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Podcast – Nancy Wright: Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Makes a Difference

Friday, July 22, 2022
Natalie Terchek
Podcast – Nancy Wright: Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Makes a Difference

This week at The One Thing Podcast by The Horton Group, our host, Jason Helfert, talks to our guest, Nancy Wright, CEO of Girl Scouts Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. For over 100 years, Girl Scouts has been helping girls explore new possibilities and the wonders of the world around them. Trusted adult volunteers, mentors, and millions of alums help girls build their courage, confidence, and character while teaching them how to make the world a better place.

“Adults are always saying that someone needs to do something about the world – and here are our girls, sending 700 backpacks to children in Ukraine,” Nancy said.

The Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana filled the backpacks with essentials and items that bring them joy – this included 40,000 boxes of their famous Girl Scout cookies.

In addition to helping those on a national level, the Girl Scouts impacted their community with various service projects, ranging from building a community garden to arranging training for older adults on how to protect themselves from financial scams. One of the Girl Scouts even created an app to help you see how safe different college campuses are (while she was college searching for herself, she was shocked to see there were no resources to tell you how many sexual assaults occurred on each campus).

“We help these girls raise their voice so they can speak to people about whatever is in their hearts and allow them to show up as their authentic selves,” Nancy said. “When you invest in the girls, you change the world.”

Listen to our podcast above for the full interview with Nancy Wright and learn more about how Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana has been building up girls and helping them make a difference.


Hello, and welcome to The One Thing podcast brought to you by the Horton Group. The Horton Group is specialized in Insurance employee benefits and risk advisory, and I’m your host and Jason Helfert. We all know. Oh, this next organization, not only for the wonderful work they do in the communities, but for the Fantastic cookies, we buy each year. That’s right. We’ve got the Girl Scouts and I’m excited to introduce a good friend of mine. CEO of Girl Scouts for Greater Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, Nancy Wright. How are you doing my friend? Oh, fantastic. Jason because I get to spend the afternoon with you, okay? Well, thank you. You must want something. When a we appreciate you coming on. And And we’re super excited for this podcast. I know the audience would be excited to hear more about you and more about the, the Girl Scouts and so Nance, and 1912 New Mexico and Arizona are admitted as a 47 and 48 states Fenway Park. Opens its doors to the Boston Red Sox, Woodrow Wilson, is named president United States and the Girl Scouts are founded by Juliette Gordon low. So if she was around today and ants, what do you think she would say about the Girl Scouts and the The progress that has taken place since 1912 first. She would be very proud of the evolution of Girl Scouts and how it continues to morph and change, based on what the needs are of the girls for Juliette Gordon low. It’s always been about giving opportunities for girls wherever they see themselves and whatever they want to be and helping them raise their voice. So they can speak to people about whatever is important to them. Whatever is in their heart and teaching them that they can show up as their authentic self. So she would be really proud because it’s a complicated world. The girls are living in right now Jason and so they’re getting challenged in new and different ways. Yeah I don’t doubt that I think we’re going to we’re going to jump in. As you know I have three daughters and so helping you know trying to do be the best dad I can for three girls is as tough. As I think they are facing a lot of different challenges, some some new challenges some that are existing And, you know, I’m very thankful for, you know, the mission of the Girl Scouts and speaking of of the mission you shared with me and I love this and that the mission of the Girl Scouts is as follows is that the Girl Scouts Bill girls of Courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. And I don’t know of a better much better Mission than that. It’s pretty phenomenal. And then you shared in a LinkedIn post and answers, or last week, or the week prior about The Girl Scouts are trying to make an impact on Ukraine because while it’s going on in Ukraine, in the Russian conflict and if you can and maybe not everybody knows about what you’re looking to do in Ukraine. But share a little bit about them. I think just as important in addition to, you know, what other things are the Girl Scouts doing to give back to the community to make the community a better place. Well thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak about our work at Ukraine. This has been really important for all of us at the council. We packed 700 backpacks to be sent over to Ukraine, filled with all kinds of wonderful things for the young people. So when they receive them that they have some Essentials, but also some things to bring them joy in their heart. In addition, we sent over almost 40,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies that are being shipped over for
people to just share and maybe add again a little bit of joy to their lives. We know those Girl Scout cookies are delicious and they always make people smile. But you know, knows back to your question about service. Service is one of our pillars and it’s important for us to make the world a better place. And you know, what’s been amazing for me to watch. It’s even throughout covid. And even in these very challenging times Girl Scouts are finding a way forward. I often hear adults, say to me You know, somebody needs to do something about that in the world, somebody needs to fix that and here are girls sending 700 backpacks to Ukraine.
And it’s been a remarkable experience. Not only uplifting
the girls that are working on that but they’re working with their volunteers and adults which is really a cooled multi-generational experiencer sure, I love it, I love it, I don’t know based on what you just shared it sounds like it was an idea formed by the Girl Scouts and I how many times in your job right? Or even being a parent. Oh, I wish somebody would just do that. Oh, you know, we should just do that. And I’m just like
They look around. And so, I think what this is teaching people, yes, it’s wildly important to give back, right? But it’s also, if you’re teaching them initiative and Leadership and I think that’s a pretty cool, a pretty cool thing. And so, in addition to the Nancy support the girls, providing to Ukraine, what are some of the other examples of how the girls are helping local communities and really things that what’s like? So, what’s the one thing? A couple things that you want people to know that outside of correct, like the cookies, which are one Your fault. People, love them. What else? Well, we have three different types of highest Awards in Girl Scouts. There’s the bronze silver and gold award and the bronze and silver award are where troops or large groups of girls. They could be service units, which means there’s multiple troops that come together, and they look around their community and say, we need to do this. This may be creating a garden in an area where other people can enjoy. It may be doing a different service project that will help them earn their gold, their silver or the runs aboard, and it’s a team effort, but that’s really building that muscle of identifying a problem thinking through a solution and then activating and the highest award is a Gold Award and that’s an individual award that the girls do and it’s the highest award in girl scouting. And I just want to give you a couple examples of how girls are again, seeing a Issue and making a difference. Yes. Your I’ll give you a couple examples that one girl noticed that adults were getting scammed, older adults are getting scammed by technology and all that was important to teach older adults about technology or people asking them for money over the Internet Etc. She did a whole training for older adults within her community because she had heard about somebody that had lost some money as an older adult and was scammed, have another girl? All three years ago that it’s one of my favorite. Her name is Therese. She’s now a engineering student at Purdue. She had a friend that had been sexually assaulted in high school and as tragic as that was, she understood the importance of making something different for the world, moving forward. And so she was looking at schools within the state of Illinois. She started looking through. How do I know I’m going to a safe University or a college but there. Commercial data and no ways to find out the safety on a college campus. So she created an App, she created an app that you can now Google and understand what assaults have happened on campus. How safe is at Oregon? How safe is that campus for all people? And she’s working to continue to elevate that in a broader format geographic area across the country by by working with other organizations to help support that. Wow. And that’s a huge project, huge project. Yeah. You know, and the unfortunate situation that happened that was some of the you know the motivation for doing it but she took that and so there’s an issue, a huge issue. Huge problem created awareness, right? Created more information solved a huge problem and that was taking this an expanding and I think that’s that’s pretty cool. And she worked with the Illinois Coalition and sexual assault. To make this happen, she sought this out and this All during covid, when people were locked down, she made this project happen. Keep her name, Andy, when you’re looking for the next leader, the girls gave God. Thanks you. She’s somebody keep an eye on and you mentioned Nancy that, I mean, a smile. When I say covid it wasn’t intentional but you mentioned covid and covid was and continues to be a challenge for many reasons and it seems like not a day goes by that a friend or family member or a co-worker shares a story. Worried about how their kids are struggling with mental health issues, you know, coming out of pandemic and a lot of isolation. We’ve talked about on this podcast before kids. A lot of isolation things are not the same, is that our house is there an outlet to get help and they feel alone. And and I know I’ve been seeing this and experience with. So my kids to in our, in our neighbors and have you been seeing that? Have the Girl Scouts been seeing this or been witness to this and if you have have you had to change or have you taken the opportunity? And you know, your programs are Service delivery. I mean, if this girl scouts changed or responded to this in a way you want the community to know about, Yes, thank you for asking for that such an important topic. These days, we actually Jason started seeing changes in girls mental well-being before covid. So you can imagine what we’ve seen since covid. But before covid, I happened to be out on some panels talking to a variety of different adult groups and I started picking up on a theme of girls. Self-harm very
sad. When I went in to talk to a potential donor with sharing with him, some of the work we were doing around girls, not feeling good enough. It’s the good at not feeling, you know, enough? Not feeling smart enough than enough bright enough and it was really a roading, their self-esteem. And what I said to the stoner, I feel that I’m the CEO for the Girl Scouts, but I really feel like I’m providing CPR for the soul of a girl. Because when I looked at what was why these girls were as
a tragic and very tragic of taking their lives, you know, the worst thing about this is a person that I was speaking of in this particular instance was a girl that was 12 years old at her life and I thought to myself what a girl. 12 years old is taking her life when it’s wrong with this. What is she lacking? And there were three things that the girl was missing in her Life. It was Community people and ecosystem that supports her through whether she, whether she succeeds or whether she fails, it was feeling that there wasn’t a lot of hope that they didn’t have purpose. And what we know we just talked about in Girl Scouts, they have this community that is troop or these adults that are helping them and they have purpose because they go make a difference in somebody’s life and that warms their heart. And then we also have this community that helps them build resilience, they fail and then they can be supported through that process and then covid hits their isolated. They lose their ecosystem and you know what? So did the parents we’re talking with parents and asking how their child is being, how their daughter is doing. They will say to me, you know what, I’m barely putting one foot in front of the other. So it’s not only the girl. It’s the parents that are really struggling so we are really focused on. We’ve created a partnership started five and a half six years ago, pre covid, with the lorries Center of childhood resilience and all our staff is trauma-informed trained to support girls through all the different emotional, ups and downs, and all the complications, they’re facing in the world and it has been a gift to us to really be able to support, not only our girls, but the families and the communities.
Yeah, that’s it’s interesting. You sure the parental aspect and I was in the car with my friend the other day and he has a friend of us some mental health, I mean, it’s our friend upstairs me a child with some mental health challenges and were talking about and that’s how you doing and how is your wife doing him? He’s like, you know what, some days we try to survive. Hmm. You know and that’s like really like well it just kind of hit me. Like you’re just trying to survive, right? And I think that’s why Programs like this and your partnership with Lori’s and Trauma train. I think I don’t even know how you not that, you have to, but how you measure the impact. I think it’s like in measurable and I mean it’s the impact going to have on these girls. You know, it’s in a totally. Yes. Makes sense. You can see it. You could you could feel it but I don’t know of anything more important right now than that. Yeah, it you know, it’s been interesting because as we’ve been going through this process, our goal is to prevent,
you know Oh Tragedy and have a safe space for girls. And we had the privilege of speaking at the Illinois House,
safety and prevention about all the violence that’s happening as well as the all the trauma. And you know what we said is that when we get talking to parents is as we went into isolation, they lost their infrastructure, their formal and informal structure, their houses of worship stop. Meeting their school stopped meeting and what we became, was this sounding board for a lot of families. And we found that a lot of people went through changes, they’re working remotely many people want through divorces or separations. They lost their jobs or they moved. And then, when they are trying to support their daughter, if she was having mental health issues, they didn’t even know where to go. So we behave. I’m that link to bring resources to them, and to the families on some basic needs, oftentimes, as well as mental Wellness. We now have a whole approach to not only, you know, you think about Girl Scouts. We always did first aid training and CPR. We now do psychological first aid training because it’s such an important aspect of our lives and will be for a long time. Yeah, it’s long time. It. Yeah. And I’m glad You all for doing that. Eddie Goodman from JCC was sharing on here. The pot, he asked about a month ago, some other the, the same narrative are sharing these kiddos, boys and girls have lost their Community. They lost it. It was gone and the parents the same way. And so we’ve kind of forget about that too. And,
you know, it’s interesting we work with a lot of agencies and I’m always, admired the Ingenuity and the creative ways in which they find Solutions, agent is not proper. What’s fascinating to me is we have an agency. A partner to that. Now is providing the psychological coaching or help to the police department. And so you go into a home where there’s a potential Behavior with individual with disabilities or mental health challenges, they will accompany the police officer to help deescalate and things like that. That didn’t exist. Probably what they did. I didn’t know about him 15 years ago and I think this, that’s why I applaud the nonprofit Community for being just thoughtful and mindful and salt, problem solvers. I mean, your two girls are the three examples of the girls use, they hit. They saw problem. Like we’re going to fix this. You’re gonna we’re gonna do it. I’m not gonna wait for anybody. Yeah, I got it and I love it. No, no, here’s here’s one thing. I encourage all the listeners to do is the girls want to be seen and heard we all want to be seen and heard when’s the last time you actually sat down and asked a girl what does it feel like or your or your son or daughter or a youth person is what does it feel like to be a girl growing up in today’s world? And really listen because I think sometimes we’re so far ahead, just going one to your back to your friend who said I’m just putting one foot in front of the other trying to survive. One of we sat down and listened to what they’re facing. Yeah, they’re facing a lot right now. Yeah, but here’s the here’s the upside Jason I listen sometimes to the news and I see what’s happening in the world and it can be sometimes, pretty discouraging, but all I have to do is get my girl fix, and go spend time with girls. I love it. They are so optimistic. There’s brilliant and they are have this can-do attitude. Like, you know what? I’m going to fix this and what was me. Hope gives me hope that our future, that’s all we need. That’s really neat. And I I’m sure they’ll keep getting that nudge from YouTube. That’s how you are and I have known you for a while. And I know that you are very passionate and Mission driven person. I admire the heck idea for that, and I also know that irregardless of how talented individual is are driven. There’s things that will get in your way roadblocks temporary or permanent. I don’t know the answer. But if you look at this, okay, I Nancy right? As CEO of Girl Scouts Chicagoland. Northwest Indiana. Got my goals, my objectives, my mission. What’s going to get in your way. We need adults, we need adults that want to make a difference in a girl’s life. And I will say to you, I just did a keynote about three weeks ago, and I asked people to write down what makes them happy. Write down all the things that make them happy in 30 seconds. And that they love that they love and they wrote all these things down and then I asked him you know friends family work, only a quarter of the people in that audience, raised their hand about work that they love. I, I love my job every single day and I and we and in the keynote, I talked about the difference between success and significance.
Because the success, you know, our friend Bob said to me successes you’re on this wheel you’re always looking for the next deal and but the next deal doesn’t make you happy. It’s when you find meaning in your life looking for that significance. And so people are searching for greater meaning coming out of covid. They had a lot of time to sit and think and do. What is my, what am I here for? What do I want to do with my life? Sure, invest in the girl and change the world. Because when you spend time with a girl, You will be filled up but you know what, she will learn from you and you will learn from her. And we need volunteers, we need people to invest in the next generation of girls and boys. Sure. So and so, if someone is looking to volunteer their time or getting involved with a girl scouts, what were they need to do, they just need to contact us cause, you know, they just need your answer here. We will, we will get you involved and I guarantee you you will leave with a smile on your face. What are some of the things that Volunteers could do to help out. Well, we have all kinds of opportunities. We have opportunities that they want to be a troop leader, which is something people think about all the time that the traditional troop model. But there are other ways that they can volunteer to some people who are experts in financial literacy or they like stem and they have careers. We do okay, all kinds of badges around that those types of activities activities, we have a program called Camp CEO, where you can come and Mentor a girl for several days. I Camp and then they have somebody that can you know, support them moving forward, as they go through all ages and all stages of their life. And you know, some people say, you know, I want to give it back in communities where there is less access and that I can support those under-resourced communities and we have lots of opportunities there. We’re working on several projects right now. Within communities that really need
young people need, we always say you can’t be what you can’t see. They need role models. Come be a role model. Well, from your mouse to everybody’s ears. If you’re looking to volunteer for the Girl Scouts, there are numerous ways in which you could do. So so invest in the girls and change the world, I love that, and I hope that we could all invest a little more in our children’s future, like Nancy does. So Nancy’s, you’ve been a wonderful, wonderful guest I applaud you and thank you for spending some time with us this afternoon. Well thank you Jason. Well until next time, on behalf of the Horton Group, thank you for joining. the one thing podcast,

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