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Girl Scouts of the USA Picks New National CEO

By The NonProfit Times - August 24, 2011

Anna Maria Chávez, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas in San Antonio, has been selected to run the national operation. She’ll assume her new role as chief executive officer during the Girl Scouts National Council Session/52nd convention in November.

She replaces Kathy Cloninger who led GSUSA for eight years before announcing her retirement earlier this year. Cloninger led GSUSA through a transformation that included consolidating councils from 312 to 112, as well as developing a nationally consistent program portfolio for girls that includes a series of leadership journeys, or coordinated series of activities grouped around a theme, and a revamped system of badges and awards that align with the leadership program.

In addition, Girl Scouts in 2010 launched a national brand campaign, known by the tagline “What Did You Do Today?,” which is designed to inspire girls and adults to join Girl Scouts in making a difference in the world. GSUSA next year will launch its first-ever nationwide fundraising campaign that will extend over five years.

Chávez’s appointment as the 19th chief executive of Girl Scouts comes as the organization readies to launch a national celebration as part of its 100th anniversary designed to honor its legacy and create urgency around girls’ issues.

Chávez was appointed chief executive of the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas in 2009 after serving as deputy chief of staff for urban relations and community development for former Arizona governor and current U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. As deputy chief of staff, she promoted the governor’s policies, programs and initiatives through coordination and partnership with city, county, and tribal governments, federal agencies and community organizations.

In addition, she served as the governor’s policy advisor to the Arizona Department of Housing and advised Napolitano on strategies for coordinating housing and economic development.

Prior to being appointed as deputy chief of staff, Chávez served as Napolitano’s director of intergovernmental affairs from 2003 to 2007. She also served as in-house counsel and assistant director for the Division of Aging & Community Services (DACS) at the Arizona Department of Economic Security. Chávez entered state government after serving as senior policy advisor to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater.

Previously, she had been chief of staff to the deputy administrator at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in Washington, D.C. Chávez also served as chief of staff for SBA’s Office of Government Contracting and Minority Enterprise Development.

Chávez grew up in a Mexican-American family in the small town of Eloy, Arizona, and later in Phoenix. She holds a law degree from the University of Arizona College of Law and a bachelor’s degree in American history from Yale University. Bar admissions include the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, Arizona Supreme Court, and U.S. Supreme Court. Her husband Robert is a financial industry executive and they have a son, Michael.

There have been 18 national CEOs. The first three were known as national secretaries and the next four as national directors. From 1935 until 2002, the title was national executive director. Since then, GSUSA’s top post has been termed chief executive officer.

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