Anna Maria Chàvez, the national CEO of Girl Scouts (or “Eagle1,” as a group of Brownies named her after visiting her “treehouse” office in a tall building) came to town to have a meet and greet with local Girl Scouts and volunteers. Media Girl Zella M. (that’s me!) had the opportunity to interview Girl Scouts’ top dog.
Media Girls: What’s your favorite animal?
Anna Maria Chàvez: I’m allergic to both cats and dogs. Kind of a bummer, right? I know, to my chagrin I had a cat my entire life, and now I know why I had such bad allergies! But my son, Michael Christopher, has been wanting a dog for five years. About three months ago, I lost a very dear friend—a member of our national board of directors passed away from pancreatic cancer, and I came home that night and I said, you know, life is too short. And I said to my son, “You can have a dog.” I think he didn’t believe me, because he kept asking me, “What did you say?” And within two weeks we had a Labradoodle in our house. His name is Cody; I call him Codylicious. He’s the cutest dog, I’m a little biased. I love dogs now.
MG: What was GS like when you were a kid? What has changed and what has stayed the same?
Chàvez: We have electricity now. [Laughs.] I lived in a very small farm town – this town is bigger than my town. We had a library and that was about it. There wasn't a lot to do with [other] girls, but there was one troop of Girl Scouts. … I had two pesky brothers, so anything outside the house without them was great. My troop took me camping for the first time, and camping, for me, was huge. I came from a family where I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without family. We really didn’t camp, because my family were migrant farmers so the dirt was what we did for work, so to think about going and camping in it, was like, “Why would we do that? We’re going backwards.” But Girl Scouts think about camping and the environment very differently. It taught me to think about what I could do, even at the age of 12, to change the world, and because of that … I decided to become a lawyer at the age of 12, which kind of changed my life.
I think what’s different is that you guys live in a digital world; growing up I didn’t have technology like that. But now, the world is your backyard. And that’s what’s changed. So Girl Scouts has to keep up with that, because now you’re global citizens.
MG: How does it feel to lead Girl Scouts after being in it as a child?
Chàvez:To have the honor of representing you, whether it’s in the Oval Office or in the Vatican meeting the Pope, is such a blessing, and for me it’s not only a mission, it is my way of giving back to this great country that gave my family so much. And we’ve got to keep this organization strong for another generation of girls.