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Biography: Kathy Cloninger

Episode 508
How to Attract Buzz Rathern Than Buzzards!

Featured Guest:

Kathy Cloninger
CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA

Kathy Cloninger is the Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), the premier leadership development organization for girls. She is a recognized expert on, and advocate for girls' and women's issues, leading the organization to fulfill a more comprehensive mission: Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

Now in its 95th year, GSUSA serves 2.8 million girl members and nearly a million adult volunteers by providing girl-centric programs in science, technology, business and financial literacy, health and safety, and outdoor and environmental awareness. The activities are designed to provide fun and friendship opportunities, and to foster the development of self-esteem in girls of every race, faith, economic status, geographic origin and physical stature. GSUSA is the largest member organization of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, which reaches 10 million girls in 144 member countries.

On her arrival at Girl Scout headquarters in late 2003, Cloninger launched a sweeping transformation of the entire Girl Scout Movement to increase its compelling, contemporary appeal and relevance to 21st-century girls, resulting in the new Girl Scout business strategy that:

• Focuses the Girl Scout program on leadership development and provable outcomes that benefit girls, families and communities;
• Overhauls outdated volunteer systems and widens the volunteer base;
• Revitalizes the Girl Scout brand as the premier leadership experience for girls;
• Builds a culture of philanthropy and models how to raise funds for girls;
• Streamlines corporate structure and governance, and realigns Girl Scout councils into high-capacity, high-performance councils that more effectively deliver the Girl Scout program;
• Champions diversity and pluralism.

Cloninger's 23 years in Girl Scouting include service as CEO with Girl Scout councils in Tennessee, Texas and Colorado; as national management consultant for GSUSA; and as participants with groundbreaking task groups strategizing on girls' well-being. She was an executive grant-maker at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, CEO of two YWCA branches in Texas, and a career development consultant.

Cloninger serves on the national boards of American Humanics and the National Assembly of Human Services, and on advisory boards for America's Promise, See Jane, and the National Association of Corporate Boards. She is a founder of Tennessee's Association of Nonprofit Executives. She has received numerous awards, including Nonprofit CEO of the Year 2000 from the Center for Nonprofit Management, and the NCCJ Human Relations Award.

A native of Dallas, Texas, Cloninger got her start as a Girl Scout in her mother's troop. She earned an M.S. in counseling and business management from East Texas State University.

She and her husband, Michael, favor country music, and have hosted nearly 350 world-class songwriter concerts at their homes in Nashville and New York.

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