It was a sea of green for the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas‘ 2019 Women of Distinction celebration at the Omni Dallas Hotel on Friday, October 18. In addition to keynote speaker Victoria Arlen, accolades were paid for the two Women of Distinction, the Man Enough to be a Girl Scout, the two Young Women of Distinction and the Lifetime Achievement Awardee, whose mother founded Dallas’ first Brownie troop in the 1930s. Here is a report from the field:
“Life is better in pink-fringy pants,” declared Victoria Arlen as she addressed the crowded room at the 2019 Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas Women of Distinction Luncheon on Friday, October 18. Arlen served as the inspiring keynote speaker at the organization’s annual fundraiser which celebrates the women, girls and even men who are working to empower girls across northeast Texas.
Held at the Omni Hotel Dallas, the luncheon opened with local Girl Scouts Event Co-Chairs Venise Stuart and Candace Winslow and Texas Instruments Educational Technology President Peter Balyta sharing stories of Courage, Character and Confidence which was clearly the theme of the afternoon.
In her opening remarks, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas CEO Jennifer Bartkowski made clear that while it’s not easy being a girl today, Girl Scouts can help girls develop the courage, confidence and character to face any challenge they might face. From having the confidence to excel in math and science to having the courage to talk to a friend or parent are mental health, Girl Scouts has updated programming designed to help girls in 2019 and beyond.
As guests enjoyed their lunch (a wedge salad, balsamic glazed chicken with risotto and seasonal veggies, S’mores panna cotta or Thin Mint pie) longtime Girl Scout supporter, female role model and FOX4 anchor Clarice Tinsley took the stage to introduce this year’s honorees.
First, was the Man Enough to be a Girl Scout award received by The Latino Center for Leadership Development Founder Jorge Baldor. The organization has helped more than 25 women become elected officials, board members or commission leaders. This year’s Women of Distinction were Mint Dentistry Co-Owner/Equipped by Faith Ministries Founder Sabrina Martinez Harrison and Roslyn Dawson Thompson, president and CEO of Texas Women’s Foundation – the largest regional women’s fund in the world.
This year, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas also awarded local philanthropic powerhouse Mary Anne Cree with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Girl Scouts is in Mary Anne’s blood, as her mother, the late Rosine Sammons, started the first Brownie troop in Dallas in the late 1930’s.
The final awards were given to two Young Women of Distinction, who each year inspire event attendees to get out and do more for our communities. If high school students can achieve this much, so can the rest of us! Gauri Nukala and Mary Katherine Furtrell were this year’s recipients, recognized for their Gold Award projects in STEM education and ocean conservation respectively.
The event closed with a keynote speech from Victoria Arlen, television host, author and Paralympic Gold medalist. Listening to the bubbly, athletic, young women it was difficult to imagine that when she was just 11 a rare viral disease left her in a vegetative state for four years and in a wheel chair for the 10 years following. With courage beyond belief, Victoria described how for nearly four years, she was “trapped in her own body” – able to hear her surroundings, but stuck from reacting to them. “Courage kept me alive,” shared Arlen, who went on to say that counting her blessings, however small, helped bring her back in what can only be described as a medical miracle. Courage, confidence and character lead Victoria through a long path of the recovery and eventually landing her a spot on “Dancing with the Stars” – hence the pink fringy pants. “When you find what you are grateful for, it can get you back on the path to live your dreams,” closed Arlen.
Ever prompt, those Girl Scouts are, the event ended at 1:00 pm on the dot with guests feeling inspired and grateful as they left with their centerpieces into the crisp, sunny Friday afternoon.
* Photo credit: Kim Leeson