2021 is here! And with it hope, opportunity and new Girl Scout heights of achievement for us together to climb. I have visited many cities in my military career and the one that keeps coming to my mind as I plan for 2021 is Big Dallas…on two counts.
First, in the center of town is Pioneer Plaza—it contains a beautiful Texas-sized sculpture of two cowboys on a cattle drive steering their longhorns safely across a stream. It sits in the middle of modern skyscrapers. What resonates with me this challenged year is the view of the bronze cowboy hunched on his horse looking to the distance scouting for danger for those who leads. He is looking right at the tallest skyscraper in Dallas and I think the juxtaposition of yesterday and the future is so apropos for us today. He is firmly in the saddle of “his day” but the way the statue is positioned he looks for time immemorial to the future…he looks up to a rising modern society, sleek, and a very lofty future.
My second reflection of Dallas is my visits to the Texas Book Repository which honors President Kennedy, who was tragically slain as his motorcade roared past that location in 1963. The museum does an admirable job honoring the nobility and optimism of the 35th President. On an earlier Texas trip in 1962, President Kennedy implored NASA to get the United States to the moon before the Soviet Union did. His epic speech “We choose to go the Moon” is one I committed to philosophy-wise on how to live life: “But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the Moon...We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.”
Taken together, the cowboy looking to the future, and choosing to go to the moon are the themes I embrace as our Council looks at a brand new year. It was a tortured trail ride for all of Girl Scouts last year but our Council moved forward with grace and grit. No doubt. We never took our eyes off the future. We never looked down. We always looked up and that is why I submit our Girl Scouts weathered the most difficult cookie sale in our 97 year Council history. So, as 2021 is here, we chose this hopeful year to go to the moon or more specifically we will reach for the STEM stars! In my first year as CEO, I emphasized it being the Year of the Volunteer knowing the volunteer made our Council so special. The second year, I focused on the Girl Scout, our whole purpose, our mission. My third year, we will bring the year of STEM to reality. The STEM Mobile, a three year dream, is ready to launch this spring assuming health conditions will allow it. We will lead a virtual STEM Expo in April in conjunction with four other Councils. And with grant money provided by AT&T, we are going to put together a Maker Space. A room we will call the Imagination Room. For us to go to the moon or the STEM stars as a council, we will unleash the power of the Girl imagination. With two STEM dedicated staff members, we hope to infuse quality STEM experiences into all our camps as well.
I said on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019: “This is one small step for a Girl, this is one Giant step for the sisterhood.” We took a few small steps forward over the past two years. Despite the challenges of our trail ride the last year, I do look to the future with confidence and hope. This Council deserves all our staff can deliver for the grace and grit our volunteers and Girls showed in a tough 2020. Did I mention at night that the iconic Dallas skyscraper is outlined in green…that is our color! 2021 is ours as we do look to the future! We will reach for the STEM stars…why, because it is hard and we are Girl Scouts!