community, in general.”

The proceeds from the luncheon went towards programming, uniforms, event fees, camp and travel for underserved Girl Scouts across Southeast Louisiana. 

One of the boys?

About a year ago, The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced that they’d begin allowing girls to become Scouts; they will soon change their name to Scouts BSA.

Per the organization’s website: “The BSA’s mission is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law … By welcoming both girls and boys into the program, even more youth will have access to the character development and values-based leadership that Scouting promises.”

In May of 2018, Washington Post reported that “more than 3,000 girls have already signed up for the Cub Scouts as part of an 'early adopter' program." 

BSA’s decision to welcome girls has been met with mixed reviews. Some women see it as a win, while others worry about the future of Girl Scouts – an organization that was launched in 1912, before women had won the right to vote.

Pollard said BSA’s move has not compelled the Girl Scouts to make changes to its program.

“We support girls. We are an all-girls organization and we will remain an all-girls organization, because girls are unique and girls need to be developed as girls,” said Pollard. “They have unique needs and we are the organization to meet those needs.”

She believes that the Girl Scouts’ collection of activities are as diverse and challenging as the Boy Scouts. 

“We have the same opportunities, and even more, at our camps. We have the horse program, the high ropes, and the zip-line. We have canoeing, sailing, and swimming. We have outdoor skills,” Pollard explained. “We afford the girls every opportunity that they have in Boy Scouts, in a girl-only environment, so they're not competing with that boy to get to do that activity. They develop a plan and move forward. We're very excited about that.”


By Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur, Biz New Orleans associate news editor


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