Let’s Talk: Sustainability Empowering Female Leadership through Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts is a global movement dating back to 1912. In that time, it has seen significant change and today The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is the largest voluntary movement dedicated to girls and young women. They support 8.9 million young women and girls from across 152 countries with the aim of helping them to achieve their greatest potential.

In the U.S. there are more than 3.2 million girl members and more than 50 millions America women have participated in Girl Scouts. The U.S. Girl Scouts provides programs to help girls achieve goals and learn skills from coding to learning how to lace up boots for hiking, climbing trees or becoming future leaders in science. Members can be any age from kindergarten through to twelfth grade. However, you can be any age to be involved since Girl Scouts continues to foster strong alumni. Many of those who leave, return to roles as adults, helping to run summer camps or participate in national leadership roles.

Christina works as Learning and Development Director for NTT Americas and in her spare time, volunteers for the U.S. Girl Scouts where she leads a troop of 12 girls in 2nd and 3rd grade.

How did you first get involved in Girl Scouts and why?

I first joined the Girl Scouts in second grade, took an extended break, and joined again when my eldest daughter was five-years-old before I started working with NTT. The Girl Scouts have changed a lot in recent years. When I was a scout, I remember spending a lot of time sitting in a circle, talking and selling cookies. Now we run scouting as a hands-on approach to learning leadership through empowering girls to participate in opportunities regardless of their background. I have always wanted my children to be involved in different types of extracurricular activities. The Scouts empower the girls to decide what they want to learn – for example - leadership, engineering, computer science, conservation, or entrepreneurship.

How do Girl Scouts differ to other kids’ clubs?

What I love about Girl Scouts is it is accessible to every girl regardless of their background or abilities. My daughters have been able to do some really cool things because of how hard Girl Scouts work to make those different opportunities accessible. For instance, in my daughter’s troop, we have 12 kids that span every socioeconomic background and physical ability. At the end of the day, they’re just kids having fun, making friends, and trying to make a difference in the world. It’s incredible to see that dynamic and entirely unique to other clubs. Being in learning and development I know a lot of how we learn is through experiential experiences and that’s what’s going to leave a lasting impression on my daughters. I understand that children model what they see. So, I wanted to ensure my daughters were immersed in a community with diverse role models. I’m not an astronaut or heavily into science but I want my daughter to be exposed to people who are so they can see what’s possible in their future.

What are some of the activities you’ve done that were particularly special?

We partnered with Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and hosted a derby car race. The girls had to be engineers to create cars from a wooden block and then race them to see how fast they could go. It helped them learn maths, science, physics, and design concepts through a fun and engaging activity. Another time, we organized 40 Girl Scout families to attend Space Camp in Alabama. Over a three-day weekend, they learned what it takes to be an astronaut. While there, we flew in a spaceship flight simulation. Typically, going to Space Camp is super expensive and out of reach for many people, so Girl Scouts helped bridge that gap by allowing everyone to join in through their partnership with NASA and Girl Scout Council scholarships. Everyone needs someone in their life who has the energy and motivation to coordinate these life-changing experiences for them. If we end up having just one girl see a future for themselves in the space industry, we know we played a big part in that. To me, it’s just amazing to help give the girls those life experiences.

Do the Girl Scouts work much on sustainability?

Yes, absolutely! My youngest daughter’s Scout troop is interested in sustainability and understanding what they can do. Many of the activities we look at focus on how we can help the environment. In one session, we learned about this remarkable woman in Kenya, Wangari Maathai, who saw the impact of lumbering in her local village, so she made a pledge and started planting trees. She motivated all the women in her village to participate and helped them learn how to propagate and grow trees. We took inspiration from that and began to help local neighbours with their gardening, cleaning up, weeding, planting, etc. We also take the chance to provide education on how we can be more sustainable. Things like reducing plastic waste by minimizing consuming single-use plastics, conserving water through shorter showers, and how to re-landscape gardens so they need less water.

What is your role in Girl Scouts and why is it important to you?

Since the organization is a volunteer-led, it is only as great as the volunteers who run it. So I’ve always ended up raising my hand and saying yes I’ll volunteer so that our children can get access to these fantastic resources and opportunities. Typically, I spend 5-8 hours a month working on organizing, coordinating, and participating in the activities. I see it as my opportunity to mentor the next generation of girls. To be able to play that role model in their life is really rewarding. Maybe in a few years, they’ll look back and say, ‘Oh, yeah, I remember Ms. Christina and how she helped us to go to Space Camp.’ We need to help girls continue being inquisitive through their childhood into adulthood, to give them the confidence to raise their hands and ask questions that help to change attitudes. I’m lucky that NTT allows its employees to do something they feel passionate about and give back to society. NTT is walking the walk, which makes me proud to be here.

Christina Holloway

Christina joined NTT Ltd Americas four years ago, holding a role in cloud infrastructure services. It was at a time when the organization was changing management ownership from Dimension Data to NTT. Christina gained experience working in organizational design before moving to product marketing and on to a role as Director of Learning and Development for NTT Ltd Americas, where she is today. Christina is based in California, USA, and has two daughters aged 9 and 13.

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