Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lidia Soto Harmon > www.GSCNC.org

Lidia Soto Hamon, CEO, Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital

Being Hispanic… Does it have any influence on your business?
Being a Latina helps to guide the work that I do because it helps to make sure that I am always including all the girls in our community. I have a special place in my heart for new Americans, and those who need amazing Girl Scout programming. I remember coming to this country and having an accent when I spoke English and how there were folks who pretended they didn’t understand me. We have to be generous of heart!

In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
I always remember my father’s sage advice: “Para atrás, ni para coger impulse”, “don’t look back not even to get momentum.” In life we need to look at adversity as opportunities to improve and excel.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
I think being a good mother and a professional woman has been challenging. I think it can be done, but it requires have a great partner in life to help and a huge heart so that children know they are always "número uno."

If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
If I could change one thing about my life I would find an extra 24 hours a day. That would give me enough time to do all the things that I want to do and also the things I need to do.

What was your childhood ambition?
I wanted to be a teacher growing up, I would line up all my dolls and teach them about how to make cafecito cubano.

Tell us about three people that you admire?
I admire my parents who left their homeland to give me a better future, it took a lot of courage because they love their island.
I admire the young Girl Scouts I meet in my job and the great ambition they have to make the world a better place, they inspire me to work harder and do better.
I admire Juliette Gordon Low, who in 1912 started the Girl Scout Movement. Back then girls were not allowed to camp, and play outside, women didn’t even have the right to vote, and she was a pioneer in starting an organization that inpires us to be leaders. 
A modern inspiration to me is Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She is amazing, coming from a humble background, working so hard, and being an advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. She inspires me too.

For meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
Lunch. Breakfast I am always communting, and dinner I want to be home with my family.

What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
I think the biggest sacrifice was to not always think of myself first. Now that my children are older I am learning how to zumba and take more time to be healthy.

What is your favorite quote?
“Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.” By Antonio Machado.
We all need to walk forward and as we walk we will make our way.

Is it difficult to be unconventional?
Yes, you have to have self confidence that you will preserver and that other will appreciate your perspective.

Biggest mistake made?
I once skipped lunch and ate a whole box of Girl Scout Thin Mints, my stomach ached for days. Seriously, my biggest mistake is perhaps trying to do it all. I have a family that I love, and I am passionate about my career. It is a mistake to think that it is all my responsibility. I have learned over the years to share parenting with my husband, and at work to surround myself with the right people—the brightest and the best. I have confidence in their ability to do their part, which makes my work that much easier.

Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
Yes, I think an innovator is someone who listens to others and take the best ideas and helps make them a reality.

About the Company
GSCNC is the area's preeminent leadership organization for girls, serving 90,000 members, 62,000 girls ages 5-17. The council serves the Greater Washington Region, which includes the District of Columbia and 25 counties in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. For the third year in a row, over 200 girls achieved the Gold Award, the highest award earned in Girl Scouting. More than 1,400 Council-sponsored programs and experiential activities are provided to thousands of girls and families. During the 2010 summer camp season, 4,200 girls attended our four sleep-away camps, and an additional 11,500 girls participated in summer day and evening camps. Over 33,000 Girl Scouts participated in weekend camping opportunities on GSCNC campsites. We operate eight camp properties: Aquasco, Brighton Woods and Winona in Maryland; Coles Trip, Crowell, May Flather and Potomac Woods in Virginia; and White Rock in West Virginia. We provide over $500,000 in financial assistance to girls and adults to participate in programs, attend camp, start troops and purchase uniforms. We have 112 talented, full-time employees, with an operating budget of $16 million. We are headquartered in Washington, DC, with offices in Frederick and Waldorf, Maryland; Leesburg, Lorton and Manassas, Virginia; and Martinsburg, West Virginia. We build girls of character, courage and confidence who make the world a better place.

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