2010 Best of the Best
Congratulations to Gina Thompson, the Best of the Best Award Winner for 2010!
We wish to congratulate Gina Thompson as being named the inaugural award winner for 2010. Gina was selected as the winner of the Excellence of Creativity and Innovation Award in January 2010 for her work in encouraging the use of technology in the membership department. Gina, as part of the SWTE (Staff Working Together Effectively) committee, was also instrumental in helping design the new organizational structure for the Membership, Volunteerism and Program (MVP) department. The new structure went live August 2 and Gina was promoted to the position of Director of Membership and Community Development. In this role, Gina has excelled in leading her team, many of them new to Girl Scouts, to many successes in her department. She works tirelessly to encourage staff to take Girl Scouts to the next level. Gina is a true visionary and serves as an example of dedication, integrity and commitment to girls, staff, and volunteers.
Lisa Garcia, Excellence of Customer Service Award
“Lisa is objective and thoughtful in her approach to Human Resources and employees can rely on her to be fair, unbiased and knowledgeable about her area of work. When you go to Lisa with a question or concern, you can be sure she will listen to you, investigate options and resources and provide the best solutions possible. She strives to educate our employees on their benefits and is always approachable. During the MVP transformation, she worked countless hours dedicated to ensuring the process was clear in its objectives and ethical in its implementation. She created an on boarding process and orientation process that makes certain every new employee is aware of his/her responsibilities, is knowledgeable about Girl Scouts and has the information needed to begin their employment. She is always professional and makes every effort to make the HR department a ‘go to’ place for employees.”
Lynn Jefferson, Excellence of Leadership Award
“During the transformation of the MVP department, Lynn Jefferson has exhibited phenomenal leadership qualities. She participated in numerous meetings providing valuable feedback on possible organizational structures, best practices and how best to allocate resources, all while keeping the girls’ and volunteers’ best interest in mind. Since being appointed Team Lead, she has taken the initiative to ensure her team works efficiently and effectively. Lynn adheres to the Girl Scout promise to help people at all times as she is always available to answer a question or help a team member in any and every way she can. She is a mentor to not just her team but anyone who needs an answer or assistance or better yet -- a good laugh! Her humor has brightened many people’s days, providing comic relief while fostering harmony and camaraderie. Lynn is a true leader and is most deserving of this Recognizing Excellence Staff Award.”
Crystal Haskins, Excellence of Customer Service Award
“I have known Crystal since she came to work for GSSWT. In that time, she has been helpful beyond all expectations but mostly she has gone above and beyond at her job, and anything else that was dropped on her desk. I know that she has spent many nights working late to meet impossible deadlines. An ordinary person would have quit! But Crystal is an extraordinary person of character and commitment…She has worked diligently to make it possible for us to give girls the very best experiences and for us to have the very best experiences at the Council Offices…She never grumps, is always smiling and happy and acts like there is nothing she would rather do than solve the problem I am having right now regardless of how many problems are sitting on her desk…I really feel Crystal should be recognized for all she does.”
Cathy Noll, Excellence of Team Work Award
“Cathy Noll is such a pleasure to work with. She is always willing to give a helping hand. She makes an effort to attend all the events that she possibly can. Cathy is always willing to lend an ear and be a friend to all.” “As a new Girl Scout leader, Cathy has been a fountain of information. She has answered every question, provides me with any form needed and she encourages me when I didn’t think I could do it. She is very open to ideas. Cathy has a great sense of humor and makes the meetings fun.” “I am an orientation presenter and secretary. Whatever I need, I call Cathy and she informs me with all the correct information. I would like to thank her very much.” “Since Cathy has become our MDE (Membership Development Executive), our service unit, our leaders and volunteers have become more involved. Cathy has enabled us to take more training classes to better our leadership skills and get our girls motivated. Our girls are benefitting more through the lessons, journeys and other activities we hold and attend…It has been such a pleasure working with Cathy and I am looking forward to working with her in the future.” “I am a new troop leader and Cathy has been such a great leader to me. She has helped in the past several months with every question I had and have. She is patient and very knowledgeable. She has provided me with excellent information and resources. She always returns my calls or replies to my emails in a timely manner. Thank you very much Cathy!”
Lucy McArthur, Excellence in Commitment Award
“Lucy is continuously seeking new ways to outreach and support girls. She never hesitates to help and encourage. She is always the first one to remind us that “it’s for the girls”. Lucy’s passion and commitment to serving and outreaching to girls is an encouraging example. Lucy is always available to help and support in any area when needed and she is committed to unifying all council areas. Her hard work and creative ways of outreaching has highly impacted not only the girls’ lives in community housing but also her leaders whom she builds up and encourages to lead. Lastly, Lucy approaches her job with optimism, encouragement and integrity; making her an excellent example to the girls.”
Sherry Cook, Excellence in Leadership Award
“Sherry Cook demonstrates her leadership through her role as Change Champion for the MVP (Membership Volunteer Program) Staff restructure group. She has consistently led the group by facilitating discussion to provoke respectful opinion-sharing, thoughtful dialogue and keeping us on task…Sherry has also demonstrated great leadership, flexibility, and teamwork through her involvement with the Young Women’s Leadership Academy over the past two school years. Sherry has led the charge to engage girls of YWLA in Girl Scouts during the school day while constantly thinking of new ways to involve them with council-sponsored activities as well. In any situation, crisis or otherwise, Sherry remains calm and collected, a virtue we all strive to know.”
Gina Thompson, Excellence of Creativity and Innovation
Nominated by Stephanie Finleon
Gina was the first and most productive employee to fully embrace staff use of technology. She was first to encourage the use of the portal for the membership department in order to share and store the information necessary to support the recruitment function. Gina was instrumental as the chair of the SWTE (Staff Working Together Effectively) committee. The SWTE committee led the charge for use of the portal by all departments. Though many people have been involved with brainstorming, creating, and using the portal--the vision was always Gina’s, and as the one constant, was able to bring people together to 1) share her vision, 2) use other’s talents and ideas to create new tools, and 3) made it useful and a tool used by all staff.
Diane Sifuentes, Excellence of Customer Service
Nominated by Jerry Langdon
Diane has always been professional and friendly when dealing with staff at camp. She handles changes with grace and flexibility. Other people strive to emulate her qualities: friendliness, caring for others, and maintaining a positive attitude. Comments from other staff and volunteers always describe Diane as warm, always smiling, and friendly. To sum it up: “She Is Great!”
Becky Jennings, Excellence of Flexibility
Nominated by Bill Schneider
When you talk about flexibility, Becky automatically comes to mind. Dedicating over 40 weekends a year to programs, Becky is constantly on the go! Always driving between the leadership center, Camp Mira Sol, Camp La Jita, and all places in-between, she will do whatever it takes to make sure the programs have what they need to be successful. When met with roadblocks to success, Becky's first concern is for the girls and always asks "what do we need to do to make this program happen?" She will check her resources, consult with volunteers to arrive at great solutions.
Janice Jentsch, Excellence of Teamwork
Nominated by Caroline Broderick
"Quite simply, Janice is the best MDE I have ever worked with, and they have all been great. Teamwork is obviously a vital part of a successful service unit and Janice encourages this at every opportunity. I always come away from cluster meetings with new ideas and thoughts and a very much renewed sense of spirit ... She has created a strong team and support network beyond the individual service unit -- not something I had experienced before. She approaches everything she does with such a positive attitude that problems disappear ... It is difficult to be more specific about why Janice should be honored because so much of her excellence in teamwork is because of her character: her honesty and integrity, her deep well of creativity and innovation, her drive, her sense of fun, but also her sense of duty towards our girls and a deep appreciation of our volunteers. Janice is a joy to work with."
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest recognition earned by Girl Scouts ages 14-17. The leadership skills and sense of community and commitment developed by earning the Gold Award sets the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship.
Twenty-eight Girl Scouts from across the council's jurisdiction were awarded the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award in May 2009. Each recipient successfully completed the seven steps and 120 hours in leadership development, career exploration, and community involvement required to earn the Gold Award.
The Gold Award project is the culmination of the prestigious award and offers each girl the opportunity to plan and implement a meaningful Take Action project that fulfills an on-going need within the community.
Bonniecrafted a 4 x 8 foot raised vegetable garden bed for the residents of an apartment complex on the west side of San Antonio. Her garden will provide fresh vegetables to help residents save money on produce and eat a healthier diet. Bonnie is in Troop 2092 in the Alamo Heights Service Unit and will be a senior at Alamo Heights High School in the fall.
Understanding that children residing at the Ronald McDonald House are often too sick to take hikes or play outdoors, Nora wanted to provide a constructive outlet for their tension and connect them with a peaceful part of nature. She built at 16 x 16 foot raised herb and vegetable garden in hopes that being outdoors would help the children heal faster. Nora is in Troop 1111 in the Jackson/Nimitz Service Unit and will be a junior at Antonian College Preparatory High School in the fall.
Jensen designed and printed a pet adoption pamphlet and made pet toys for the Nine Lives Book Store to help new pet owners become more familiar with the new member of the family. Jensen was an individually-registered Girl Scout in the Lackland Service Unit before her recent move to New Jersey.
Juliebuilt a 30 x 15 foot butterfly garden at St. George Episcopal School. Her garden did not only beautify an area that had previously been an eyesore, but the garden will also serve an educational purpose and inform students about the butterfly life cycle. Julie is in Troop 1111 in the Jackson/Nimitz Service Unit and will be a junior at Antonian College Preparatory High School in the fall.
Knowing from personal experience how trying it is to have a parent deployed to a combat zone, Amanda created the Web site and forum, militaryteenchat.com. The Web site serves as a support group for teens in similar situations, so that they have someone to talk to and who understands their needs. Amanda is in Troop 1255 in the Connally Service Unit and is a 2009 graduate of Communications Arts High School. She plans to attend Cottey College in the fall.
To give children "A Brighter Future," Rebekah led a book drive and redesigned the children’s room at Madison Square Presbyterian Church. Her efforts provided a fun atmosphere for worship and allowed children to expand their imaginations with a variety of books. Rebekah is in Troop 593 in the Driscoll/Harris/Wood Service Unit and is a 2009 graduate of Madison High School. She plans to attend Schreiner University in the fall.
With a passion for animals and a desire to see San Antonio as a no-kill city, Tyrella hosted a Spaying and Neutering Awareness Day and created and informational brochure for the community. Tyrella is in Troop 1111 in the Jackson/Nimitz Service Unit and will be a sophomore at the School of Excellence in the fall.
Samantha recognized that many of the new moms giving birth at Baptist Hospital do not have the means to purchase new blankets for their infants, so she made baby blankets for the Pregnancy Incentive Program at Baptist Hospital. Samantha is an individually-registered Girl Scout in Hobby Service Unit and is a 2009 graduate of Health Careers High School. She plans to attend Texas A&M University in the fall.
Knowing it’s easy to get bored in the hospital, Sarah put to use her love of art and painted 40 ceiling tiles for the patient’s rooms at Methodist Children’s Hospital. She also assembled goody bags full of candy and small activities for the hospital’s Halloween Party. Sarah is in Troop 1263 in the Bush/Lopez Service Unit and is a 2009 graduate of Ronald Reagan High School. Sarah will be attending Florida State University in the fall.
Tessacollected more than 100 teen-rated movies and established the Teen Patient Entertainment Project at Methodist Children’s Hospital. Tessa also collected laptops for teen patients to use as they stay up to date on school work and in touch with friends while confined to their hospital rooms. Tessa is in Troop 1263 in the Bush/Lopez Service Unit and is a 2009 graduate of Ronald Reagan High School. Tessa plans to attend Southern Methodist University in the fall.
Understanding that books enrich people’s lives with imagination and hope, Michal read and recorded 50 books onto CDs for the children at the Ronald McDonald House. Michal is in Troop 1111 in the Jackson/Nimitz Service Unit and will be a junior at Incarnate Word High School in the fall.
Alirenovated the youth room at the Boerne First United Methodist Church. She designed a wall mural with silhouettes of people that creatively tied into the new mission of the church’s youth ministry. Ali is in Troop 6 in Kendall County Service Unit and will be a junior at Samuel V. Champion High School in the fall.
renovated the youth room at the Boerne First United Methodist Church. She refurnished the room with couches and rugs to create a fun and safe place for teens to hang out. Christen is in Troop 6 and will be a junior at Samuel V. Champion High School in the fall.
Courtney collected more than 900 books and furnished a library at the Ronald McDonald House to give the children and their families a cozy atmosphere to read and relax. Courtney is in Troop 1111 in the Jackson/Nimitz Service Unit and will be a junior at Incarnate Word High School in the fall.
Caring deeply about the initiatives of the Animal Defense League, Robin saw a need to educate children on being more responsible pet owners. She created two publications and hosted activities at the ADL during Spring Break. Robin is in Troop 90 in the Alamo Heights Service Unit and will be a junior at St. Mary’s Hall in the fall.
Vanessa organized the Children Around the World event for students at Indian Creek Elementary. The event taught children about other countries through cultural crafts, stories and food from Australia, France and Japan. Vanessa is in Troop 142 in Atascosa County Service Unit and is a 2009 graduate of Southwest High School. Vanessa will be attending Northwest Vista College in the fall.
Wanting to fight illiteracy,Arleya created the unique Reading Café for children at the East Side Boys and Girls Club. She also hosted a book giveaway, hoping to instill a love for reading in young children. Arleya is in Troop 375 in the Martin Luther King Service Unit and will be a senior at Business Careers High School in the fall.
With aspirations to be an infectious disease researcher, JaNise educated the community about the importance of vaccinations. She shared her message, Vaccinate Now!, at her school, church youth group, and with the local NAACP chapter. JaNise is in Troop 375 in the Martin Luther King Service Unit and is a 2009 graduate of Rick Hawkins High School. She will be attending the University of Houston in the fall.
Kaliahorganized a four-day workshop, Understanding You, for young ladies age 12-15. The workshop focused on self-assurance, hygiene and appearance. Kaliah is in Troop 375 in the Martin Luther King Service Unit and is a 2009 graduate of Judson High School. Kaliah plans to attend Wiley College in the fall.
In memory of her special-needs brother, Zoe landscaped the neglected yard at Davidson House for Respite Care of San Antonio. Zoe is in Troop 594 in Alamo Heights Service Unit and will be a senior at Alamo Heights High School in the fall.
Jennifer organized a three-day orientation camp for the new Orchestra students at Lee High School. Jennifer is in Troop 1118 in Rudder Service Unit and is a 2009 graduate of Lee High School. Jennifer is planning to attend Northwestern University in the fall.
Paige,who suffers from diabetes, hosted a Diabetes Awareness Walk. She produced a short film and shared her story with more than 500 children. Paige is in Troop 2092 in Alamo Heights Service Unit and will be a senior at Alamo Heights High School in the fall.
A former patient at Methodist Children’s Hospital, Audrey saw a need for boredom-busting items and assembled 100 gift bags full of stuffed animals, hand-held games and coloring books for the young patients at the hospital. Audrey is in Troop 1263 in the Bush/Lopez Service Unit and is a 2009 graduate of Ronald Reagan High School. Audrey plans to attend Texas Tech University in the fall.
Nikkicreated the “Recycling Bug” project, developed to educate people of the need to recycle and save our environment and landfills. Hundreds of pounds of recyclables were collected at the LBJ Marina and disposed of properly. Nikki is in Troop 951 in the Alamo Heights Service Unit and will be a senior at Alamo Heights High School in the fall.
With a desire to give hope to the homeless, Molly redesigned the entrance to the Public Safety Triage and Detoxification Center at Haven for Hope to inspire patients as they take their first step toward a substance-free life. Molly is in Troop 951 in the Alamo Heights Service Unit and will be a junior at San Antonio Christian School in the fall.
Danielle established the Reading Railroad at Timberwilde Elementary by collecting more than 1,000 books to gift to students at the school. By promoting literacy and encouraging students to read at home, Danielle hopes her program will pave the path to higher education. Danielle is in Troop 416 in Connally Service Unit and is a 2009 graduate of Warren High School. Danielle plans to attend Baylor University in the fall.
Juliacreated “Common Sense Conversation,” a curriculum focused on educating youth on ways to take care of the Earth. The program teaches children how water, air, land, and the use of natural resources are connected to us, as well as why they are important and how we can protect them. Julia is in Troop 1111 in the Jackson/Nimitz Service Unit and will be a junior at Antonian College Preparatory High School in the fall.
Sophiashared her passion for dance while organizing a ballet workshop at Victoria Courts Daycare for at-risk girls. The four-week program culminated in a recital for parents which showcased an original dance choreographed by Sophia. Sophia is in Troop 951 in the Alamo Heights Service Unit and will be a junior at Alamo Heights High School in the fall.
Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas is pleased to honor these young women, who have shown what it is to be a girl built of courage, confidence, and character. Gold Award recipients from across Texas were honored in a state-wide ceremony in Austin on June 8, 2009.
Marty is well known for his achievements and vision. A Fort Worth native, Marty began his San Antonio business career in 1969, upon graduating from the Business Honors Program at The University of Texas at Austin and marrying San Antonio native Rene Lynn Mandel. Charles Martin Wender's business real estate development projects in San Antonio include Westover Hills in the northwest area, Fawn Meadow in the Medical Center, Crownridge at IH 10 West and Camp Bullis Road and Oak Run in New Braunfels. Marty's visions of a revitalization of the city's west side have come to fruition in his Westover Hills development. He was selected as one of five "Visionaries" by the San Antonio Business Journal special section entitled "A Century of Business" for his vision and accomplishments in west San Antonio and his Westover Hills Development.
Chris Wammack is the Senior Manager/Assistant Vice President of the South Central Division Business Unit of Capitol Group. He has worked with Capitol Group for 12 years and his business division works with financial advisors across the South Central part of the United States to provide information on mutual funds and retirement plan products offered through American Funds, one of the Capital Group Companies. Chris is a Texan native and grew up in Houston. He has two children – a five-year-old son, Christian, and a nine-year-old daughter, Rain, who is a Girl Scout at St. Anthony Catholic School. He is actively involved in the community and volunteers for Junior Achievement, a mentoring program for at-risk youth at Sul Ross Middle School, and a coaching program at the YMCA. His personal interests include science, math and astronomy. His dedication to Girl Scouts stems from his interest in developing leadership opportunities for girls and educating others on the mission and accomplishments of Girl Scouts.
Lisa Uribe, Ph.D.has completed a two-year term as 2nd Vice Chair of Associations and is now a member-at-large. She has served on the Executive Committee, Organizational Review Committee and the Centennial Task Group. Lisa is a coordinator for The Women’s Global Connection, a web-based organization which connects women and their communities internationally. Lisa coordinates the Children Under Seven project in Zambia. She continues working with the Zambia Project and their many partners such as Christus Fund, UNICEF and the Zambian Ministry of Education. She has presented numerous papers at conferences of the San Antonio Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She is a member of Kappa Delta Phi, education honors society, and has served as Board President. Lisa has served on the Board of Positive Beginnings Child Development Center and Voices for Children. She is a troop leader at Keystone School.
Linda is the Senior Vice President and Compliance Officer at the First State Bank of Uvalde in Uvalde. Linda has more than 35 years experience in the banking industry, which includes four years with the Texas Department of Banking where she worked as a Commissioned Bank Examiner. Active in the community she serves on the Uvalde Child Welfare Board and has served as Past President of Uvalde Community Chest, Past President of the Uvalde Chamber of Commerce, and board member of the Uvalde Arts Council, the El Progreso Memorial Library and the Uvalde CVB. She served five years on the board of El Camino Girl Scout Council and has served on the board of the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas since realignment. She is a lifetime member of Girl Scouts and has received various awards for service including the Daisy Pin and the President’s Volunteer Award.
Courtney Skarda Peña currently serves as the Director of Lead Development at Rackspace Hosting in San Antonio, Texas. Rackspace Hosting is the world’s leader in the hosting and cloud computing industry. The company hosts Web sites, servers, applications and e-mail and also provides storage. Prior to this Rackspace position, she worked for Dell, Inc. as the Sales Manager for Small and Medium Business Online Division where she managed the new hire training program, managed the staffing of a new call center in Oklahoma and Ranked #1 of In-bound Queue Managers in Attainment and Stacks performance across sites for eight months. She was also responsible for the creation, implementation and tracking of all HR related practices within her sales division including locations in Texas, Bangalore and Oklahoma. Courtney was raised in San Antonio and currently lives in Comal County with her husband and two small sons. Courtney is a Girl Scout alumna.
Marisa Martinez Palmer is the Manager in the Treatment and Recycle Engineering Section for the San Antonio Water System (SAWS). She manages engineers that develop, plan, initiate, and manage the design of construction projects related to SAWS wastewater treatment, recycle, and heating and cooling facilities. Prior to returning to her home town of San Antonio, Marisa worked for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency as a Project Engineer in the Division of Environmental Financial Assistance and the Division of Hazardous Waste Management. She is licensed as a Professional Engineer in Texas and Ohio. Marisa is a graduate of the 2008 Alex Briseño Development Leadership Program. Currently, Marisa is a volunteer with the Catholic Charity Court Visitor Program and is on the Madonna Neighborhood Center, Inc. Board of Directors. Marisa credits her participation in the Pre-Freshman Engineering Program at UTSA for her decision to pursue an engineering career. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and a Master of Science from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
Carla Mancha is the Executive Director for the Eagle Pass Housing Authority (EPHA). She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a Liberal Arts degree for double majoring in history and government, and holds a Master of Public Administration from St. Mary’s University. Carla also attended Southwest Texas Junior College and Sul Ross University for her studies in education. She is certified to teach history at the secondary level and taught history for four years at Memorial Jr. High School. Before being named the executive director for EPHA, she was the city planner for the City of Eagle Pass for four years. Under her tenure, the EPHA was named a high-performing public housing authority by Housing and Urban Development. Carla has served as a board member to the Texas Housing Association for two years and currently serves on a committee for Texas NAHRO as an advocate for small housing authorities. Carla’s service to GSSWT includes being a member-at-large (2010–2012). She is a third generation resident in Eagle Pass and is married to Arturo Juarez, Jr.
Kathleen is the former mayor pro-tem for the city of New Braunfels and has served on the New Braunfels City Council for two three-year terms. After graduating from Texas A&M University, Kathleen worked as a legislative assistant in the office of U.S. Representative Sam B. Hall, Jr. She is married to Bob Krueger, former U.S. Senator and American Ambassador. During the years they lived in Africa, Kathleen was president of the Diplomatic Women’s Association and served on the board of an international children’s charity. She worked with Habitat for Humanity to build homes in remote African villages and led an international Red Cross expedition into the Kalahari Desert to provide clothing for the bushmen of Botswana. Kathleen and her husband published an award-winning book in 2008 about their experiences living amid warfare and genocide in Burundi, Africa titled, From Bloodshed to Hope: Our Embassy Years During Genocide. The book received wide acclaim, including the 2008 Institute of Letters Award for the best non-fiction book in Texas. Kathleen has served as a board member for Hill Country Alliance, Children’s Museum and Eden Hill, Inc., which is a long-term care facility for the elderly. She has also served as a volunteer for the Parent Teacher Association, New Braunfels Wurstfest and American Red Cross. Kathleen’s service with GSSWT includes one term (2010-2012) as a member-at-large. Kathleen and Bob have been married for 29 years and have three children: Mariana, Sarah and Christian.