Celebrating Black History Month: Meet Jakki Smith!

We are continuing our celebration of the fantastic work our Black Girl Scouts, members, and staff contribute to the movement. This week, we have the pleasure of introducing Jacqueline (Jakki) Smith, a current Regional Membership Manager at Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI)!

“My first encounter with Girl Scouts was at my church. Both of my daughters were interested, and I let them do their thing. At the time, the fifth grade Juniors were meeting with the Daisies and Brownies and being basically babysitters. I met young ladies that were going to quit [Girl Scouts] because they said it wasn’t fun for them.”

“At that moment, I said ‘Okay, let me see what I need to do.’ I had no idea what Girl Scouts was, I was never a Girl Scout, but my daughter enjoyed the program. And I became a leader overnight.”

“I know at the time it was optional for girls to have their uniforms, but not for me. I required the girls to wear [them] and we were always on point at council events. They would see all of these African American girls getting off this bus and they’re dressed from the top of their head to their toes. They wore their uniforms with such grace and pride.”

Jakki’s free-spirit allowed her and her Girl Scouts to make the most of the amazing programming opening up for Girl Scouts at the time, like the Studio 2B program, “which was such a trend-setting series for Cadettes. They were talking about the internet, about scholarship money, how to take care of their vehicles, how to budget, just life stuff you need to know.”

And her mentorship had a massive impact on the lives of the girls she led: “Out of the 40 girls [I had], over half of them received the Gold Award. They wanted to go as high as they could and they were very proud to be Girl Scouts. Still to this day, my daughter is thinking about coming back and being a troop leader. It was so rewarding for me to be a part of that foundation of helping girls identify who they are, to build that confidence, to see those skills in the workforce.”

For Jakki, being a role model to young African American girls was invaluable. “It is still a very fulfilling experience. It is rewarding to see the desire, the passion, has transferred to every girl. So to be able to touch my African American daughters and my Brown daughters, and all of the women of color, is powerful. I hope to inspire them to see the beauty of being different, to teach them that their voices are powerful, and we want to hear what they have to say.”

“Girl Scouts has always been a trendsetting organization, and I believe that’s one of the reasons I’m still with them, because we have loosened up and our eyes are open to all of the possibilities. We’re in this space of innovation and creation and it’s blowing everyone’s mind, this momentum and liberty and creativity.”

Thank you so much to Jakki for talking with us, sharing her story, and reinvigorating our mission.

Black History Month is just one month out of the year, but Black excellence and Black girl magic is something to be celebrated, cherished, and protected every single day. We remain committed to sharing and telling the stories of Black girls all year long.

Meet Girl Scout troop 65708, a troop dedicated to “making true-blue friends, saving the planet, standing up against stereotypes, and using their team power for the greater good.”
Meet Girl Scout volunteer Erica Cox from Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles and learn all about the Girl Scouts for Black Lives Instagram!
Meet Dr. Renee Matthews, leader in the healthcare industry, social media influencer, and Girl Scout champion.

Black Girl Magic

From taking civic action for social change to expanding access to clean air and water, to championing STEM education for marginalized populations, to addressing food insecurity, there’s no limit to what Girl Scouts can do—because they show us just that.

Read GSUSA’s blog to meet just a few of our Girl Scouts who are impacting their corner of the world in major ways to create a better place for us all.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We are asking for all Girl Scouts—girls, volunteers, alums, supporters, families, staff, and our suppliers and service providers—to commit to taking action to make the world a more equitable place. We have a lot of work to do—join usYou can start by signing the Girl Scout Anti-Racism Pledge.

Visit our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Page for more resources and ways to take action and take a stand.

Join the 21 Week Equity Challenge!

United Way of Grundy County and Will County are proud to join United Way of Illinois, and other local United Ways across the state to embark on the “21 Week Equity Challenge” and invites everyone to take this learning challenge.

This free, online learning program will provide lessons and resources for Illinoisans to learn about racial issues and systemic inequalities, together. The “21 Week Equity Challenge” encourages individuals, families, friends, and co-workers to have racial equity conversations to gain a deeper understanding of the impact systemic racism and inequality have on our state and in our local communities.

Learn more on their website.

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