Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey recently elected its new board of directors for 2019-2020 program year. Part of the election process was the selection of three girl representatives to the board of directors.

I am often asked by girls, parents and volunteers to explain the girls’ roles as representatives to the board. Simply put, these young women serve as the voice of our girl members and as the champion for even those not currently benefiting from the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. As an organization that is dedicated to the healthy development of girls and young women, we need to get girls’ and young women’s perspectives in guiding our organization. The Board of Directors need to know what girls want, what girls need, and what they think is important for the future of Girl Scouting.

The other important aspect of girl representation on the board is in the delivery of our mission. We want girls to develop into strong, confident women. We want them to become leaders in their own lives and make the change they want to see in the world. To do that, we need to give girls the unique opportunity to experience this type of role. As girl representatives, they learn about the business and governance side of our organization and become comfortable with participating on a board and voicing their opinions and concerns. During their term on the board, they get to hone their leadership skills.

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Unfortunately, we now need to say thank you and good luck to the 2018-2019 Girl Representatives; Julia Helliesen of Mountain Lakes, Alyssa Okun of Wayne, and Anjali Patel of Englewood. These girls all applied to serve on the board, so that they could give back to the organization that helped shape their lives. More importantly, they stepped up to give girls a voice at the table and help pave the way for future Girl Scouts.

Julia Helliesen, a senior at Mount Kimberley Academy, has earned all of the highest awards in Girl Scouting: the Girl Scout Bronze Award, Girl Scout Silver Award and the Girl Scout Gold Award. In the fall, she will be attending Lehigh University to study economics.

Alyssa Okun graduates from Wayne Valley High School this year and is a member of the National Honor Society. Okun also earned the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. She is headed to Stevens Institute of Technology in the fall, where she plans to study engineering.

Anjali Patel will graduate from the Academies at Englewood this year and will attend University of Texas at Austin in the fall, where she will be studying biology in a premed track.

Although they are from different geographic areas and have different interests, their passion for Girl Scouting and giving back to the community has brought them together. I am so proud that Girl Scouting has helped shape them into the incredible young women they are. I cannot wait to see what they accomplish and how they change the world in the future.