Thursday, March 29, 2012

GSNCA Elects Inaugural Girl Council

 Back Row: Grace, Ashlee, Zoë, Ayana, Juanita, Sarah, Katie
Front Row: Riva, Emma, Arianna, Paige, Darriah
The Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama recently elected 12 girls to its inaugural Girl Council, a representative body for older Girl Scouts, Cadettes through Ambassadors.

2012 Girl Council members are:
  • Zoë of Tuscaloosa, Junior, Troop 40002
  • Grace of Huntsville, Senior, Troop 10374
  • Riva of Mountain Brook, Senior, Troop 30231
  • Emma of Hoover, Senior, Troop 30190 
  • Sarah of Hoover, Senior, Troop 30190
  • Juanita of Birmingham, Cadette, Troop 30574
  • Darriah of Madison, Senior, Troop 10765
  • Arianna of Birmingham, Cadette, Troop 30203
  • Paige of Grant, Cadette, Troop 10548
  • Ayana of Birmingham, Ambassador, Troop 30208
  • Katie of Grant, Cadette, Troop 10548
  • Ashlee of Grant, Cadette, Troop 10548
During their term on the council, the girls will help plan older girl programs, create content for the new girl blog and newsletter, and provide submissions for the older girl Facebook group. “I’m looking forward to working with girls of different ages, backgrounds and ethnicities to help keep Girl Scouting fresh and exciting for older girls,” said Arianna.

About Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama
2012 is the Year of the Girl! To get involved, visit our 100th anniversary link at Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama is a United Way community partner and serves 15,300 girls ages 5-17 and 5,000 volunteers across 36 counties. For more information on becoming a member, volunteering or pathway opportunities, call 800-734-4541 or visit

Monday, March 12, 2012

Girl Scouts Launch ToGetHerThere Campaign Dedicated to Girls' Leadership

Girls think the workplace could support women more; Harder for women to succeed than men

Girl Scouts recently announced the launch of ToGetHerThere, the largest, boldest cause dedicated to girls’ leadership in the nation’s history. The multiyear effort seeks to create balanced leadership—equal representation of women in leadership positions in all levels of society—within one generation.

A new research study, ToGetHerThere: Girls’ Insights on Leadership, commissioned by GSUSA, reveals that while girls are generally optimistic about their futures, they still see glass ceilings in today’s society that will get in the way of achieving their leadership potential. The study, based on a survey of 1,000 girls ages 8–17, found for example that close to three in five girls think that a woman can rise up in a company but will only rarely be put in a senior leadership role. Additionally, more than one-third of girls say they wouldn’t feel comfortable trying to be a leader, and almost 40 percent are not sure they’re cut out to be a leader.

I do feel I miss out on opportunities because I'm a girl,” said Juanita January, 13, a 7th-grader at W. J. Christian K-8 School and a Cadette Girl Scout. “Sometimes boys and other peers laugh at me for being outspoken. That sometimes stops me and I slip back into the shy, little girl I use to be. I can miss out on grand opportunities because I do not try to open a new door.”

Sarah Gordon, a 16-year-old sophomore at Spain Park High School and Senior Girl Scout has strong feelings about girl leaders. “To know that women are overshadowed by men in the business world is more fitting for the 1950's, not for today. I think everyone has the potential for greatness, no matter who you are, and it is sad so few girls believe that concept. Leadership is something that should be encouraged more within the girl community.”

Obstacles to Leadership from a Girl’s Point of View
A crucial reason for girls’ distorted outlook on leadership may have something to do with their perception of environments as unsupportive of women leaders. The ToGetHerThere study noted that 81 percent of girls believe the workplace could do a better job of meeting the needs of female employees, and the majority of girls believe family responsibilities weigh women down more than men as they attempt to advance in their careers.

“The Girl Scout Research Institute found while the majority of girls think anyone can acquire the skills of leadership, only 21 percent believe they have key qualities required to be a good leader,” says Trish Coghlan, CEO of the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama. “Negative influences such as poor self-esteem, fear of speaking in front of others, appearing bossy, and peer pressure may cause girls to not assume leadership roles. We need to change that so girls can be better prepared to compete in the workforce. The ToGetHerThere campaign is a bold step in the right direction.”

The ToGetHerThere cause seeks to motivate all adult members of society—individuals, corporations, governments and likeminded organizations—to support girls. Adults who want to support the cause can visit for tools on how to be a part of this important movement.

About Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama
2012 is the Year of the Girl! To get involved, visit our 100th anniversary page at Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama is a United Way community partner and serves 15,300 girls ages 5-17 and 5,000 volunteers across 36 counties. For more information on becoming a member, volunteering or pathway opportunities, call 800-734-4541 or visit


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Meet Susan Bevill Livingston - 2012 Mildred Bell Johnson Award Recepient

Susan Livingston is an attorney in the Birmingham law firm of Balch & Bingham LLP. Her practice includes the negotiation of contractual arrangements, working with clients in the resolution of disputes and in finding practical business solutions. Her main areas of focus are coal and natural gas, construction of industrial facilities and retail electric service. She is a partner in the Energy Section and serves as chair for the Diversity Committee.

Livingston was honored as one of Birmingham Business Journal’s Top Birmingham Women in 2003, and one of the Girl Scouts of Cahaba Council’s Women of Distinction in 2004. She has served on the boards of the YWCA Central Alabama, Girl Scouts of North-Central ­Alabama and the Legal Aid Society of Birmingham. ­Livingston is a member of the Women’s Committee of 100, The Women’s Network and the Zonta Club of Birmingham.

Professionally, she is a member of the Alabama Law School Foundation Board, Alabama Law Institute and Board of the Women’s Section of the Birmingham Bar ­Association. Livingston is constantly developing her leadership skills and is a graduate of Leadership Alabama, Leadership Birmingham and the MOMENTUM women’s leadership program.

As a former troop leader, Livingston is thankful that Girl Scouts taught her the importance of serving others. “It gives one a sense of accomplishment and well-being, sometimes to the extent that you feel you are benefitting more than you are giving,” she shares. “Girl Scouts learn that at an early age.”

Though Livingston has been successful in her career and in the community, she counts her daughter, Elizabeth, who was also a Girl Scout, as her greatest accomplishment. Livingston is proud of her daughter’s self-sufficient spirit and is confident that she will grow into an adult who works to make our world a better place

Livingston  will be honored at the 2012 East-Central Women of Distinction on March 9. For more information, visit

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Meet Julia Harwell Segars - 2012 Frances E. Couch Award Recepient

Julia Harwell Segars currently serves as Vice President for the Eastern Division of Alabama Power Company, and is responsible for customer service operations and external affairs for a 12-county area of East Alabama. In previous roles, she has served as Chief Information Officer, workforce development manager, company magazine editor and media spokesperson. Segars graduated magna cum laude with a degree in journalism from The University of Alabama and served as a newspaper reporter before joining Alabama Power in 1986 as a writer.

Segars’ civic involvement includes serving on the boards of the McClellan Development Authority, Calhoun County Economic Development Council, Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, Anniston Museum of Natural History Endowment Board, and the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind Foundation. She currently serves as president of the Jacksonville State University Foundation and serves on the Alabama Women’s Commission, YMCA-Calhoun; and she is a member of the Anniston Rotary, Calhoun County’s Women’s Executive Network, and Etowah County’s First Friday Forum for executive women. She is a founding director and current chairman of G.E.T.T. Moving East Alabama, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting progress across Calhoun County. Segars is a graduate of the International Women’s Forum Leadership Foundation fellows program and MOMENTUM, a women’s leadership program.

Segars is most proud to have leveraged her talents and professional success to advance the development of young women, who she says, “need to know that they can reach their dreams and are worthy of them.”

The most valuable lesson Segars has learned through Girl Scouting and service to the community is, “Goals are more likely to be reached, and the product most definitely enriched, through the contributions of a team with a variety of viewpoints and skill sets. Everyone needs help and has something to offer.” 

Segars will be honored at the 2012 East-Central Women of Distinction on March 9. For more information, visit

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Meet Tina Savas - 2012 Woman of Distinction

Tina Savas created the Birmingham Business Journal, which changed the business landscape in Birmingham. The BBJ opened up the community with in-depth ­business news never seen before. She also started the awards program, “Top 40 Under 40,” to bring people together for recognition, which has since spread across the country in many other business publications.

Savas is currently an author, speaker and entrepreneur. She co-authored the book, Women of True Grit, and makes presentations around the country sharing her ideas on how women can be successful in business.

In 1997, Savas was awarded the Women’s Business Ownership Council Award Recognition, and in 1999 she was awarded Top Birmingham Woman.

The most valuable lesson she has learned through service to the community is, “We are meant to help each other; otherwise, we would each have our own planet. Seems to me that it’s up to us to take care of our community and everyone in it if we ever want to find peace and happiness.” 

Savas will be honored at the 2012 East-Central Women of Distinction on March 9. For more information, visit

Meet Carol Thompson Savage - 2012 Woman of Distinction

Carol Savage is the former executive director for the Walker Area Community Foundation, having recently retired in December 2011. She counts the foundation’s establishment and development as one of her greatest accomplishments, along with helping start a free clinic in Jasper for the medically uninsured people of Walker County, where she now serves on the board.

Savage has also served as a board member for Alabama Giving, an ad hoc organization of community foundations from around the state. Her most recent role was guiding the foundation to create a center for the history, arts and culture of the people of Walker County—the Bankhead House and Heritage Center. She was named the Daily Mountain Eagle’s Newsmaker of the Year 2005.

Savage credits Girl Scouting with encouraging her to overcome her fears as an introverted young girl by selling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door in her neighborhood. “Never underestimate the lifelong impact that Girl Scouting has on little girls,” she reveals. 

Savage will be honored at the 2012 East-Central Women of Distinction on March 9. For more information, visit

Meet Leigh Davis Perry - 2012 Woman of Distinction

Leigh Davis Perry leads the largest corporate foundation in the state as Vice President of Charitable Giving for Alabama Power Company, president of the Alabama Power Foundation and executive director of the Alabama Business Charitable Trust. Perry considers her proudest accomplishment to be the ability to bring innovative ideas to her workplace while empowering those around her to develop their skills and abilities as leaders.

Perry is active in the community and is a graduate of Leadership Birmingham, Leadership UAB, YWCA’s ­MOMENTUM and Project Corporate Leadership. In 2008, she was recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 by the ­Birmingham Business Journal.

Perry has many fond memories of being a Girl Scout, building confidence and courage while having lots of fun. She shares a quote from Golda Meir that reminds her of these invaluable lessons. “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you would be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by ­fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into the flames of achievement.” 

Perry will be honored at the 2012 East-Central Women of Distinction on March 9. For more information, visit

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meet Dr. Dannetta K. Thornton Owens - 2012 Woman of Distinction

Dr. Dannetta K. Thornton Owens, President & CEO of Kennon Family Investments & Properties, is a distinguished member of our community. As a former educator, with an undergraduate degree in modern foreign languages, she had a profound influence on one of her more well-known students, Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Dr. Thornton Owens has played a key role in many local organizations focusing on the improvement of education and quality of life of youth, especially girls.

Her civic contributions include serving as board member of the United Way of Central Alabama, Wake Forest University, UAB English Advisory Board and The Women’s Network. Dr. Thornton Owens has received numerous awards of distinction. Most recently, the library at the new Parker High School was named in her honor.

As a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts and former board member of the Cahaba Girl Scout Council, Dr. Thornton Owens has learned it is in giving that one receives. She is most proud of being a mother and raising her son and daughter to become accomplished individuals who value contributing to their respective communities.

“It’s hard for me to sit while the music is playing,” she says. “I have always tried to rise and dance when the music starts to play. I hate sitting on the sidelines of life.”

Dr. Thornton Owens will be honored at the 2012 East-Central Women of Distinction on March 9. For more information, visit

Meet Joanne Hightower - 2012 Woman of Distinction

Joanne Hightower serves as the executive director for the United Way of Etowah County. She counts her career as her proudest accomplishment due to the opportunity it gives her to serve others on a daily basis.

Since moving to the Gadsden area in 1994, Hightower has served in many leadership roles, such as president of VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster), chairman of the Gadsden Area as well as member of the State Board of Directors for APSO (Alabama Power Service Organization), president-elect of the Gadsden Rotary Club and secretary of United Way of Alabama.

Having followed three older brothers involved in Boy Scouts, Hightower was thrilled to begin her Girl Scout journey in 1964 when she became a Brownie in Clinton, Tenn. As she learned the Girl Scout Promise and spoke the phrase, “to help people at all times,” she realized the value of community service. Hightower says, “Although the uniform has changed, the values that Girl Scouts represents will serve any Woman of Distinction yesterday, today or tomorrow.” 

Hightower will be honored at the 2012 East-Central Women of Distinction on March 9. For more information, visit  

Meet Kathryn D. Harbert - 2012 Woman of Distinction

Kathryn D. Harbert has touched many philanthropies and community agencies with her generosity and leadership. She has been involved with the YWCA Central Alabama for 19 years; she currently serves as president of the board of directors and recently co-chaired the YWCA’s Capital Campaign, raising close to $15 million.

Harbert has also worked with cultural arts organizations such as Red Mountain Theatre Company, the Birmingham Museum of Art and Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and is a member of the Junior League of Birmingham.

She says her most valuable lesson learned through service to the community is, “That to whom much is given, much is expected,” which she learned from her mother.
“If you are grateful of all that you have, then you will also be joyful and have the desire to help others.“

Harbert loves to sing and dance and has been a member of the Junior League ­Choral Group for 24 years. 

Harbert will be honored at the 2012 East-Central Women of Distinction on March 9. For more information, visit

Friday, March 2, 2012

Meet Lisa R. Engel - 2012 Woman of Distinction

Lisa Engel has been an outstanding volunteer leader for both The Birmingham Jewish Federation and Birmingham Jewish Foundation. She is the first person in The Federation’s history to receive both the Joanie Plous Bayer Young Leadership Award and Susan J. Goldberg Distinguished Volunteer Award, The Federation’s two highest honors. She is a past Federation campaign chair and serves currently as co-chair of its Jewish Community Relations Coalition and vice president of The Birmingham Jewish Foundation. She was a catalyst in the creation of the Birmingham Jewish Federation’s partnership with their Israeli sister city, Rosh Ha’ayin.

In addition to her active role in the Jewish community, Engel has served on the boards of Indian Springs School and Oasis Counseling, and currently serves on the boards of the Alys Stephens Center, as well as The Women’s Fund, where she served as co-chair of the new Domestic Sex Trafficking of Minors committee last year.

Through Girl Scouting and community service, she has learned to “let others shine” while working together. Earning badges as a Girl Scout, she could not work alone—she had to collaborate with others toward a common goal. Engel believes, “It is by working together that we truly move communities forward.” 

Engel will be honored at the 2012 East-Central Women of Distinction on March 9. For more information, visit

Meet Mariah Nowlin Chapman - 2012 Woman of Distinction

For the past nine years, Mariah Chapman has served as Senior Vice President for BBVA Compass, effectively leading many areas of the bank’s Treasury Management Operations. She was recognized by the bank with the coveted CIO Award for excellence in job performance.

Chapman’s outstanding civic contributions include serving on the boards for the Episcopal Diocese of Jefferson County and Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama; she has chaired committees for the American Cancer Society Gala Live Auction, last year’s Women of ­Distinction Luncheon for the Girl Scouts, and the American Heart ­Association Holiday Luncheon and Fashion Show.

In addition to showing leadership in her career and through community service, Chapman demonstrates how family can remain her key focus. Her proudest accomplishment is raising her three daughters to be strong, happy, independent women. “I firmly believe that I’m making the world a better place through my influence on my children,” she says. 

Chapman will be honored at the 2012 East-Central Women of Distinction on March 9. For more information, visit

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Meet Neeysa Davis Biddle - 2012 Woman of Distinction

After 47 years in the medical field, Neeysa Biddle recently retired as Executive Vice President and COO for St. Vincent’s Health System. She is most proud of the opportunity to mentor and train young executives during the last 25 years of her career. As an adjunct professor in the School of Health Professions at UAB, she was a preceptor to graduating seniors in the Masters in Health Administration program. Biddle is currently responsible for designing and implementing Ascension Health’s national Leadership Academy, scheduled to launch in May 2012

The most valuable lesson Biddle learned from Girl Scouting was when she learned the song, “Make New Friends, But Keep the Old.” Little did she know when she was dutifully singing it every week what its strong message would come to mean. Biddle is a former board member of Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama. 

Biddle will be honored at the 2012 East-Central Women of Distinction on March 9. For more information, visit

Meet Stephanie Hill Alexander - 2012 Woman of Distinction

In her current position, Stephanie Alexander oversees community relations for Honda Manufacturing of Alabama and is deeply committed to helping others whenever she can. She organized tornado relief efforts after the April 2011 storms hit her community. Alexander also volunteered with more than two dozen Honda employees in January 2011 to help build a quarter-mile oyster reef in Mobile Bay as part of the Restore Coastal Alabama project.

She has served on the boards of Oasis Counseling, Pathways and The Nature Conservancy; Alexander is also a sustaining member of the Junior League of Birmingham.

One of the most valuable lessons Alexander has learned through service to the community is to work hard to develop yourself to be all that you desire, and always remember to help others by sincerely providing motivation and encouragement.

Alexander will be honored at the 2012 East-Central Women of Distinction on March 9. For more information, visit