Sally Shankweiler Daley began to doubt her decision to major in computer science at Bloomsburg University when she found herself struggling. Her adviser, Professor Charles Hoppel, now retired, wouldn’t let her consider switching majors.
“Studies of women in college have found that when a female went into a guidance counselor’s office and said, ‘I’m having trouble in my major,’ the counselor would say, ‘That’s OK, we’ll put you in something else.’ ” Daley says. “But if a boy went in, they would say, ‘You need to stay with it.’
“They found the barrier for exit for women in college was much lower than for men,” says Daley, who graduated in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. “It was a tough major, but I am so grateful to him for coaching me that way when so many other women were not getting that.”
As the CEO of the Charlotte, N.C.-based Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council — covering eight counties and serving 17,000 girls — finding the best ways to motivate young women to be tomorrow’s leaders is a priority for Daley. And ensuring the organization remains relevant in the modern world is a continuing focus for Daley and the entire Girl Scouts organization, which undertook a program-wide review in 2004.
Yes, Girl Scouting is still about experiencing the outdoors. But that’s only the start.
“Right now there are four main program focus areas: The STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), environmental education and leadership, community outreach and community building, and healthy living and well-being,” Daley says.
In the single-sex environment, girls can feel free to express themselves and ask and answer questions — something, she says, studies have shown girls may not do with the same ease when both genders are learning together. While much has been made of how women are underrepresented in the hard sciences, Daley says it’s not that girls aren’t interested, but they have to see how the sciences fit into what they find important.
“Girl’s aren’t afraid of technology, but lean toward careers that help people,” Daley says. “We need to show them how technology can help people and say, ‘You may want to consider a career in this.’”
Girls are IT
In 2002, Daley was a vice president at Wachovia Bank, now Wells Fargo, where she developed the institution’s customer electronic payment system. The Hornets’ Nest Council had just secured a three-year, $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for Girls Are IT, a program that teaches Girl Scouts about information technology and, today, features a classroom with 12 fully equipped computer workstations in a remodeled school bus. When the grant was approved, she left Wachovia to oversee the program for the council and rose through the ranks, becoming CEO four years ago.
“Under Sally Daley’s leadership, Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest has developed innovative STEM programs, such as Girl Scout Forensics 101 and Girls are IT,” says Anna Maria Chávez, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA. “These programs are not only fun, but get girls interested in STEM careers and showcase the kind of leadership Sally has brought to the council.”
Lifelong Girl Scout
Married to Michael Daley, a senior vice president with Wells Fargo, Daley was a troop leader for her stepdaughter, Elizabeth, who is now in college. Daley’s mother was her troop leader while she was growing up in Coplay, near Allentown. As a scout, Daley loved going to Camp Mosey Wood in the Poconos — so much so that its close proximity to Bloomsburg played a big role in her choosing the university. Throughout her time at BU, Daley volunteered at the camp, leading girls in activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing and kayaking.
Given her love of the outdoors, it’s fitting that one of Daley’s significant achievements as Hornets’ Nest’s CEO is the creation of the 700-acre Oak Springs camp, which she calls her council’s “property of the future.” Made possible by the sale of three smaller camps, as well as an ongoing $10 million fundraising effort, Oak Springs opened in 2008 and one day will be able to serve as many as 2,000 girls. The camp will be named The Dale Earnhardt Environmental Leadership Campus in honor of the legendary NASCAR driver whose foundation recently awarded a $2 million gift, the largest in its history, in support of the property’s development.
A Girl Scout on Campus
While she’s not a part of Daley’s council, Bloomsburg freshman Montana M. Drumheller shares the same commitment to the organization. She joined her Catawissa troop when she was 5 and has remained active ever since, prizing the camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment she gets from scouting.
Drumheller earned the organization’s Gold Award, the equivalent of the Boy Scout’s Eagle Award. To achieve the award, she and another scout designed and landscaped a butterfly garden at a local church in honor of a high school classmate who died of cancer. Drumheller also created a cancer awareness program for her Girl Scout troop and, with her mom, continues to be involved in activities, such as organizing Christmas gift drives for patients at the Geisinger Medical Center’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville and cooking meals for those staying at the nearby Ronald McDonald House.
“Girl Scouting helped me develop my own sense of who I am,” Drumheller says. “It helps girls figure out what they want to do; it helps girls take leadership roles. The one thing Girl Scouts gives you is the opportunity to be different and stand out from everyone else. It also gives you what I like to call ‘sisters.’ ”
Listening to the needs and concerns of girls and their parents is paying off for Daley’s council. In an environment where many organizations are struggling to retain members, Hornets’ Nest experienced 10 percent growth in the past year, Daley says.
“In this economy, some families are having to trim back, and they find that the Girl Scouts continue to be a great value for their dollar for the programs they’re getting,’’ Daley says. “Everything we do is about developing girl leadership. Filling that gender equity gap, that’s what a lot of parents want for their girls, that chance for them to obtain leadership skills.” •
Jack Sherzer is a professional writer and principal partner with Message Prose LLC, www.messageprose.com, a communications and public relations firm in Harrisburg.