Each month we’ll feature a Q&A with one of the commissioners of the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. February’s feature: Danielle Shockey
Q: As CEO of the Girl Scouts of Indiana, why is it important for the state to mark the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage?
A: The mission of Girl Scouts is to “build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.” When Girl Scouting was founded in 1912, women in the United States did not even have the right to vote. Many of the early Girl Scout leaders were active in the suffrage movement, including Mary Rafter, leader of the first troop established in Washington, D.C., in December 1913. Since that time, civic engagement and taking action has continued to be a core value in our Girl Scout organization. In fact, at every age of Girl Scouts, from a Girl Scout Daisy who’s in kindergarten to a 12th grade Girl Scout Ambassador, there are badges that can be earned by learning about civic action, our democracy and in getting out to vote.
It may be of no surprise that 72 percent of current female senators, more than half of the 106 women currently in the House of Representatives and all female secretaries of state in U.S. history are Girl Scout alum.
This commemoration and perhaps more importantly multifaceted education of such significant moments in history that benefited women, including the inequities that existed at the passage of the 19th Amendment, are important lessons not only for our Girl Scouts to learn, but all Americans. I am proud to be on a Commission that will bring emphasis to this and work to create a legacy that elevates the contributions of Hoosier women and men who were instrumental in the process of ratifying the 19th Amendment.
Q: How would you encourage Hoosiers from all walks of life to promote and celebrate this important milestone in our state and nation’s history?
A: This is an opportunity for all Hoosiers, in particular our youngest Hoosiers, to learn that the voice of the people matters, and taking action is not only our right, but our responsibility. Taking action comes in many forms, such as high-level involvement like the suffragettes, to involvement through voting— but inaction is not an option. And maybe above all else, I would like for every Hoosier to learn a little from Girl Scouts to be courageous, be confident, have strong character and make the world a better place!
Q: Who is a woman who has inspired you in your life and/or career?
A: I don’t know if there is one woman as much as there is a collection of characteristics that have inspired me. In every stage of my life, there have been extraordinary women whom I am drawn to, from Superintendent Glenda Ritz to Shelly Fitzgerald, and most recently, Gold Award Girl Scout Sophie Quick. So, if I draw a line backwards to those women who have inspired me, the connecting characteristic is that they all stood up for something they believed in, they listened then took action— not only by directing, but by rolling up their sleeves and jumping in. They were unphased by obstacles and they positively found the way to get things done for the better for their community, whether that be a school community, a neighborhood or a state.
Q: What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
A: At Girl Scouts, we are all about practicing everyday leadership, preparing girls to empower themselves, and promoting G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) experiences. Our inclusive, girl-led, all female environment of a Girl Scout troop creates a safe space in which girls can try new things, develop a range of skills, take on leadership roles and feel comfortable failing, dusting themselves off and trying again! Girl Scouts know that leadership isn’t defined just by who someone is or what someone wants to be, but by what someone does. If we want more leaders, we need more Girl Scouts.
I would encourage the next generation to get outside their comfort zones and try new things. You’ll never know the kind of leader you may become if you don’t step forward. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you. Learn from your mistakes and try again. And join Girl Scouts!