GSUSA Places Rocket Scientist In Captain’s Seat

Sylvia Acevedo will be taking the “interim” out of her title, assuming the role of chief executive officer at Girls Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), the organization has announced. Acevedo served as interim CEO since June 2016 and previously was secretary of the GSUSA Board of Directors and a member of the Executive Committee.

“Girl Scouts has always been an important part of my life, helping me as a young girl to develop the skills to become a leader,” Acevedo said in a statement. “My focus [at GSUSA] has been to raise the profile of the Girl Scout movement and mission, with the targeted aim to grow membership. So I am excited to be able to move forward with the initiatives I launched with my colleagues over the past year, and to keep our momentum going strong.”

If maintaining momentum proves to be akin to rocket science, Acevedo will be well prepared. Her background is in engineering and she has worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories, IBM, and Dell. Acevedo has also worked as a technology consultant for companies seeking to capitalize on demographic trends and was formerly CEO of Communicard LLC, a technology firm.

An advocate for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for young women, Acevedo is expected to help expand external support for GSUSA’s STEM programming, including in Silicon Valley. She has also served as the board chair for the Austin Community Foundation and is a White House commissioner on the Presidential Initiative for Hispanic Educational Excellence.

A native of Las Cruces, N.M., Acevedo started off as a Brownie in her home community, according to past reports, and most enjoyed earning her bicycling badge. After Girl Scouts, she earned a master’s degree in engineering from Stanford University – launching her career in the STEM field.

Acevedo replaces Anna Mara Chávez, who was at the helm of Girl Scouts for five years, beginning in 2011. Chávez’s tenure was marked with major shifts in the organization, including turnover at executive and development positions and a voluntary separation incentive program that sought to reduce staff at headquarters in New York City, on the heels of a consolidation of 312 councils to 110. Chávez resigned last June to explore opportunities in the public sector. She recently was announced as the new chief strategy officer and senior vice president for external affairs for the Arlington, Va.-based National Council on Aging (NCOA).

GSUSA reported revenues of $94.7 million on its 2015 Form 990, the most recent year available. The figure represented a slight increase from the $94.5 million reported in 2014 and $90.4 million reported in 2013, but far behind the $105.2 million reported for 2012.