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Girl Scout council gets new CEO

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Julia Vail

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Sally Daley, former executive vice president of the Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council, took over as its CEO Sept. 6.

Though Daley is new to the position, she is well-versed in the operations and mission of the Girl Scouts, having been a member for 28 years.

In her seven years working for the Hornets’ Nest Council, which serves more than 15,000 girls in eight counties in the Carolinas, Daley has had the opportunity to “wear many different hats.”

It’s a description that could be taken literally. Daley keeps five different outfits in her car at all times for the different meetings and events she has to attend, she says.

“I was really getting to know how the council functioned as a whole,” she says.

A computer science graduate of Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, Daley returned to the Girl Scouts after spending 12 years in the technology division of Wachovia Bank.

A series of mergers brought Daley to Charlotte in 1999. Though she says she was initially wary about moving away from her rural Pennsylvania home, the Charlotte weather eventually won her over.

“I love the idea that you can be outdoors year-round,” she says. “I also think it’s a growing city and it’s very culturally diverse.”

In 2002, she decided to retire from corporate America and return to the Girl Scouts, in which she had been active as a girl.

“My mother was my troop leader when I was younger,” Daley says. “It created not only a special bond for us, but it tests your skills in so many different aspects.”

The Girl-Scout tradition did not end with Daley. Her 16-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, is a year away from receiving her Gold Award, Girl Scouts’ highest honor for girls ages 14 to 18.

Daley has been able use her previous experience to improve the day-to-day operations of the council. Drawing on her computer-science background, she served as project manager for Girls Are IT, a program designed to get girls interested and involved in information technology.

“I had a very successful career in technology and I wanted other girls to have the opportunities I had,” Daley says.  

In a used school bus remodeled as a “mobile technology classroom,” girls received training in nanotechnology, wireless sensors and the computer language of HTML. Almost all of the girls left the program with a positive attitude toward technology, Daley says.

“Girls aren’t technophobic; they just use technology differently than boys,” Daley says. “If we could show girls how technology helps people, it might incent them to pursue technology careers.”

Daley was also responsible for increasing retail sales by nearly 50 percent in two and a half years, saving the Girl Scout store from being closed down.

“We had been moving away from making it fun and attractive for the girls,” Daley says. “I brought some girls in as consultants to ask them what was cool for the younger generation.”

Daley has been executive vice president of the council for the last year. As CEO, she will play an even bigger role in addressing the recent challenges faced by the Girl Scouts.

The national organization began consolidating councils two years ago through its realignment program, designed to make enrollment more uniform throughout the country. The Hornets’ Nest Council plans to merge with four other councils in western North Carolina by 2010.

“Our goal in doing this is to be able to reinvest more resources into serving the girls and volunteers locally,” Daley says.

The council is also working to turn a recently-purchased plot of land in Iredell County into a new campground and dining hall.  

All of Daley’s initiatives are steps toward her main goal: building girls’ love of technology and the outdoors.

“Those are my two passions, and Girl Scouts is still very committed to building strong girls through those two pathways,” Daley says.   

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