Sandra “Sam” Tysver plans to retire in June 2013 as CEO of Girl Scouts of Gateway Council Inc., which serves more than 13,000 girls and more than 5,000 adults in 16 North Florida counties.
What prompted your decision to retire next year?
The council will have just celebrated the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts and will wrap up a strategic goal cycle next year. A number of important operational initiatives will be coming to an end. It seemed like a good time to transition council leadership.
The Girl Scouts organization is recognizing 100 years of existence. To what do you attribute its longevity?
First, the vision of an amazing woman, Juliette Gordon Low, who understood the importance of developing leadership skills in girls, at a time when women couldn’t vote, and, secondly, our ability to change and evolve in order to meet the changing needs of girls without ever losing track of our core mission and values.
What are some of the major changes in the organization since you joined (and when did you join)?
I started as an adult in Girl Scouting in 1973 and have been at the Gateway Council since 1994. There have been significant changes both at the national and local levels. Here, we transitioned Camp Chowenwaw to Clay County, where it is now a park, and we purchased property to develop the North Fork Leadership Center for current and future Girl Scouts and for the community. Our membership extends into every ZIP code in our 16-county area and we are delivering Girl Scouting through traditional troops and other programs to ensure any girl that wants to participate has that opportunity.
What do you see as the group’s primary challenge in 2012 and beyond?
As with any nonprofit, funding is always an issue. We have a long history and a proven track record and we have the iconic Girl Scout cookie sale. We have always been good stewards of our community resources. Our ability to serve girls is absolutely dependent on community support.
Any new Girl Scout badges on the horizon?
We have just gone through a major program update, so we have many new badges and awards for girls to earn, reflecting our commitment to meet the changing needs of girls. But Girl Scouts is not about the badges earned; it’s about the lessons learned, the friendships built and leadership developed.