Empowering young women to pursue successful lives on their owns terms was the theme of the hour when the Girls Scouts of Northeast Texas held its Women of Distinction Luncheon on Friday, November 2, at the Omni Hotel Dallas. The theme was stressed from the get-go, when luncheon Co-chairs Dee Brown and Sharon Morrison welcomed everyone before giving way to Clarice Tinsley, the pioneering FOX4 anchor — and female role model — who would serve as the event emcee.
After noting that the luncheon had grossed $635,000 so far — and was aiming for $700,000, with the help of texted donations during the event itself — Clarice introduced the 2018 winners of the Girls Scouts’ Young Woman of Distinction Awards. They were Divya Lal, a junior at Richland Collegiate High School who helped residents of South Dallas learn about the importance of spaying and neutering pets, and Timarie Luker, a junior at Plano East High School. Timarie designed a “sensory room” for students with severe autism at a local elementary school.
Another honor, the Man Enough to Be a Girl Scout Award, was given to Avi Khan, president and CEO of Hilti North America, who’s passionate about promoting women into senior leadership roles. Then it was time for the final honors of the hour, the Woman of Distinction Awards. They went to Arcilia C. Acosta, president and CEO of CARCON Industries and Construction and of STL Engineers, and Linda Perryman Evans, president and CEO of The Meadows Foundation. Arcilia was hailed as a tireless advocate for women and Latinos, while Linda was applauded as “the embodiment of philanthropy.”
While guests continued enjoying their lunch (spinach and brie soup, lotus root salad with breast of chicken, Savannah Smile mousse or Thin Mint tartlette), they heard next from Jennifer Bartkowski, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. “Confidence is a 21st century skill,” Jennifer told the crowd. “And there’s no place better to develop that confidence than the Girls Scouts. … Society is just beginning to realize the value and power of girls, but we’ve known it all along.”
At 12:30 p.m., when it was flashed on the screen that $656,480 had been raised by the luncheon so far, Cassie Lee of presenting sponsor AT&T took the stage. After thanking Honorary Co-Chairs Nancy Ann Hunt and Ashlee Kleinert, Cassie brought back Divya and Timarie, who in turn introduced the event’s keynote speaker, Ann Shoket. Formerly the editor-in-chief of Seventeen and CosmoGirl magazines, Ann is now an author whose widely acclaimed book, “The Big Life,” is something of a guide telling millennial women how to be powerful and successful.
“There’s not a woman or a girl who doesn’t deserve every drop of her dream,” Ann said. Her dream growing up, she said, was to be a writer in New York, though not everyone supported her. However, she added, “Every doubter made me stronger.” There are more possibilities for girls today than ever before, Ann went on, using her own history to illustrate: “When I was a Brownie in the 1980s, we learned to macrame. Today’s girls are learning cybersecurity!”
Segueing into a discussion of her book, Shoket said, “I’m basically the Jane Goodall of millennials.” She urged the young women in the audience to pursue a job they have passion for and to seek a “relationship that’s a partnership.” What is “The Big Life,” exactly? she asked the crowd rhetorically: “It’s building a life on your own terms. … Forget all the ‘shoulds, the rules,’ ” she continued, offering these nuggets of hard-won wisdom instead:
“Say yes to everything. Embrace the ‘mess;’ work/life balance is a sham—the mess is the message that will propel you forward. Be OK with not knowing [everything]. Rely on your girl squad; it’s about collaboration, not competition. The Girls Scouts are the ultimate girl squad! … When she succeeds, we all succeed. That’s the real power of sisterhood.”
After Ann received a rousing ovation, Clarice came back to conclude the program. The table centerpieces had been sponsored by Lyda Hill, Clarice announced, and each one could be taken home for $20 — money that would inch the day’s pot closer to that $700,000 mark. Talk about empowering the sisterhood!
* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman