A lifelong Girl Scout, former troop leader, and top cookie seller, Judith made history last month when she was announced as the first Black woman to assume the chief executive role. Judith is a true trailblazer—she spent three decades as senior counsel and executive to a Fortune 100 company, the first woman and first Black person to serve as general counsel to one of the corporation’s overseas affiliates.
Judith is the daughter of a Girl Scout and troop leader, and she credits Girl Scouts with sparking her curiosity about the world around her and giving her the opportunity to explore her adventurous side and discover her leadership potential.
Growing up, Judith and her mom were active with her local Girl Scout council, and the family regularly hosted Girl Guides from all over the world at their home when they came to the US. It was meeting and interacting with these girls over the years that sparked her lifelong interest in travel. In fact, she has visited over 40 countries! Over the past year, before the arrival of COVID-19, she journeyed to Puerto Rico, Morocco, Cuba, Italy, and Japan.
“I like to travel to places that are a little bit off the beaten path, and I think I got that from Girl Scouts,” Judith says. Girl Scouts also helped her build her confidence. “You get to try new things, you learn to speak up and use your voice, and you are encouraged to make your own decisions. Through Girl Scouts I was able to turn my natural curiosity into confidence.”
Judith’s Girl Scout journey has been ongoing. As a Girl Scout Senior, she was a part of the first girl delegation to Girl Scouts’ National Council Session in 1975, one of 100 girls from across the country chosen to represent their councils at the triennial national gathering where Girl Scouts assemble to chart the Girl Scout Movement’s path forward for the next three years. She worked at a Girl Scout camp as a cook and bookkeeper during college, and after graduating from law school, she was the co-leader of a Junior troop in Washington, DC for two years. She has also served on GSUSA’s National Board for the past six years.
In a time when girls across the country are facing unprecedented challenges, Judith believes strongly that Girl Scouts’ mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place is more important than ever.
“Girl Scouts is a safe haven in all the chaos,” Judith continues. “It’s a place where girls can still be girls—they can have fun, be with their friends, explore, be active, discover new passions, and learn. Girl Scouts creates leaders—and clearly, we need more women leaders! We help girls learn, thrive, and be the best that they can be.”
In light of the unrest that has erupted in reaction to the ever-present violence being committed against Black people, including the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others—as well as the increased awareness among Americans more broadly of the systemic racism that exists in our country—Judith is also committed to ensuring that Girl Scouts is an actively anti-racist organization.
“We have a systemic racism problem in the US, and Girl Scouts needs to make sure we are countering it—that we are welcoming and inclusive. It’s one thing to say a girl is welcome, but it’s another thing for that girl to feel she’s welcome.”
Judith is also a strong believer in the need for diversity in American leadership, across all sectors. “If you are only listening to those who are similar to you, you’re not necessarily making the best decisions, whether it’s a corporate setting or a social setting, or even selling a product or service,” she says. “Women think differently than men, and we approach problems differently. We might come to the same conclusion, but just going through that thought process is important, both sides listening to each other. A lot of times you come to a better decision because you’ve considered more possibilities.”
And she has some great advice for girls on how to stay resilient through such uncertain times. “There’s no doubt that things are incredibly difficult right now, but it’s important to remember that nothing is ever static. Circumstances change and evolve, and if you have confidence in yourself and your abilities, you can seize opportunities that arise. You don’t necessarily have to know where you’re going, and if you fail, that’s good! Figure out why you failed, pick yourself up, and learn from the failure. Failures bring lessons just like successes do—they are just part of the journey.”
We’re excited to welcome Judith and congratulate her on her new role! We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our great Girl Scout Movement under your leadership.
Since 1912, we’ve built girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.
Source: Say hello to Girl Scouts of the USA’s new interim CEO Judith Batty!