Tough Cookies: Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts, New Book by Kathy Cloninger, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA

Oct 18, 2011, 08:42 ET from Girl Scouts of the USA

"In Girl Scouts, we've developed a holistic approach to leadership for girls. It encourages discovering yourself, connecting with others and taking action to make the world a better place." - Kathy Cloninger, CEO of GSUSA

The Girl Scout Movement: How 18 Girls Became 50 Million Women

NEW YORK, Oct. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Girls Scouts organization has shaped the lives of more than 50 million alumnae alive today, among them many of our nation's female leaders. A national poll of American women, in fact, found that two-thirds of women of professional achievement and more than three-fourths of those who were deemed "women of distinction" had been Girl Scouts in their youth. The same poll found that more than four out of five successful professional women who had been Girl Scouts rated their Girl Scout involvement as helping them achieve later success.

In other words, the Girl Scouts stand for much more than cookies, camping, and crafts. There is no other organization remotely comparable in size, experience, and resources devoted to developing leadership in girls.  Kathy Cloninger, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, tells their story in the new book - Tough Cookies: Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts (Wiley; 9781118000045; $24.95; October 2011; Hardcover & E-Book).

Girl Scouts of the USA is gearing up to celebrate its 100th Anniversary in March 2012.  Helping to kick off "The Year of the Girl," November 8-13th will be the Girl Scouts 2011 National Council Session/52nd Convention in Houston, Texas.  The organization was founded by Juliette Gordon Low of Savannah, Georgia, who imagined that Girl Scouting could be "the magic thread" that would connect girls everywhere—and for 50 million women, the ties have never been stronger.

TOUGH COOKIES addresses one of our nation's most underused resources:  Girls, and the women they ultimately can become. Kathy Cloninger makes a convincing case for the enormous untapped potential of America's girls and issues a ringing call to action to girls, boys, parents, the business community, and the public to help females make a better, stronger, and more prosperous future for all.

Cloninger underlines her point with two very personal transformation stories. Cloninger, the first member of her family to attend college, was originally advised by her high-school counselor to set her sights on secretarial school. However, her instincts led to college, then to graduate school, to an extremely successful non-profit career, and finally to her appointment as chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of the USA.

The other story is that of an iconic but fading American institution that under Cloninger's galvanizing leadership transformed itself into an envied and widely imitated model of non-profit management excellence. She renewed and revitalized the organization's commitment to developing girls' leadership capabilities, and implemented a new strategic business plan affecting every major area of organizational activity: programs, volunteerism, brand, funding, and structure/governance.

Under Kathy Cloninger's leadership, Girl Scouts has completed a nationwide merger of local affiliates. This restructuring effort, virtually unprecedented in the nonprofit sector, has greatly enhanced the organization's ability to deliver programs and services to girls.

The TOUGH COOKIES story is not only a celebration of leadership, citizenship, service, confidence and character but a testament to a movement that continues to transform lives and multiply across the globe.

Kathy Cloninger (New York, NY) is Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). She is a recognized expert on, and advocate for, girls' and women's issues. Cloninger is a recognized leader in the nonprofit sector, serving on boards of  the National Assembly of Human Services, the National Council for Research on Women, American Humanics, and Leadership 18.

Cloninger's more than two decades in Girl Scouting include service as CEO with Girl Scout councils in Tennessee, Texas, and Colorado; as national management consultant for GSUSA; and as a participant in groundbreaking task groups strategizing on girls' well-being. She was an executive grant-maker at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, CEO of two YWCA branches in Texas, and a career development consultant.

In the spring of 2011, Cloninger was presented with an honorary doctor of letters degree by her alma mater, Texas A&M University. She has received numerous other awards, including Nonprofit CEO of the Year 2000 from the Center for Nonprofit Management, and CEO of the Year 2008 from the National Assembly of Human Services. In 2007, 2008, and again in 2009 she was named to the NPT Power & Influence Top 50 by The NonProfit Times. In May of 2010 she was named one of "21 Leaders for the 21st Century" by Women's eNews.

Most recently, she served as chair of the National Collaboration for Youth and secretary of the board of directors of the National Assembly of Human Services (2008–2011). Kathy is a member of the national boards of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance and the National Council for Research on Women, and is a member of the Women's Leadership Board of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

A native of Dallas, Texas, Cloninger got her start as a Girl Scout in her mother's troop. She earned an M.S. in counseling and business management from Texas A&M University, Commerce. She and her husband, Mike, favor country music and have hosted nearly 350 world-class songwriter concerts at their homes in Nashville and New York.

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SOURCE Girl Scouts of the USA