Professor Kathleen Fitzsimmons joins USA Girl Scouts Overseas Task Force
Professor Kathleen Fitzsimmons, Program Director of Business Administration and Director of AUR’s Career Services and Internships Office, is a feminist at heart and a Girl Scout to the core – two of the reasons she’s been invited to help shape the future of USA Girl Scouts Overseas by joining an elite Task Force with the remit of reshaping the structure, accountabilities and scope of the new USA Girl Scouts Overseas Advisory Council.
USA Girl Scouts Overseas (USAGSO) brings Girl Scouts to the daughters of military, foreign service, and American expat families around the world and to girls in American or International schools. An operating unit of Girl Scouts of the USA, USAGSO ensures that no matter where American families move, they will have access to the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.
Originally known as Lone Troops on Foreign Soil, Girl Scouts’ Overseas program began in 1925 with a single troop of 18 girls in Shanghai, China. Today, USAGSO supports over 11,500 girl members and 5,000 volunteers in 97 countries around the world; membership is approximately 56% non-military and 44% Military.
Many USAGSO families relocate every 2-4 years; USA Girl Scouts Overseas provides a sense of security and stability as families transition to new locations. Through USA Girl Scouts Overseas, girls find an immediate support network and friendship group with whom they have something in common: The Girl Scout Leadership Experience.
Kathleen has been involved with the leadership of USA Girl Scouts since 2000. Starting as a volunteer Girl Scout Leader, a position she held for seven years, she took on the Chair of the USA Girl Scouts Overseas (USAGSO) Rome in 2008 and led this successfully until the end of tenure in 2011. During this time Kathleen increased both the membership and the profile of the Rome organization. In 2011, Kathleen was named to the National Council of USA Girl Scouts, the advisory body to the National Board of Directors of Girl Scouts USA, charged with leading the development of the USAGSO movement.
The latest development in Kathleen’s involvement with the Girl Scout movement plays to her key strengths; strategic development, organizational best-practice and institutional governance. The Board Transition Task Force will take the current USAGSO governance structure, developed in the 1950s, and review and revise it to be fit for the 21st century: An ever-changing environment (technology, military operations, expatriate trends, USAGSO membership), requires USAGSO to step back, rethink, and reshape their structure to better align with the national Movement and to best support membership growth now and into the future.
“I’m really excited about taking on this challenge” says Kathleen, “I’m a huge advocate for women in leadership – the world would be a much better place with more #smartchicks – and what better arena to make a contribution to the cause than through the Girl Scout movement. What does the Girl Scouts do better than almost anyone else? Develop leadership skills in girls. Every American female astronaut was a Girl Scout. 80% of the female leaders in our country were Girl Scouts. This is an unrivalled record and I am proud that my experience and skills can help ensure that the Girl Scouts continues to be a route through which young women can grow and develop”.
Kathleen practices what she preaches too – #smartchicks is her way of referring to the motivated, skilled and determined young women she nurtures through their AUR experience. “My new crop of #smartchicks are the leaders of the future” states Kathleen. “These young women are intelligent, erudite and ambitious. In just one of my classes I teach women from France, Japan, Jordan, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Burundi, Greece, the United States, Italy, Venezuela, Mexico and Ghana; the one thing they have in common (beyond AUR)? Their absolute determination to shape their lives as they want them, not as someone else has told them they should. These are 21st century #smartchicks and I am certain that the lessons I learn through my involvement in reshaping USAGSO will be passed on to them to help their ongoing development.”