Bites of Wisdom from Smart Cookies

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As Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana gets ready for the annual “Smart Cookies Make a Difference” breakfast on September 12 CEO Maria Wynne was able to catch up with a few of the Smart Cookies being honored that day. They are…Katrina Markoff, owner, Vosges Haut-Chocolat, Therese Fauerbach, president/CEO, The Northridge Group and Christine O’Reilly, senior director of community relations, Chicago White Sox; executive director, Chicago White Sox Charities.

These influential women shared a little insight on how they climbed to the top of their game so quickly. Here’s a quick peek at the secret behind their success:

When did you first realize you were a Smart Cookie?
Katrina: My mom knew before anyone! I believe that is how I became what you consider a Smart Cookie. I have always had a positive, encouraging influence in my mother and the other women in my life. They made me believe that I could accomplish anything, all you have to do is try.

Christine: [Being] named Director of Community Relations [for the Chicago White Sox] was a defining moment. I had no specific education or training in the field but I knew I was going to be successful.  I did not doubt my ability to do the job.  I knew I had a network of professionals that would serve as valuable resources and that by surrounding myself with compassionate and driven staff, success would surely follow.

What gives you confidence to make the kinds of decisions you must make at the end of the day?
Christine: Having a firm understanding of our organization’s goals and mission – and believing in them – coupled with compassion and being open-minded on the perspective of others gives me the confidence I have in my decision making.

Therese: I pride myself in knowing my strengths and weaknesses. If I have to make a decision in an area I feel weak, I get advice from someone with strength in that area.

What was your greatest act of courage?
Katrina: Not taking the typical journey after college and cooking school. I did not end up in a renowned restaurant as everyone expected. I created one chocolate about one culture that lead to the mission of peace, love and chocolate [and] inspiring one to interact with the world in a different way.

Therese: Leaving what had been a stable career with a large enterprise to start my own business, where I had to chart my own path and the future was uncertain.

The corporate leaders and entrepreneurs among the elite “Smart Cookies” serve as exemplary role models for today’s girls.  While this year’s honorees are diverse in their professional and personal backgrounds, they share at least one thing in common: tremendous determination driving each of them to be courageous, strong leaders. All of us – Girl Scouts and grown-up Girl Scouts – can learn from that.

Our council has launched the “Smart Cookies Make a Difference” program as an opportunity to share bites of wisdom from inspirational leaders.  Elevating these types of role models for girls to emulate gives us – gives me – the confidence in knowing we are building a future of strong leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, and more.  These are the girls who will be standing on the shoulders of their preceding sister Girl Scouts, always looking ahead and making the world a better place.

Join moderator (and TCW’s own) Sherren Leigh as we uncover even more details behind how these Smart Cookies rose to the top!

Who: More than 400 friends and supporters of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana
What: “Smart Cookies Make a Difference” Fundraising Breakfast
When: Thursday, September 12, at 7:30AM
Where: Palmer House Hilton
Why:  To honor and celebrate those who have changed the rules of the game for girls

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About Maria Wynne

Maria Wynne is CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, the largest Girl Scout council in the world. The council brings leadership development opportunities to more than 84,000 girls ages 5-17 and 24,000 volunteers across six Illinois counties and four Indiana counties. As CEO, Ms. Wynne is focused on bringing attention to the need to invest in girls by funding experiences that prepare girls for their 21st Century roles as global citizens and leaders.