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Profiles in Civic Leadership: Local, State, and National


Girl Scouts learn leadership and how they can change the world for the better through their community service projects and earning the High Awards. As adults, former Girl Scouts are much more likely to be engaged in their communities and in the democratic process.

This year, a number of Arizona women, all former Girl Scouts, took on big new roles. We are focusing on three of them.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego

When Kate Gallego was sworn in as Phoenix’s 61st mayor in March, she was only the second female elected Mayor in Phoenix history. In her inaugural address, she pointed out her differences from the mayors who lead the 10 largest U.S. cities. Besides being the youngest mayor, she was also “the only one who sold Girl Scout Cookies to support her troop.” This statement generated delighted applause from the audience.

Mayor Gallego served five years as City Councilwoman for District 8, a large district covering much of South Phoenix, prior to being elected mayor. The Parsons Leadership Center is in this district. She spoke at our groundbreaking ceremony in March 2015 and said, “I was a Girl Scout. Girl Scout camp was one of my first wilderness experiences, and it put me on the path to study Environmental Studies as an undergraduate. And I sold Girl Scout Cookies. That taught me a lot, too. And let me tell you, that ability to go door-to-door was an important factor in me winning the election.”

The Mayor’s function is similar to a Governor’s function in a state. The Mayor is the Chief Executive Officer of the city and acts as the city’s spokesperson. She runs City Council meetings and works with the Council to set policy.

Currently, of the 1,366 mayors of cities with a population over 30,000, just 22% of them are women.

Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee

Kimberly Yee, the first Asian-American elected to a statewide office, was sworn in as the 45th State Treasurer in January. She is only the second woman to be elected to this office. Kimberly served in the Arizona House of Representatives for two years and the Arizona Senate for six. She also served as Senate Majority Leader, the second woman to hold this position – the first being former U.S. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Treasurer Yee was also a Girl Scout in our council. She credits selling Girl Scout Cookies door-to-door in her neighborhood as the perfect training ground to prepare her for grassroots campaigning. “Very few people are comfortable doing a “cold call” knock on a neighbor’s door and being able to start up conversations, but as a former Brownie and Girl Scout, we were trained to do that every year when we sold our boxes of cookies,” she said.

During our 100th anniversary in 2012, she wrote legislation that marks March 12 as Girl Scouts of the USA Day in Arizona. That same year she founded Troop 1920, a troop of elected women in the Arizona State Legislature. In 2014, Kimberly sponsored the bill allowing Girl Scouts to have a special vehicle license plate.

The state treasurer is Arizona’s chief banker and investment officer, stewarding the cash management of Arizona’s $40 billion state budget and related payments. Treasurer Yee has continued to partner with Arizona Girl Scouts on the importance of financial literacy.

Forty-eight of the 50 states have a treasurer’s office. In 2019, only 23% are women.

Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett

Barbara Barrett’s appointment to be the Secretary of the Air Force is another powerful position in her already accomplished career as a businesswoman, lawyer, diplomat, educator, pilot, and astronaut.

Secretary Barrett was a Girl Scout while growing up in Pennsylvania and valued her experiences. “Through Girl Scouts, I had the opportunity to demonstrate leadership skills, meet new friends, and explore new areas,” she explained. “Girl Scouts is learning about the great outdoors and camping and also how to get along with other girls, how to work and build things, how to build a better community.”

She came to Arizona to study at ASU and earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees. Over the years, Barbara has continued supporting Girl Scouts, including a major gift to help fund The Parsons Leadership Center.

As Secretary of the Air Force, Barbara will head the Department of the Air Force with authority to conduct all its affairs, including administrative, financial, and legislative, and report to the Secretary of Defense. The Secretary of the Air Force is responsible for leading the 685,000 uniformed and civilian men and women of the Air Force.

She will become the 25th Secretary of the Air Force and only the fourth woman to hold this post since 1947 when the U.S. Air Force became a distinct element in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Girl Scout alum make change happen – and in Arizona change is happening now! We’re so honored to have these amazing women to continue inspiring girls to reach for the stars.