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Alumnae

In a country as diverse as the United States of America, it's rare to find something many of us have in common. Can you guess what more than 59 million living women across the country do have in common? They have all benefitted from the nation's premier leadership program for girls: Girl Scouts.

Were you once a Brownie, Cadette, Senior, troop leader or other Girl Scout member? Studies show that Girl Scout alumnae are women of courage, confidence and character, who are making the world a better place right now. Did you know that one in every two women has had a Girl Scout experience in their lifetime? These women recognize that Girl Scouting helped make them who they are today. Now we want to recognize you.

Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas and the Girl Scout Alumnae Association want to bring these women together to continue the positive impact of Girl Scouting in the community. Share your story behind the sash, and be recognized as a Girl Scout Great today!

What is your most favored memory from your time as a Girl Scout? Tell us! Simply fill out the form and continue your Girl Scout journey. As an Alumnae member, you will receive a regular newsletter to keep you updated on Girl Scouting in Southwest Texas and invitations to special Girl Scout events. The Girl Scout Alumnae Association is a great networking tool that continues the circle of sisterhood you once enjoyed. Questions or comments about the Alumnae Association -- Janet Pedrotti (210-349-2404/1-800-580-7247 ext. 223).

Sylvia Benitez
SYLVIA-BENITEZ

Fine Artist, Gentileschi Aegis Gallery Association, Founder/President
Leadership in Art


I am a nationally known fine artist. I lived for many years in New York City. There I learned, often through hard knocks, the ways into the fine art industry. I gained a lot of skills and made many contacts that helped further my career and name. I moved when I was fifty to the San Antonio, Texas area. I noticed a need in its art community. There were very little on no exhibition opportunities for the emerging mature woman artist. So I founded a not-for-profit (501c3) women’s art organization, the Gentileschi Aegis Gallery Association (GAGA). Its mission is to help promote the mature and unsung emerging woman artist in South Texas through educational and exhibition opportunities.

Through GAGA, I am able to share the knowledge and life experience I acquired in my field to help other artists with their struggle. GAGA provides a social network, where women artists can come together in solidarity, share expertise, knowledge, friendship and support. I like to think that GAGA is helping to enrich all of our lives and cultural heritage by supporting those who are over looked by the industry. And that just maybe, these unsung voices, if suddenly heard in the choir of their song, can contribute to a greater understanding of ourselves and the creative directive of this age.


What can you tell us about your Girl Scout experience?

It was wonderful. I made a lot of friends and earned many badges.



How did being a Girl Scout prepare you to be the leader you are today? 

It instilled in me the importance of community and civic responsibility.


Are there any lessons you learned in Girl Scouts that you still live by? 

Honor, trust, love and dedication to work ethics.


Do you have a special story/memory of being a Girl Scout? 

Yes, I was about 8 years old and our troop was making cookies at Mrs. Brown’s house. I was the last one to leave. Back then, we walked home, mom’s didn’t pick us up. It was dark outside. As I left the house, I tripped and fell. I dropped and broke my cookies. I went back to Mrs. Brown in tears. She said, “not to worry, we can make more.” God love her! She must have been tired … but we made up an entirely new batch. Baked them too! That act of kindness has carried me a long way ... and it taught me to go the extra mile.


With the 100th Girl Scout Anniversary upon us, what would you tell a young girl today about the value of being a Girl Scout.
  
I would tell a young Girl Scout that the memories and the friends one makes through working together are a very important part of growing up. That being a Girl Scout paves the way to being a well-rounded individual equipped with the skills she will need throughout her life.


What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
Thin Mint, of course!

Jelynne Leblanc Burley
JELYNNE-LEBLANC-BURLEY

Executive Vice President, Corporate Support Services & Chief Administrative Officer, CPS Energy
Leadership in Management


I am a member of a team of executives who manage the day-to-day operations of CPS Energy. I lead a group of 680 individuals ranging from Human Resources, Supply Chain, Safety, Enterprise Facilities, Economic Development, Business Services, Information Technology and Security. My Corporate Support Services Team supports the entire enterprise of CPS Energy, and we are proud to say we work also on community projects. My team led the CPS Energy United Way Days of Caring event, where hundreds of CPS Energy employees built Garcia Park for Haven for Hope residents. We are CPS Energy – we work for you!


What can you tell us about your Girl Scout experience?

I had a wonderful experience as a Girl Scout learning from many activities in the troop, field trips and summers at camp. I became a Girl Scout in 1966 because the Camp Fire Girls organization at St. Joseph’s Academy would not allow me to join because I was African American. Imagine how embarrassed I felt explaining to my classmates why I wasn’t joining them afterschool in the Camp Fire Girls. My mom found a Brownie Girl Scout troop and I joined and I am friends still today with several of my Girl Scout friends.


Do you remember your Girl Scout Troop Number?

I don’t remember my Girl Scout troop number, but joined in 1966 in Baton Rouge, LA. I still have my pin and star.


How did being a Girl Scout prepare you to be the leader you are today?

The importance of teamwork, community responsibility, leadership skills and that you should honor your friends with respect.


Are there any lessons you learned in Girl Scouts that you still live by?

All of the above, including the importance of diversity and tolerance but primarily, be prepared


With the 100th Girl Scout Anniversary upon us, what would you tell a young girl today about the value of being a Girl Scout.

Service is the price we pay for the space we occupy – being a Girl Scout supports that philosophy 10 fold.


What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
Thin Mints!

Dr. Lee S. Carlisle
DR-CARLISLE

Medical Director of the Medical Arts & Research Center (MARC)
Day Surgery Center UT Medicine San Antonio
Leadership in Medicine


As medical director of a surgery center with four operating rooms, I am responsible for all operational issues that impact patient care, from the medical care itself to keeping the surgeons running on time. I am also in charge of the anesthesia team, UT Medicine Anesthesiology that cares for all patients undergoing surgery.


What can you tell us about your Girl Scout experience?

I remember how much I loved my uniform. I stood up a little straighter when I wore it. As a lover of fashion, I felt confident and empowered in my Girl Scout uniform. My badge sash proudly displayed all of my hard work.


Do you remember your Girl Scout Troop Number?

I do not remember my Girl Scout troop number. As a busy working mother, I barely remember what I cooked for dinner last night.


How did being a Girl Scout prepare you to be the leader you are today?

Girl Scouts reinforced my parents’ message to me. They told me, “You can be anything you want to be. All it takes is hard work.” The Girl Scouts fed my curiosity for learning in a creative and supportive environment. 


Are there any lessons you learned in Girl Scouts that you still live by?

Girl Scouts taught me to learn and grow all of my life. Learn as much as you can about as many things you can. Think of the wide array of badges that the Girl Scouts have. Be courageous enough to try new things. Life is a wonderful adventure.


Do you have a special story/memory of being a Girl Scout?

The awe that I felt when I saw a girl with badges that wrapped down the front of her sash and around to the back. The sash represented success achieved with a lot of hard work and persistence.


With the 100th Girl Scout Anniversary upon us, what would you tell a young girl today about the value of being a Girl Scout.

The value of Girl Scouts is to help encourage the girls to live up to their fullest potential. Reach!


What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
My favorite cookie? Samoas. No question. The caramel and toasted coconut are fabulous.

Janie Martinez Gonzalez
Janie_300dpi_RGB

Webhead, President and CEO
Leadership in Technology


As the President and CEO of Webhead, I am responsible for setting the overall vision, strategy of the company and for leading a diverse team of industry experts in Internet Technologies, Knowledge Engineering, Cyber Security and Cyber Solutions for New Industries. Our work contributes to the federal government’s national defense efforts. Is important we recruit, hire and retain the very best talent, to inspire them for a shared purpose. As a social innovator, my eye is always on the big picture, not just at the task, with almost two decades of business experience I have new visions and plan to take Webhead to new heights. Serving as Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas' Honorary CEO (Cookie Entrepreneur Officer), I am excited, honored to lead thousands of girls as they learn essential skills and become young entrepreneurs and innovators through the Girl Scout Cookie Program.


What can you tell us about your Girl Scout experience?

My Girl Scout experience during my grade school years at Palo Alto Elementary school was great. Our troop mother/leader was Mrs. Janie Echavaria from my childhood neighborhood on the south side of San Antonio, Texas. She was dedicated, creative, and full of life. I also enjoyed the time with my sister and friends from the neighborhood.


Do you remember your Girl Scout Troop Number?

Troop #835


How did being a Girl Scout prepare you to be the leader you are today?

Girl Scouting build character, taught me goal settings and how to work with a diverse group. I learned basic business principles (entrepreneurship, money management, networking, sales and marketing). It also taught me to be resourceful, creative, set new directions and possibilities for my family, education, and career.


Are there any lessons you learned in Girl Scouts that you still live by?

The biggest lesson I learned in Girl Scouting, was community service, to give back through getting involved in matters that made a difference in people lives. As President/CEO of Webhead, we established the GET Involved program with a focus on economic development, education, and health. Our company dedicates financial and manpower resources to programs through the year.


Do you have a special story/memory of being a Girl Scout?

My special memory is my days at summer day camp during our school vacation. Our Girl Scout troop could not afford to attend a privately owned or state park campground so my troop mother decided our summer day camp would take place at Palo Alto Park across from our elementary school. She would pick us up at the door and we would march to the park singing songs. We would arrive early, section off areas with a rope, use the basketball court, covered patio and set up camp every day for a week. Each day we participated in an activity: learned how to make ice cream using a wooden bucket ice cream make, cross knot belt to carry our water canteens, how to start a fire using sticks, first aid and basic safety tips to earn badges/patches. Our troop would also march to local swimming pool to cool off during the hot Texas summers. I really enjoyed the summer day camp, we learned essential skills whiling having fun with friends and my sister.


With the 100th Girl Scout Anniversary upon us, what would you tell a young girl today about the value of being a Girl Scout.

The Girl Scout program offers a safe environment for young girls to discover who they are while having fun doing it. You can learn how to apply your passion and skills through career development activities, it provides you with an opportunity to connect with your community and get involved, to learn how to serve others and work as a team to accomplish set goals. It can also be an opportunity to spend more time with your parent(s), aunts, sister, neighbors and friends and get them involved. The return on investment you will receive will last you a lifetime.

What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
My favorite Girl Scout cookie is the Thin Mint, it is like my (cookie) personality, strong and confident.

Ana Margarita "Cha" Guzman, Ph.D.
Dr-CHA-GUZMAN

President, Palo Alto College
Leadership in Education


I am the first woman president of Palo Alto College on the South Side of San Antonio. We serve approximately 9,500 students (65 percent of who are female) with an annual budget of $25 million. I lead a team of 250 faculty and staff to provide academic programs and services on and off campus in south San Antonio, Bexar County and surrounding counties in South Texas. Prior to assuming that role in 2001, I served as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Education during the Clinton administration. 

What can you tell us about your Girl Scout experience? 

I was a Girl Scout in my native Cuba. I loved having a day set aside after school where I could play with other little girls and learn.

Do you remember your Girl Scout Troop Number?

No, I only remember it was in Havana, Cuba.

How did being a Girl Scout prepare you to be the leader you are today?

Even though I was only a Girl Scout for a short period of time, that experience and others later in life, provided me with leadership skills that have been the foundation to serving my community for over 30 years in various capacities at universities, community colleges, and secondary educational institutions.

Do you have a special story/memory of being a Girl Scout?

I was only a Brownie for a short time because I was a chubby girl and I believed the uniform didn’t look good on me. That was one of the first early experiences in which I realized I could make my own choices. Even though my mom did not want me to quit. 

With the 100th Girl Scout Anniversary upon us, what would you tell a young girl today about the value of being a Girl Scout.  

Actually, my granddaughter Eva Margarita, is a Daisy. I recently told her how proud I was of her being a Girl Scout, and bought many cookies from her this year.


What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
Thin Mints forever!

Sheryl Sculley
Sculley_Port2010_300dpi

City Manager, City of San Antonio
Leadership in Government


I am the Chief Executive Officer of the City Government for San Antonio, Texas. The City Manager runs the day-to-day operations of the City organization, which has a $2.2 billion budget and nearly 12,000 employees. As City Manager, I oversee more than 30 City departments, providing a wide range of services including police and fire services, parks and recreation, health, libraries, streets, finance, budget, aviation and solid waste collection, in addition to general administration of the City.


What can you tell us about your Girl Scout experience?

I was a Brownie and Girl Scout in Highland, Indiana.


Do you remember your Girl Scout Troop Number?
I was in Brownie Troop #66.


How did being a Girl Scout prepare you to be the leader you are today?

Being a Girl Scout taught me the importance of taking on a project and staying committed to it until its successful completion. It also taught me to take ownership of the responsibilities of an assignment or task. Finally, being a Girl Scout taught me the importance of teamwork – by working together, a group can accomplish great things.


Are there any lessons you learned in Girl Scouts that you still live by?

To always put forth my best effort, regardless of how big or small the task.


Do you have a special story/memory of being a Girl Scout?

I remember camping in tents at the Indiana Dunes State Park on Lake Michigan. The Indiana Dunes State Park has large sand dunes along the shoreline that reach nearly 200 feet!


With the 100th Girl Scout Anniversary upon us, what would you tell a young girl today about the value of being a Girl Scout.

The camaraderie you develop with the other girls in your troop is unique and valuable. As a Girl Scout, you will participate in healthy and positive activities that teach you to accomplish goals. Being a Girl Scout will also teach you the importance of community service and leadership – these lessons will remain with you for a lifetime.


What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
Thin Mints!

The Honorable Leticia Van de Putte
LETICIA-VandePutte

State Senator for District 26, Texas Legislature
Leadership in Public Service


I've been a state Senator since 1999, and was first elected to the Texas House in 1990. My job is to work with the other Senators, the House of Representatives, and the Governor to pass laws in our state and help people in my district with government services. My leadership role is given to me by the people who elected me. I'm very proud to represent San Antonio in the Senate, where there are only 31 members, each with lots of responsibilities. I have been proud to have leadership roles in my community even before I was elected, serving on local boards and commissions, including the Airport Advisory Board, and the parks, and the downtown redevelopment board. I also have another job — I work for Davila Pharmacy for most of my income (being a Texas legislator actually pays very little — we do it to serve our communities). And I was proud in my professional life to be president of the Bexar County Pharmacy Association.

As a Legislature member, I was so blessed to have been elected by my peers to be president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators and the National Conference of State Legislatures, serving as president of the latter in 2006-07. On the political side, I had an incredible experience as chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus from June 2003 to June 2011, and was very honored to co-chair the National Democratic Convention that nominated Barack Obama for President of the United States.


What can you tell us about your Girl Scout experience?

I started off as a Brownie at age 5 or 6, and our troop was together through our senior year of high school. I was a Girl Scout, and my daughters were Girl Scouts from elementary until high school. Personally, Girl Scouts has been great for our family.


Do you remember your Girl Scout Troop Number?
I am a proud, proud member of Troop #344.


How did being a Girl Scout prepare you to be the leader you are today?

Girls Scouts is all about building character, and the internal strength of girls. It is not just about their self-esteem, but also about acquiring skills that are good for the girl herself and good for the community. Girl Scouts teaches young women that they can work together to achieve a project or goal. For me, particularly in the high school ages, it was about learning that there is a greater responsibility to the community you live it — that if you've been blessed to have a secure home and a good education, even if you are very, very young, you can give back to the community. I think for Girl Scouts it was that mixture of acquiring skill sets that sometimes weren't taught to little girls back in the '50s and '60s, and strengthening them, and that give-back. I think the characteristics that I look for in leaders are ones that sense that they do have a responsibility to the people that live in their community, or state, or country, and that it's not just about one individual, but it's working as a team, and that's what I do in the Legislature.


Are there any lessons you learned in Girl Scouts that you still live by?

Plan. Make a plan. If it's an outing for a camping trip, learning how to scuba dive, doing a project — plan, plan, plan. Plan for when things don't go right, plan for the contingencies. Practice, so that you get proficient at what you're trying to achieve. And then have fun.


Do you have a special story/memory of being a Girl Scout?

I never realized growing up in the '50s and '60s that Girls Scouts was the only place, at least in San Antonio, that embedded diversity. It wasn't a struggle. So in our troop, there was Theresa Ryan, an Irish Catholic girl. There were the Terrys, an African-American family whose dad was in the Air Force. There were little Jewish girls. And there was Leticia San Miguel (my maiden name) and her cousin Gloria and Sylvia Rodriguez, who were of Mexican heritage. These were all girls in the same troop. We had different religions, different races, and different ethnicities, but Girl Scouts was never segregated. In the '50s and '60s, it was all together before anybody made a real big deal out of it. It was one of the few organizations in which it didn't matter who your mommy and daddy were. It was, "are you a girl and do you want to participate?" That's why my mother encouraged me and made sure I was in Girl Scouting. Now, there were certain troops that went by school or neighborhood, so if they were segregated, it was by neighborhood. But the neighborhood I grew up in was a neighborhood in transition, with all sorts of families. The lesson I learned at a very young age was that you didn't look at people differently because they were another religion, color, or background. That was a valuable lesson.

For me, the little treasure in Girl Scouts wasn't just selling cookies, which was fun, but the skill sets I learned like how to light a campfire with one match, how to be a ham radio operator, my scuba certificate. Morse code! It was a place girls could learn technology. And you could do things that were classified as "boy things."


With the 100th Girl Scout Anniversary upon us, what would you tell a young girl today about the value of being a Girl Scout.

It is a fun and rewarding experience that will help you be a stronger girl and a better adult.


What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
It used to be the Do-si-dos (Peanut Butter Sandwiches). Now I've gotten an affinity for the Samoas. I know it's heresy not to say Thin Mints, but Pete Van de Putte (my husband) and all my kids eat enough of those.

Last year, one of my San Antonio girls was on one of the cookie boxes! And my dear friend Anna Maria Chávez is now the national CEO for Girl Scouts!

Suzanne Wade
SUZANNE-WADE

President, San Antonio Food/Drug Division, H-E-B
Leadership in Business



I am responsible for 208 stores across several geographic areas including the Greater San Antonio City area, Central and North Texas, the Rio Grande Valley, Southwest Texas and the Gulf Coast.


What can you tell us about your Girl Scout experience?

Through Brownies and Girl Scouts I met some of my closest lifelong friends and we still keep in touch to this day. Girl Scouting was the first “after-school activity” I participated in. I grew up in a small town and our troop was very close, we did lots of arts and crafts. The biggest event was camping out. We had so much fun. 


How did being a Girl Scout prepare you to be the leader you are today?

Girl Scouts taught me about courage, confidence and character. I learned to work with a team and gained communication skills that helped me grow into the leadership role I hold today. I learned that I loved to sell and I was good at it. Girl Scouts allowed me to develop into a very goal-oriented woman.


Are there any lessons you learned in Girl Scouts that you still live by?

Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the others gold!


Do you have a special story/memory of being a Girl Scout?

As an older Girl Scout, I volunteered with a friend to help a local Brownie Troop – we felt real smart until we burned all the hamburgers, but our Brownies didn’t care because we made perfect S'mores!


With the 100th Girl Scout Anniversary upon us, what would you tell a young girl today about the value of being a Girl Scout?

Girl Scouts is even more important today since young women have so many opportunities in front of them. Being active in Girl Scouts will give a young woman leadership experience that will be invaluable in her education, her career and life long happiness.


What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
I like them all but Thin Mints have a special place in my heart.

Carri Baker Wells
CARRI-BAKER-WELLS

Chief Operations Officer (San Antonio Office) for Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP
Leadership in Law


This was my first job after graduating from Texas A&M University. I’ve been with the firm over 26 years and I’ve grown from having a marketing/public relations role, to having management oversight over our operations. Our firm has grown from being a small San Antonio law firm, to being a national leader by having a commitment to excellence in our work and to the communities we serve -- much like the Girl Scouts!


What can you tell us about your Girl Scout experience?

Cookies and camping! Selling cookies was my first attempt at selling -- and I learned I could be good at selling something I believed in. My camping experience was the first time I recall being responsible for the planning and serving dinner for my friends. I still love doing both!


Do you remember your Girl Scout Troop number?

I wish, but all my Girl Scout memorabilia burned in a house fire that took everything.


How did being a Girl Scout prepare you to be the leader you are today?

I’d rather reflect on how Girl Scouts led me to be the person I am today. I came to Girl Scouts as a very shy, insecure little girl and it was through Girl Scouting that I have my first memories of developing self-confidence and an interest in service. Girl Scouts gave me a safe, comfortable environment to spread my wings and learn to fly without the risk of failure. Those early seeds of self confidence and hard work took hold, and with subsequent life experiences, I’ve done what most Girl Scouts do … live a life of substance and service.


Are there any lessons you learned in Girl Scouts that you still live by? 

“To serve God and my country … hope to be able to serve others in a meaningful way until the day I die.


Do you have a special story/memory of being a Girl Scout?

As I near 50, the memories are not as sharp. What I love is being able to come back to Girl Scouts as an alumna, connecting with new and old friends, and being able to help Girl Scouts grow stronger for the next 100 years.  

With the 100th Girl Scout Anniversary upon us, what would you tell a young girl today about the value of being a Girl Scout. 

“Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.” It’s a sisterhood of diversity and service that remains a part of you forever. In the next 100 years I hope Girl Scouts connect to their alumnae to cultivate the power of this rich network of women. When you look across our city and beyond, we have a network of women doing everything from the ordinary to the extraordinary every day of the year. There is a role model for everyone.


What's your favorite Girl Scout cookie?

The one sold by a Girl Scout!

Lisa Sanchez-Wong
LISA-SANCHEZ-WONG

Owner, Rosario’s Mexican Café y Cantina in Southtown/King William and the San Antonio International Airport; Ácenar on The River Walk; and R Sala Bebida Botana Bar at the San Antonio International Airport
Leadership in Hospitality


I am the owner of several restaurant concepts in San Antonio and employ more than 200 employees. I oversee the management teams at my restaurants, menu development, marketing and overall strategic planning and development for each venue.


What can you tell us about your Girl Scout experience?  

It was a wonderful time in my life as a young girl to be involved in activities with other girls my own age with similar interests. Growing up, I was always involved in some kind of activity whether it was sports, CYO, or finding ways to earn income.


Do you remember your Girl Scout Troop Number?
Not off hand, but I’ll get back to you.


How did being a Girl Scout prepare you to be the leader you are today?  

It definitely was my earliest experience learning about responsibility – taking on a project and seeing it through from beginning to end. Selling the cookies, collecting the money, and turning it in was all a requirement in earning our merit badges, but it was so much more – it was actually my earliest training ground for learning how to operate my own little business venture!


Are there any lessons you learned in Girl Scouts that you still live by?  

The one principle I learned that has stayed with me all these years is being a good neighbor and helping people. For example, we were taught to open the door for an elderly person or help them carry their groceries if you saw them struggling, basically pitching in where you were needed. This is a principle that has helped me tremendously in the food and hospitality industry because service is at the center of what we do every day.


Do you have a special story/memory of being a Girl Scout?  

Probably getting into trouble with my parents for buying too many cookies for myself! 


With the 100th Girl Scout Anniversary upon us, what would you tell a young girl today about the value of being a Girl Scout.  

It is so important for young girls to get involved in a club, organization or activity where they are given opportunities to develop leadership skills, build relationships and serve others. These valuable lessons I learned from being involved in an organization like the Girl Scouts not only helped to shape and mold my character but gave me a lot of fond memories to look back on.


What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
Trefoil, followed by peanut butter.


Whatever your Girl Scout role may have been - Brownie, Junior, Cadette, troop leader, camp volunteer, staff member, or dozens of others - count yourself among the 59 million women who are today's Girl Scout Greats. Whether you've started a business, you're a doctor or a community activist, tell us your story about where you are today and how your Girl Scout experience helped to get you there.