The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas recognized two women during its annual awards luncheon.
The luncheon, held Tuesday at Hollytree Country Club in Tyler, provided an opportunity to celebrate women and the organization as Girl Scouts marks its 100th year.
“I believe that every time a girl becomes a Girl Scout, the community becomes stronger,” Colleen Walker, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, said during the event.
Ms. Walker thanked the many volunteers who support the organization and invest in young women. She also acknowledged the schools and the support they provide.
This year's honorees were Robert E. Lee High School senior Katie Rozell and Tyler resident Lori Gorenflo.
In addition to her Girl Scout involvement, Miss Rozell visits chemotherapy patients as a volunteer at the Tyler Cancer Center, is a counselor at Sunshine Camp for people with disabilities, and she plans to attend medical school so she can become a pediatric oncologist.
She wants to one day open a children's hospital in East Texas so children will not have to travel so far for treatment.
Miss Rozell is a top student in the International Baccalaureate program at Lee and will attend Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., in the fall.
“Girl Scouts has really made an impact on my life in wanting to reach out and be a part of my community and a leader,” she said.
Ms. Gorenflo's family moved around a lot when she was a child and Girl Scouts became one of the constants in her life.
“I started realizing that girls wanted a place to belong,” she said. “They wanted a place where they could be safe, a place to be themselves.”
She said she wanted to instill in her girls a sense of leadership and giving back to the community.
Ms. Gorenflo stayed on as a troop leader until her last remaining Girl Scout received the Gold Award.
Ms. Gorenflo thanked Julia and Louise Arnold, the daughter and mother who nominated her for the award. She also thanked her daughter Jennifer for the sacrifice she made to share her mother with many other girls.
Looking to the future
“We're talking about changing the lives of tens of thousands of girls for hundreds of years to come,” Ms. Walker said.
Kathy Cloninger, chief executive officer emeritus of Girl Scouts of the USA and author of the book “Tough Cookies: Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts,” served as the keynote at the awards luncheon.
Ms. Cloninger spoke about the importance of gender balance in leadership and the role the Girl Scouts can play in that arena.
“(Gender balance in leadership) is essential for the future of this nation to remain strong as a leader among nations,” she said.
She said only 16 percent of elected officials in Congress are women, 15 percent of corporate board room seats are held by women and 3 percent of Fortune 500 companies are led by women.
She pointed out that men and women lead differently. One is not better than the other, she said, but together they could be stronger than men leading by themselves.
The possibilities are great when women join in to create more balanced leadership, she said. The Girl Scouts consider it a responsibility to get more girls in top leadership positions to keep this country strong, she said.
That desire has helped to refocus the organization in the past few years.
She said that refocusing led to a transformation within the organization.
“We aim to, in a single generation, reach a tipping point where women and men do come together in blended leadership to get gender balance,” she said.