A national search will soon begin for the replacement of Patricia Coghlan, who resigned, effective October 27, from her position as chief executive officer of the Girls Scouts of North Central Alabama.
“It has been my honor to work on behalf of the more than 15,000 girls and 5,000 volunteers who are the backbone of this council,” Coghlan said in her resignation statement.
In a letter to membership, Board President Dawn Stanley reported the resignation was due “to a shift in organizational direction.”
Local members report a handful of additional board resignations, shifting the board numbers in favor (11 to 9) of the grassroots organization that fought to save Camp Gertrude Coleman in Trussville from closing. Although the camp was not closed for sale on May 31, 2013, as was originally intended in the three-phase property plan created under Coghlan’s leadership, grassroots members are still looking for viable ways to reopen the camp for the girls and maintain its operation in the long term.
The shift comes, too, at a time when the national organization, Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) continues to battle ongoing lawsuits regarding pension plans and council turmoil over camp closures.
This week, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported, “Girl Scouts of the USA, plagued by continuing membership losses, has cut its national staff by about one-fourth in recent months, chopping 85 positions through voluntary buyouts and layoffs.”
Supporters of the grassroots organizations, similar to the local GSNCA outfit, have gathered strong support often using online message boards to circulate messages like this one, posted on dailykos.com:
GSUSA needs to return to the roots of what Juliette Low intended Scouting to be by officially adding the outdoors back into the National Girl Scout Program and handbooks and focus on providing an opportunity for girls to go camping and experience the outdoors as was intended a Scout would do.
Girl Scout camp is the best place to learn leadership skills, self-reliance, and the importance of teamwork, as well as develop an interest in STEM activities.
This sentiment is popular among the grassroots members who so strongly disagreed with Coghlan’s leadership.
Stanley, though, said that GSNCA is “grateful for the contributions and commitment that Trish has made to this organization. Under her leadership, among her many accomplishments, we saw growth in both membership and the annual Girl Scout Cookie Program. We respect her decision and look forward to what lies ahead for the organization in building upon the foundation we have in place.”
Sheila Smith, chief financial officer for GSNCA, will handle day-to-day operations until GSUSA provides an interim CEO.