|Photos: Lieba Nesis|
The dinner for the Girl Scouts was held at Cipriani 42nd Street, one of the most elegant venues in Manhattan. The Girl Scouts is a pivotal organization serving more than 29,000 girls annually, and helping to give these bright lights the "confidence, courage and character" to lead productive lives. Seventy percent of the girls come from low to moderate income families and the Scouts gives them a chance to expand their horizons and think outside their box.
The evening began with a cocktail reception and red carpet where all the beautiful young girls in their Scout uniforms were able to pose and smile for the photographers like real life celebrities. The self esteem imparted to these girls was evident in the joy on their faces and the dignity with which they carried themselves. At the conclusion of cocktails the dinner began with a welcome speech given by two "Troopers" Kailey and Alyssa; these young girls conducted themselves with such poise and maturity it was hard to believe they were not sent to finishing school.
The CEO, Barbara Warrington, then spoke of the importance of the Scouts in helping all girls realize their possibilities, and then introduced Denisha Thiaw a remarkable young woman. Denisha grew up in the South Bronx with a strong hardworking mother constantly encouraging her to pursue her dreams, and possessed a love for fashion and art from an early age. Denisha recalled being surrounded by negativism and despair in her neighborhood but under the Scout leadership program she learned to change her mindset to one of positivity and hope. The program helped her score an internship at Eileen Fisher which changed her life and career trajectory. Denisha, will be attending College in the fall and from the Scouts she learned "you can do anything you want." Denisha's mother stood up to receive enthusiastic applause from the audience and I found myself tearing up at this emotional moment.
The Scouts numerous programs help girls choose career paths that they ordinarily avoid. The STEM program, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math which teaches Robotics to girls from ages 5-17 provides hands-on experience and group challenges in an environment that fosters creativity and perseverance. Adele Gulfo, one of the night's honorees and the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Mylan, a pharmaceutical company with 22,000 employees, spoke of the need to encourage women to pursue careers in science. She noted that girls and boys are equally interested in science while attending Middle School however, when it comes time to choose a career men far outweigh women in the fields of science and math.
|Honoree and executive vice president of Marketing |
for the NBA, Amy Brooks
Reiterating this sentiment was Amy Brooks, another honoree who is Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the NBA, who spoke of the importance for girls to think into the future. The last honoree, Davia Temin, the CEO of a global marketing company, noted that the world was getting "a little bit meaner" with the advent of social media often being utilized for cyber bullying. She called on the female audience to inspire girls with compassion, kindness and respect to remedy the "soul killing" effects of this conflict.
The extent to which women are shaping and beautifying society was manifested by the significant contributions of the evening's illustrious honorees. The gala chair, Jennifer Lee, Managing Director of Private Banking for Wells Fargo, stated that this year's dinner attendance was 30% over last year and raised more than 586,000 dollars. A live auction was then held with the first item sold being a glass of milk and some Scout cookies for the paltry sum of $1500.
Leicha Richardson, a personal assistant to famed makeup artist Trish McEvoy, who was closely watching the auction in her fashion forward color blocked gown told me that McEvoy hosts these girls at her offices and teaches them the 8 steps of putting on makeup and how to succeed as an entrepreneur. However, McEvoy mostly teaches them that beauty is inside out and reflected by how you treat others.
When I left this wonderful event my mother recalled how important the Girl Scouts was for her as an insecure young teenager from a small town in New Jersey, in instilling a feeling of self-assurance and hope for the future. The extraordinary ability of this organization to help underprivileged girls through so many different eras and time periods is a remarkable achievement that should never be taken for granted.
- Lieba Nesis