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Cynthia Breunig and Girl Scouts of America

Cynthia Breunig and Girl Scouts of America

In the sixth episode of Arabella Advisors’ podcast series, Arabella Managing Director, Sharyn Church, spoke to Cynthia Breunig, President and CEO of Girl Scouts of San GorgonioThe two share a deep friendship, love of art and service, and insights based on decades of working with women, girls (and Girl Scouts!) to transform communities and lives. Here are some soundbites from their conversation: 

  • [My father was in the military for 40 years, and we moved around as I grew up]. Not only moved a lot but moved coast to coast a lot. I moved 24 times before I graduated High School. […] We would be in San Francisco and Long Beach and all the Western ports; then we would be back in Virginia and South CarolinaWe were flipping between California, which had integrated their schools in 1947, and the Jim Crowe south. And the contrast was extreme. 
  • For the first time I was seeing separate water fountains, beaches, and restrooms; and all that goes along with that. […] I wound up at Stratford Junior High, which was the first integrated middle school in the south. It was historic and right outside of DC. 
  • Because I moved around a lot as a kid, one of the through pieces for me was being in Girl Scout troops, I was in several. Wherever we went I had friendstraditions, and shared memories. But in Girl Scouts, the troop leaders can look at the unique potential and passions that each child has. I had troop leaders who looked at me and realized that I loved art. It was not just drawing and painting but absorbing it and loving it in my deepest soul. And it was those leaders who took me to my first art museum; and gave me my first exposure and experience. That set me on the course to be a museum executive for decades and do all sorts of wonderful things. 
  • For almost 110 years, we have been working on empowering girls and women. […] We know that 80% of our tech leaders were Girl Scouts. All of our female Secretaries of State have been Girl Scouts. 60% of our political leaders were Girl Scouts. Any field you look at, whether it is education, medicine, or more, you will see a predominance of Girl Scouts.” 
  • “People are always so focused on the cookies, however, that actually is the underpinnings of a lot of what we do; and I am not just talking about the finances or the money that generates. I am talking about the lessons the girls learned, and what I learned. I was essentially running my own business. I was setting goals for myself, and they still do this with the girls. I was doing projections and learning business ethics and financial literacy. And they learn resiliency. They are told no on sales over and over again, and have to learn to turn that into a yes, while keeping their spirit strong.”  
  • Gen Z [, the kids born after 1995,] is the most racially and ethnically diverse of any other generation that we have seen in America. They are on track to be the best educated generation that we’ve seen; and they are more comfortable using gender neutral pronouns. All of that has a lot of impact. They are so much more politically involved and are pushing back against injustice in a way that gives me hope. They are raising their voices. I believe we will see more of them entering the non-profit sector. 
  • My heart was in service to others. And so I was looking [for those opportunities]. And I think that is good, that you stand-up and show-up. […] You also need to course correct, as you are composing your life, as you get to know yourself better. You know that you have an impulse to do something bigger than your own life. But what is that? What suits you? And what will illuminate and utilize your own skills.”  

To hear more about Cynthia and her advice for young women and growing professionals, listen to her full conversation with Sharyn here.   


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