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Cookies will help create future female leaders in Phoenix

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When someone bought a box of Samoas, he may have just been satisfying his addiction to them. When another bought a box of Thin Mints in front of the supermarket, she may have just been trying to make a little Girl Scout happy. But most Phoenicians do not realize that their annual purchases of Girl Scout cookies are helping create a brighter future for girls and women throughout Arizona.

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The latest Girl Scout cookie sale was the largest in history, with 3.2 million boxes being sold by the Arizona Cactus-Pine Council. Though it has been 102 years since Georgian Juliette Gordon Lowe established the organization to help girls receive “the same opportunity as boys to develop physically, mentally and spiritually,” women still lag behind men in leadership.

Though much has been made of women being the majority of college undergraduates, only 16% of research institution professors with science or engineering doctorates are women. While women comprised almost half of the US workforce in 2012, the 14.6% of Fortune 500 female officers in 2014 number only 1.1% more than in 2009. The photo of 101 women in the 113th Congress was prominent in the media; but only 17% of Congress people and governors are women.

On March 21, current and past Girl Scout Board members were invited to hear about the Arizona campaign ($15 million) to enhance the skills and opportunities for girls to lead. The attendees got a tour of the Camp Sombrero in southern Phoenix, where a percentage of cookie sales will go towards its conversion to a leadership center for underserved girls in an urban setting.

Most of the funds will be used for construction. The main building will be made of 100% recyclable materials and LEED-certified. New air-conditioned cabins with bathrooms will accommodate 100 girls, and the conference center will hold 300 attendees. All the structures will be elevated to allow continued watershed runoff and protect the environment.

Former Secretary of State Betsey Bayless, who credits her youth as a Girl Scout with giving her the confidence to become a politician, said, “This is a great opportunity for our community to invest in young women leaders of the future.”

Phoenicians can RSVP for three April tours of Camp Sombrero. People can help achieve the $7.5 million needed to break ground this year, and finish achieving Lowe’s original vision, by donating cash, securities or property, or making pledges.