Through the years, the Girl Scouts of America has had many exemplary black women among their membership ranks who have learned courage, confidence, leadership, and civic responsibility and taken those skills to the achieve success at the top of their industries. From science to entertainment to media to politics to sports, the impact is undeniable: Jackie Joyner Kersee, Queen Latifah, Condoleezza Rice, Venus Williams, Keke Palmer, Tatyanna Ali, Mariah Carey, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Jacqueline Joyner-Kersee, Marian Anderson, Glenda Hatchett … the list goes on and on.
Check out more on the history of the organization as well as seven top business leaders who turned Girl Scouts badge earning into industry bankability. —Janell Hazelwood
When the Girl Scouts of America was initially founded in March 1912, there was no African American inclusion, but the organization has always been one to teach universal skills that could help advance all girls and women. Just as strides were made nationwide on inclusion and racial equality, the Girls Scouts would have a groundbreaking moment when the first black troupe was founded in 1917.
Gloria D. Scott Ph.D was the first African-American to get a degree in zoology from Indiana University in 1959, and made history again in 1975 by becoming the first black woman as national president of the Girl Scouts. She’d go on to become president of Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., where she served from 1987 to 2001.
Tennis superstar and entrepreneur Venus Williams has so many high points under her belt in sports, including being the first African American woman to achieve the World No. 1 in the open era; champion in women’s doubles at the French Open; 21 Grand Slam titles; and three Olympic gold medals. She also serves as CEO of interior design firm V Starr Interiors, fashion line, EleVen, and part-owner of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
Connie Lindsey is not only the current national president of Girl Scouts, but is also the executive vice president at Northern Trust, a leading wealth management firm that was ranked among Black Enterprise magazine’s “40 Best Companies for Diversity.” She is the first black woman to land the post, at a company with $663 billion in assets under management.
Young actress Monique Coleman rose to fame co-starring in Disney’s High School Musical and continued the momentum with roles on Disney’s The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Boston Public and Dancing with the Stars. A Teen Choice Award and American Music Award winner, Coleman made history recently as the first ever UN Youth Champion for the International Year of Youth. Jumping into the digital media business, Coleman founded GimmeMo.com where she features content for millennials and executive produces online talk show Gimme Mo‘, dedicated to youth empowerment.
J Veronica Biggins is managing director of diversified search at AVNet Inc., one of the world’s largest trans-national electronics distributors. She also serves on the board of directors for Southwest Airlines. She was formerly on the board of Airtran Holdings, parent company to Airtran Airways, (which was bought by Southwest last year.) Biggins’ stellar resume includes being the former managing partner of diversity and senior partner at Heidrick & Struggles and a partner at Hodge, Niederer, Cariani & Lindsay. She also served as director of personnel for former President William “Bill” Clinton.
A hip-hop pioneer, Queen Latifah has reigned supreme on shows including Living Single and blockbuster movies including The Secret Life of Bees, Chicago, and Set It Off.
Her business brand expands beyond acting, into gold- and platinum-selling albums, multimillion-dollar endorsements, philanthropy and entrepreneurship. She’s co-founder of Flavor Unit Entertainment, which executive produced the box-office hit Bringing Down the House, and had a music management roster that included top talent like Monica, OutKast, LL Cool J, and Naughty By Nature. The face of her own CoverGirl cosmetics line, Queen Latifah also heads the Lancelot H. Owens Scholarship Foundation, Inc. which provides scholarships to students.