Guide Honorees

Guides are alumnae who have distinguished themselves as mentors to others. They have demonstrated track records of helping others succeed and have achieved personal success through mentorship.

Mary Blegen

Executive Vice President of Employee Engagement and Leadership Development
U.S. Bancorp

Mentoring and talent development have long been among Girl Scout Mary Blegen’s top priorities as an executive leader. During her 38 years with U.S. Bancorp, Blegen helped guide hundreds of professional women at all career levels. She established a mentoring program that now has more than 3,000 participants and also launched an engagement survey of the bank’s 60,000 employees. She has been honored as a top female banker by U.S. Banker, Finance & Commerce and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

Blegen serves on the 2012 Campaign Cabinet of Greater Twin Cities United Way, and is also a member of Women’s Leadership Council and Tocqueville Society. Previously, she served as a board member of WomenVenture and Minnesota Special Olympics. Blegen is a native of Richfield, MN, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from the University of Minnesota.

While in college, Mary Blegen stepped in to lead her younger sister’s troop, which lost their leader. She drew on the leadership lessons she learned during her own Girl Scout experience and asked the girls to play an active role in organizing troop meetings, planning community service events and deciding on other activities to pursue as a group. As a team, they debriefed each event, focused on their successes, and identified lessons learned — skills that would prove valuable in later life. Blegen enjoyed the two years she spent as a troop leader and feels this experience helped her develop as both a leader and follower.

While in college, Mary Blegen stepped in to lead her younger sister’s troop, which lost their leader. She drew on the leadership lessons she learned during her own Girl Scout experience and asked the girls to play an active role in organizing troop meetings, planning community service events and deciding on other activities to pursue as a group. As a team, they debriefed each event, focused on their successes, and identified lessons learned — skills that would prove valuable in later life. Blegen enjoyed the two years she spent as a troop leader and feels this experience helped her develop as both a leader and follower.

Nancy Randall Dana, Ed.S., Supt.

Executive Director/Superintendent
St. Paul City School

Nancy Randall Dana is a passionate advocate for providing underserved students the quality education they need to ensure a positive future. She has been a leader in the charter school movement in the St. Paul community with personal involvement in 24 schools. Dana has also served as adjunct faculty for Hamline University, Macalester College and University of St. Thomas. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Fine Arts degree from Coe College, a Master’s in Education Leadership from Bethel College, and an Educational Specialist Degree and Superintendency from the University of Minnesota–Mankato.

Dana is a lifetime Girl Scout who earned her Curved Bar award. She has also been an adult volunteer and board member of the legacy St. Croix Valley and River Valleys councils. Her family’s roots in Scouting run deep, spanning five generations. Dana is also a board member of the North Star Council of Boy Scouts of America, Grotto Foundation, Frogtown Community Development Corporation and is an active member of Olivet Congregational Church, St. Paul.

Nancy Randall Dana’s career in public service is an outgrowth of the values imparted by her grandparents, Mary and C.B. Randall, and her father, William B. Randall, who were trailblazers in establishing Scouting in St. Paul in the early 1900s. In her years as a school administrator, Dana encountered tremendous challenges in dealing with state and federal mandates such as the No Child Left Behind Act. She believes the courage, confidence and character she learned as a Girl Scout enabled her to put the best interests of her students and families first in times of difficulty.

Marlys Knuth

Adjunct Educator
Shire Equestrian Breeder, Sudden Creek Shires

Marlys Knuth is a retired teacher and administrator from Slayton, MN. She has been a dedicated Girl Scout volunteer for 34 years, and has served on the Board of Directors of the legacy Peacepipe and River Valleys councils. Knuth is also very active in her community, serving as a board member of Kiwanis and the Woodstock Telephone Company. She is also the Minnesota State Education chair for Catholic Daughters, a member of the American Shire Horse Association, a volunteer with the RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), and is actively involved with Senior College. Knuth holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Minnesota State University–Mankato.

Marlys Knuth defines a mentor as a person who provides support, guidance and encouragement on a variety of life issues. She is inspired by a quote from Oprah Winfrey: “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”

In her work with at-risk students, Knuth wrote a curriculum modeling the Girl Scout Pathways to earning a badge as a way to help them develop confidence and good decision-making skills. She reinvented some of the activities and experiences to be appropriate for a school setting, and focused on building relationships and active participation in their families and community. The program successfully demonstrated to the students how they could map out a plan, identify the steps and tasks for completion, and implement actions to achieve their goals. Knuth was pleased to see positive change in many of her students as a result of their participation.

Marlys Knuth defines a mentor as a person who provides support, guidance and encouragement on a variety of life issues. She is inspired by a quote from Oprah Winfrey: “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”

Gloria Lewis

President and Chief Executive Officer
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities

As president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities (the sixth largest of 340 BBBS agencies) Girl Scout Gloria Lewis is dedicated to enriching children’s lives through one-to-one relationships with caring adult mentors. Through her work, Lewis has the opportunity every day to see how these relationships benefit both the “Bigs” and “Littles.” Lewis also serves as a board member of the United Way of the Greater Twin Cities, Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota Council of Regents and Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation. She is the immediate past president of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and was named one of the top minority corporate executives by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hampton University and a Master of Arts degree from Boston University.

These values guided Lewis into a career as a agent for change. Prior to joining Big Brothers Big Sisters, she developed the largest legislative-funded health disparities initiative in the nation here in Minnesota. While working for the Chicago Department of Public Health, Lewis created the first violence prevention plan developed by a major urban city. As a director in the Philadelphia School District, she developed and maintained a drug and alcohol prevention system for students in grades K–12. Today, these same values serve as Lewis’ motivation for the work she does with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Staying true to her convictions is extremely important to Gloria Lewis. Being a Girl Scout reinforced the values and morals her family instilled in her as a young woman, including knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Susan MacHolda

Senior Director of Human Relations
Carlson

In her role as senior director of Human Resources at Carlson, Girl Scout Susan MacHolda mentors hundreds of employees in their career development, satisfying her passion for helping people realize their potential and feel empowered.

For her accomplishments, MacHolda received the Carlson Fellows Award — the company’s highest honor for individual career achievement. She is also committed to working with at-risk youth and has served as a board member and mentor with Cookie Cart (a north Minneapolis nonprofit which provides work experience for neighborhood youth), as well as a Big Sister for a young woman whose mother died of a massive heart attack. A native of Indianapolis, MacHolda earned a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Communication from the University of Minnesota.

Susan MacHolda learned the importance of volunteering from her mother, Arzella Mills, who served on the Hoosier Girl Scout Council board for many years and got her involved in Girl Scouts at an early age. Says MacHolda, “It was truly inspirational to see others look up to my mom. Talk about instilling courage and confidence! That’s exactly what I hope to help others experience.”

Another inspiration for MacHolda’s volunteer service has been River Valleys’ Centennial Champion, Marilyn Carlson Nelson. By involving MacHolda in her community efforts, such as the Itasca Project, Nelson helped raise her awareness of the challenges and socio-economic disparities within Minnesota. This caused MacHolda to realize that it was her personal responsibility to become part of the solution and bring forth a positive change through volunteering.

Kathryn ‘Kathy’ May

Retired Director, Research Administration
Allina Health

Kathy May is a lifetime Girl Scout who earned the Curved Bar award. She has over 35 years of membership, beginning as a Brownie in Willmar, MN, and continuing through her current role as second vice chair of River Valleys’ Board of Directors. During her Girl Scout career, May served as president of the legacy St. Croix Valley Council, and board member and chair of numerous committees. She also shared her considerable organizational and leadership skills with Girl Scout councils across the country as a National Operational Volunteer for Girl Scouts of the USA. She is a role model and mentor who nurtured many of her Girl Scout sisters over the years.

May’s community involvement also included serving as a member of St. Paul School Board committees, Children’s Hospital Board of Directors and St. Paul Junior League. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota.

May challenges young people with the words from the book, “Now is the Time” by Patrick Lindsay:

Use every opportunity to add to your knowledge.
Go with an open mind.
Relish the chance to learn.
Enjoy the challenge.
Seek perspective.”

Kathy May believes her life has been a series of personal growth opportunities. In Girl Scouting, she found progression in skill development and the courage to step up and take on leadership tasks, as well as the support of caring adults who provided affirmation and encouragement to try new things. The result was a positive leadership development experience that she carried into her adult life.

Deborah L. Montgomery

Past St. Paul City Council Member, Ward 1
Retired Senior Commander, City of St. Paul
Police Department

At 17, she was the youngest person ever elected to the NAACP’s National Board of Directors, where she worked tirelessly for the enactment of civil rights laws. As an adult, she has committed to keeping minority and women’s issues in public view, and encouraged girls and young women to consider public service as a powerful way to make a difference in their communities.

As the first female police officer in the history of the St. Paul Police Department, Deborah Montgomery took on the challenge of breaking new ground and excelling in a male-dominated career field. She broke down barriers and actively mentored other women seeking to follow in her footsteps.

In 2004, Montgomery also became the first African-American woman elected to the St. Paul City Council. She breathed life into her message of unity and equal opportunity through service on the legacy St. Croix Valley Council Board of Directors, as well as other community organizations including Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, St. Paul Urban League and YWCA of St. Paul.

Montgomery holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s degree in Police Administration and Police Community Education from the University of St. Thomas. She also continued her undergraduate education at the University of Minnesota in Political Science and Sociology.

Although Deborah Montgomery’s Girl Scout involvement began as an adult, she has spent a lifetime living the Movement’s core values of courage, confidence and character. Her desire to make the world a better place led her to stand up for her beliefs and challenge society’s restrictions from a very young age.

Kimberly Foster Price, J.D.

Assistant General Counsel
3M Company

An accomplished lawyer specializing in mergers and acquisitions, Girl Scout Kimberly Foster Price has had a successful 25-year career in the legal department of 3M. Her professional accomplishments are matched only by her reputation as a guide and mentor to countless young people — both attorneys and those pursuing other career fields.

Despite her busy schedule, Price has devoted considerable time to community service activities, including serving on the Board of Directors for Children’s Hospitals of Minnesota, the legacy Greater Minneapolis Council (as its former secretary), the Ivy Foundation of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and was second vice president of the board for the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center. She has also been a trustee of Breck School, a member of River Valleys’ Board Development Committee, and served as vice president of Membership for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. Price earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bowdoin College, a Master of Public Administration degree from Princeton University and a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia University.

Growing up as a Girl Scout in Washington, DC, Kimberly Foster Price gained the confidence to pursue her dreams of higher education and a legal career, and developed a strong commitment to serving others. As an adult, she has been guided by the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who observed: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” In her life, Price has endeavored to honor the trailblazers who paved the way for her, and to utilize her gifts and talents to “send the elevator back down to bring others up.”

Kimberly Vappie, J.D.

Chief Executive Officer
Menttium Corporation

Girl Scout Kimberly Vappie realized an entrepreneurial dream at the young age of 26 when she and a business partner purchased Menttium Corporation — a Minneapolis-based organization that provides corporate mentoring systems to accelerate business performance and leadership development. Bolstered by her confidence that she could make a valuable contribution to the organization’s clients, mentees and mentors, Vappie took a risk that enabled her to pursue a career she is passionate about. After 10 years, Vappie feels fortunate and proud to own a business that makes a difference — one with a focus on nurturing tomorrow’s leaders.

She currently serves on the Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity Steering Committee, Graywolf Press Board of Directors, and is a member of the National Black MBA Association and League of Black Women. Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal honored Vappie in 2004 with the Women Changemaker Award. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Business Management from Augsburg College and a Juris Doctor degree from Hamline University School of Law.

Kimberly Vappie credits much of her personal and professional growth and success to the many mentors she has in her life, including several Girl Scout volunteers. Her mother, however, was her first mentor. Despite growing up in the Deep South with few professional career options available for African-American women, Vappie’s mother completed her education and became a nurse. Vappie’s own upbringing was much different, exposing her to a wide range of opportunities through Girl Scouting and other activities.

Phyllis Willerscheidt

Retired Director, Commission on Women, Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Past National Board Member, Girl Scouts of the USA
Board Chair Emerita, Girl Scouts River Valleys

Phyllis Willerscheidt is the retired director of the Commission on Women for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, where she was a nationally recognized advocate for victims of clergy sex abuse.

During her 35 years as a Girls Scout volunteer, Willerscheidt served at every level of the organization — troop leader, service unit leader, board president of the legacy St. Croix Valley Council and board member of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). Most recently, she led the newly established River Valleys council as board chair from October 2007 until January 2012. Willerscheidt’s experience, commitment and ability to bring people together have been invaluable to Girl Scouts River Valleys as we worked to build a new, high-functioning council from five separate and distinct organizations.

She also served as co-chair of the 1993 GSUSA National Convention held in the Twin Cities. Willerscheidt is a member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society, and is the parent and grandparent of Girl Scouts.

Willerscheidt holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of St. Thomas and a Master of Arts degree in Communications and Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota.

Phyllis Willerscheidt is a courageous and strong leader who lives the Girl Scout values in every aspect of her life. In her work as a victim’s advocate and educator on the problem of clergy sexual abuse, Willerscheidt was often called upon to challenge entrenched behaviors and attitudes. She was an outspoken champion who worked tirelessly to enable victims to achieve spiritual healing that would enable them to move forward with their lives.

Nou Yang

Senior Community Leadership Manager, Youth Leadership Initiative
Amherst H. Wilder Foundation

Nou Yang has dedicated her life and work to systemic cultural, institutional and social change in order to improve the lives of Hmong women and youth. Her professional experience includes management and delivery of youth leadership programs and crisis intervention services; providing technical assistance, research, and networking opportunities to out-of-school-time providers; and volunteer recruitment and management. From 2004 to 2007, Yang worked for the legacy St. Croix Valley Council to expand membership in underrepresented communities. She has continued her involvement in Girl Scouts as a volunteer and council delegate. Yang currently serves as the board chair of Hnub Tshiab: Hmong Women Achieving Together — an organization that envisions a world where Hmong women and girls are valued and supported to achieve their highest potential.

For these efforts, Yang received the Changemaker Award from the Minnesota Women’s Press in 2010 and was honored by the Minnesota Women’s Consortium for “Exceptional Achievement in Honoring Women’s Dreams” in 2011. Yang attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, from which she received a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies, with an emphasis on the adolescent development of racial/ethnic youth.

As a young girl, Nou Yang immigrated to the United States from a refugee camp in Thailand. With perseverance and personal motivation, she found the courage to challenge cultural norms about Hmong women’s roles and take control of her own life. Through her work, she hopes to create lasting change that will enable other Hmong women and girls to find their voice.