During the ongoing dispute between the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama (GSNCA) and the grassroots group vying to keep open camps and preserve traditional Scouting, the membership has often called for one thing: transparency.
A recent GSNCA faux pas involved former Girl Scout Woman of Distinction Cheryl Williams submitting a letter to AL.com that was nearly identical to an op-ed published in the March 19 Quad-City Times. Both the national and local councils have apologized — to Mark Ridolfi, writer of the original column, and now to the local membership.
Local Girl Scouts CEO Patricia Coghlan sent a letter of explanation and apology to members, reproduced here as recorded by Scout leader, Amber Ford.
May 16, 2013
A few weeks ago, Cheryl Williams expressed to GSNCA she wanted to help combat negative publicity we had received in regards to camp closings. GSUSA had recently shared with us an op-ed that helped a Girl Scout council in Iowa. It was our impression this was a template that had been used for another council, or written by the local council and shared for use by other councils, which is a common practice in our national organization.
We adapted the editorial, sent it to Ms. Williams and she submitted the piece on our behalf.
Upon realizing it was not a template or authored by the local council, GSUSA called the Iowa paper and apologized. After discussion with Ms. Williams, who was completely taken by surprise, she immediately requested The Birmingham News/al.com remove the editorial, which they did.
The Iowa paper has accepted GSUSA’s apology.
We also want apologize to you for this mistake and for our delayed response concerning this matter. Many of you know that our communications director was recently put on strict bed rest (due to her pregnancy with twins). There was a time period in which we were delayed in reaching her. This prevented us from gathering the details of this misunderstanding quickly.
We humbly apologize for the damage this has caused our organization, Mrs. Williams, you our members, our board, and our staff. We are working to repair the impact this has had in the media and the public and will keep you updated on our progress.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding.
Patricia (Trish) Coghlan, CEO