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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access & Racial Justice

The Girl Scout mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. This mission includes every girl of every background, which is why diversity, equity and inclusion is at the core of our work at Girl Scouts River Valleys. Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is a commitment to providing adaptable, culturally-relevant leadership programming that meets the needs of every girl, volunteer, family, community, and staff member throughout our 49-county region. Our work is based on the belief that everyone who participates in Girl Scouts should have the opportunity to become a leader and a changemaker.

CEO Message

Girl Scouts River Valleys is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and racial justice, and is working to boldly lead as an anti-racist organization that uplifts and empowers every Girl Scout to know their worth and lead in their world. This means leading not just with words, but with actions.

Anti-racism is active—It means recognizing systemic racism and oppression as part of our societal norms, as well as part of our organization’s own culture and practices, and that we actively work to call out and eliminate systems of oppression through our words and actions. Striving to “boldly lead as an anti-racist organization” doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes. What it does mean is that we recognize when we make mistakes and we change, and that we are here to ensure that Girl Scouts is a place of welcoming and belonging.

Shortly after the announcement was made that I would become the next Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts River Valleys, I attended the Curiosity Conference event hosted by the volunteers from BIPOC Girl Scout Troop 18793. When the Girl Scouts at the event heard who I was, they were in awe of the fact that the “Big Boss of Girl Scouts” could look just like them. One of the girls looked up at me and said, “You look like me? Well, maybe I need to change what I want to be when I grow up.”

#SuccessIsColorful is a hashtag I created in 2017 while working with youth at another organization, and now at Girl Scouts River Valleys, I’m seeing it come full circle. My experiences here will serve as my forever reminder that representation doesn’t just matter, it’s a MUST! Together, we can create spaces where every Girl Scout can find belonging and be their true, authentic self.

- Marisa C. Williams, 
  Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts River Valleys 


Cultural Competence

We build the cultural competence of Girl Scouts staff, volunteers, and board members through ongoing learning and training opportunities. We define cultural competence as the ability to recognize that people have different lived experiences; a culturally competent individual or organization understands, accepts, and respects the differences between and within cultures.

Actions & Activities
  • In partnership with local non-profit organizations, developed on-demand trainings for staff and volunteers on a variety of diversity, equity, and inclusion topics including:

    • Gender & Sexuality 101
    • A Training with Voices for Racial Justice
    • Mental Health 101: Being Prepared


  • All staff are required to take the Intercultural Development Inventory to assess and further their progression along a continuum of cross-cultural competence.

  • Quarterly Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Learning Series for staff to deepen knowledge and understanding of issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Ambassadors Program works to build internal capacity in facilitating difficult dialogue and skill development around intercultural issues.


Values & Commitment

We ensure that Girl Scouts River Valleys’ values about diversity, equity and inclusion access (DEI) are integrated across every part of our work and create systems that keep us accountable for this work.

Actions & Activities
  • Establish clear Diversity, Equity & Inclusion policies to communicate and enforce that Girl Scouts is for every family regardless of economic barriers, race or ethnicity, religion, national origin, citizenship status, disability, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identification, or any other protected identity or characteristic.

  • Provide financial assistance to 1 in 5 girls through our financial assistance program so that Girl Scout programs remain economically accessible.

  • Provide families of color with the option to participate in our Mentored Troops or ConnectZ initiatives. These initiatives provide girls of color with opportunities to participate in ethnically diverse troops where they can connect with each other and with mentors of color.

  • Create both virtual and in-person programs so that families can participate in the way that is safest, easiest, and most accessible to them.


Recruit & Retain

Girl Scouts River Valleys establishes staff policies, practices, and trainings that make Girl Scouts a welcoming, inclusive work environment with culturally competent staff.

Actions & Activities
  • Require each staff member to complete a minimum of 40 hours of purposeful DEI & racial justice learning per year to ensure staff grow in cultural competence.

  • Track staff’s cultural competence using the Intercultural Development Inventory, the premier cross-cultural assessment of cultural competence, to ensure that our organization is moving forward with our DEI goals.

  • Train staff using the Intercultural Conflict Style Inventory designed to improve communication and conflict resolution across cultures.

  • Train a small number of staff members as DEI Ambassadors, whose role is to offer peer support to other staff with their DEI goals. DEI Ambassadors also create DEI Learning Resources for staff to use as a part of their annual 40 hours of DEI training.

  • Create Employee Affinity Groups such as the Staff of Color Leadership Group, to provide staff members from underrepresented groups with the support networks and leadership opportunities they need to advance in their careers.

  • Require our candidate pools to achieve a set amount of racial diversity while hiring to ensure that we are recruiting staff of color.

  • Engage leadership staff in regular trainings about inclusion in recruitment and management practices, ensuring that they are creating an inclusive work environment for the staff they hire and supervise.


Accessibility & Inclusion

We implement programs, practices, and organizational policies that ensure that Girl Scouts is accessible for every family.

Actions & Activities
  • Our Anti-Racist Program Committee creates and offers Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access, and Racial Justice (DEI & RJ) program events to girl and adult members.

  • Conduct an audit of all member and volunteer policies to identify and remove white supremacist language. Policies are then revised to improve equity and inclusivity.

  • Improve the accessibility and inclusivity of all Girl Scouts River Valleys communications assets.

  • Conduct web accessibility study & make necessary updates.

  • Partner with Girl Scouts River Valleys' Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access, and Racial Justice Strategy Team to implement inclusive communications principles across all channels.

  • Provide translation of more communication assets.

  • Redesign recruitment materials to be inclusive of all troop pathways.