Interview by Lily Condodina
Growing up from being a Daisy Girl Scout in kindergarten to my last year as an Ambassador, the power and capability of young girls and women have always been engraved in my mind, and I will forever be grateful for that. I have never had the faintest doubt in my strengths and empowerment as a young woman, and I owe that to the Girl Scouts organization, and specifically to my current troop leader, Lucia Triolo.
Mrs. Triolo was born in Italy. She eventually migrated to the United States, becoming a resident of New Jersey, where she served as a Girl Scout leader in my hometown. She was the driving force of my own feelings of empowerment and value, but over our phone interview, she admitted that she had not always been this way. Growing up in a different generation than me, and all of her Girl Scouts –– which included her two daughters –– she was not always met with the mentality that women and girls can do anything, or be anything. It was a time where perhaps the full power of women was not recognized or appreciated. Nevertheless, she relentlessly countered the expectations of others, becoming increasingly successful not only in her professional career but in her realization of the significance of women and their contribution to every aspect of society, as the Girl Scouts organization highlights.
“I recognized [through these experiences] that there is a real and tangible need for women to be recognized or [be] given permission to be empowered,” she says “To not necessarily have to be polite..."
Mrs. Triolo has given her Girl Scouts the head start to be raised in an environment that celebrates girls and their talents as well as embraces who they are. According to Mrs. Triolo, these are the reasons why she has remained a loyal leader ever since she stumbled upon the position so many years ago. I was curious as to why exactly she got involved with the Girl Scout organization, and she credited her growth to her daughters.
“My involvement with Girl Scouts,” she says, “certainly came from a wanting for each of my daughters to have the quintessential American experience, as I thought. But through Girl Scouts, I am very happy, very pleasantly surprised to learn what a wonderful and empowering organization it is.” She says her involvement evolved into a rewarding experience for not only herself but also for the young girls she leads and the women she works with. However, she did not go looking to be a troop leader. She said, “I came to Girl Scouts because there were no other leaders, truly.” As her oldest daughter was on the waiting list for a troop –– Mrs. Triolo stepped in and said, “I’ve managed multimillion-dollar projects and organizations globally. I can manage 12 kindergarteners!” She suddenly became the mom that would not only inspire ideas of empowerment in her own daughters but many others throughout the town.
The ideas of empowerment and strength that Mrs. Triolo evokes and teaches stretch far and wide, but how is she doing it? Why are Girl Scouts so different and so prominent in these young girls’ lives? Continuously, Mrs. Triolo refers back to the goal of the organization.
“Locally, the program is designed so that it transitions from adult run to self-run. You are training young girls in the finer points of team management, project management, conflict resolution, of learning to speak in their own voice, of the importance of delivering on your word.”
I have experienced firsthand how crucial these skills are to learn from a young age, and how they have prepared me and all my fellow troop members to go into the real world. The best part about these lessons is that they are taught in a fun, enjoyable, and collaborative way, all the while emphasizing that women and girls can do it too. While Mrs. Triolo and I reminisced on the many activities my troop has gone through over the years, we concluded that Girl Scouts goes a lot deeper than many people may think.
“The stereotype is that Girl Scouts make crafts and sell cookies,” she says, “We are more than just cookies. We are about teaching young women about developing a business plan, financial literacy, advocacy — even just through cookies!” She begs the question, “How many girls do you know outside of Girl Scouts that have such an understanding about developing a business plan?” Very little is the answer. Over my years as a Girl Scout, we have done activities from talent shows to food banks, to sewing, to movie nights — anything you could possibly think of. But everything has a purpose, no matter how large or small. “While the projects seem darling, they are an entrance into greater opportunities.” I asked her if there was anyone specific time, event, or activity as a leader that spoke to and empowered her, and as the selfless person she is, she reiterated that it is not about her, but the girls that she is leading. She made it clear to me that Girl Scouts, along with her tremendous volunteer work, surrounds one purpose, “The end goal being developing well-rounded, intellectually curious young women.” She says she is there to “empower, engage, and instruct.” Whatever the girls happen to feel a connection to is up to them, and that’s what they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. So essentially, her most empowering experience has been empowering others — a message to us all that we need to share the message of self-worth and ability to all young girls.
“Organizations, whether it’s Girl Scouts, or 4H, or religious groups, anything of the sort, structured properly, instruct girls, who develop into young women, who develop into adults, how to carry themselves in the world and having many voices support a person in that development is super important.” This is Mrs. Triolo’s take on the role of Girl Scouts in the lives of young women. I can testify to the fact that she was the most prominent voice supporting me in my development into an empowered and aware young woman, and I am not the only one. With her new role as Service Manager for the Girl Scouts, she handles over 1,000 Girl Scouts and 100 leaders. First, she had a desire to help her daughters, then she had an impact on 12 kindergarteners who had little idea how much she would have to do with their growth in self-value and importance. Now, she influences the lives of 1,000 young women locally involved in what I believe to be one of the most important organizations in the world. She enriches their experience so that they can one day become empowered, enlightened, and capable women in society, just like her.
Her advice for young girls around the world is, “Be confident in your voice. Continue to be intellectually curious. Never apologize for your position in a discussion — an educated position cannot be dismissed.” -GGH