Girl Scout Leadership Institute

What happens when you combine the Athena Center for Leadership Studies’ newly developed Athena CORE10 methodology, a unique set of 10 core competencies specifically developed for women leaders, and the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, a model based on three keys to leadership––discover, connect and take action? The Girl Scouts Leadership Institute is born!


The Girl Scout Leadership Institute

For 22 years, the Girl Scouts of Greater New York has conducted a successful Scholars Program, a college and career exploration initiative that has pushed thousands of NYC girls to enroll in and graduate from top colleges and universities. In Version 2.0 of this effort, GSGNY added a new focus on girls’ leadership. They tapped the Athena Center to create a new model of excellence.

The Girl Scout Leadership Institute was specially designed to help Girl Scouts in grades 9 through 12 from the five boroughs unlock their leadership potential. The goal was to foster a new generation of leaders who act with courage, confidence, and character to drive systemic change and reform in their communities.  

Through a competitive admissions process, Girl Scouts identified a diverse group of 50 high school girls to participate in an 8-day Entrepreneurship Summer intensive, July 14th-24th. This facet of the program focuses on providing a transformative immersion into the world of ethical and effective entrepreneurship. These talented high school students were guided through the process of creating an idea for a socially responsible business and worked in small teams to develop their ventures. They gained critical problem-solving skills as marketers, storytellers, public speakers and first-time entrepreneurs.  

In addition to the Entrepreneurship Summer Intensive, the Girl Scout Leadership Institute included a school-year program that focused on developing a wide range of leadership skills and exposing young women to dynamic role models and committed mentors. The scouts were expected to create their own independent projects and be able to vie for seed money for those take-action projects, as well as competitive internships and global travel opportunities. 


The 2014 GSLI Entrepreneurship Summer Intensive

50 girls attended the 2014 GSLI Summer Intensive, a transformative 8-day program where they learned to design, develop, market and pitch a socially responsible business to notable startup community leaders. They worked in small teams to get ventures off the ground that examined problems in need of solutions while also engaging their existing skills and interests. They were mentored by experienced entrepreneurs and educators passionate about promoting women-owned startups.

Meet Our Instructors and Pitch Panelists

The series of workshops ranged from Product Design and Development to Getting Funded and Business Naming; each providing insight into entrepreneurship and helping students become successful first-time entrepreneurs themselves. Workshop highlights included:

●  Storytelling, helped students learn how the craft of storytelling can be leveraged to tell the story of their business in a fun and compelling way. It was lead by Michaela Murphy, a playwright, digital storyteller and social media guide whose clients include Estee Lauder and Microsoft, among others, and who has been featured on NPR, the Moth Mainstage, and the Clinton White House.

●  Customer Analysis and Product Design, was where students learned strategies for designing a business idea that was rooted in a deep understanding of the needs of their target audience or customer. Sessions were led by instructors Dominque Aubry, President of Lean Leadership, Inc. and Adam Berk, founder of neigh*borrow and formally of the Lean Startup Machine, which trains entrepreneurs around the world in a scientific process to create successful companies.

●  Getting Funded, was where students learned to build a financial plan for the launch and ongoing survival of their businesses and how to clearly communicate financial needs to potential funders. This session was led by Angela Lee, an entrepreneur and angel investor who is co-founder of 37 Angels, a community of women angel investors.

The program also included field trip days with visits to start-up companies Levo League, MakerBot, ZinePak, and ZocDoc. At the end of the program, students practiced effectively communicating their ideas with top entrepreneurs and investors during the culminating Pitch Fest, July 24th.

During the 8-day program, the two organizations worked to build future leaders, and plant the seeds of entrepreneurship for the future.


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