Sunday, February 28, 2021

Alum Spotlight: Meet Jen McGowan!

Meet Girl Scout Alum and Gold Award Jen McGowan. She's celebrating 30 years in Girl Scouts this year, 12 as a girl and 18 as an adult! As a girl, she started as a Brownie in Norfolk (later moved to Virginia Beach) and was a member of Greater Tidewater Girl Scout Council, a council that merged in 1981 with Heritage Girl Scouts to form GSCCC. 

Many of our blog readers may know her, since she served as the Council's program director for many years, and then as membership director. She helped plan hundreds of programs, with the 100th anniversary ones hosted in 2012 being the most memorable. 

She is now the Virginia Beach School's Coordinator of School and Community Partnerships, connecting businesses and organizations to Virginia Beach schools to support students, staff and families.  

"Due to the pandemic, my skills have been put to use to secure items our students need," Jen said. " These are items that support student learning - everything from food, shelter and clothing to school supplies, headphones and other necessities to enhance the learning experience." 

She earned her Gold Award in 1987. For her project, she created an illustrated child-care guide for illiterate mothers.  During the course of the project, she learned that babies were unnecessarily being admitted to CHKD because these new moms didn’t know how to read the packaging for child-care items like formula and medication.  She then presented the books via illustrated talks locally and at the state level.  The books were being used at CHKD right up until she started working there in the early 1990’s!


Jen has always loved working with people and using her excellent communication skills. While still in high school, she started a business called Leisure Promotions, where she delivered brochures to the oceanfront. She kept the business going through college. She says she definitely put skills she learned from the Cookie Program into practice!  


After graduating college and earning a BS degree with a concentration in Human Resources, she worked at CHKD for a decade, first in the ER and later as a Senior Budget Analyst.  


"I used ALL of my Girl Scout skills in my last position as a Director with GSCCC, first as Program Director, overseeing camp, partnerships, a childcare program, weekend activities, higher awards and of course cookies!  Just prior to leaving I was again in sales as the Membership Director." 

Jen is the proud mother of a Gold Award Girl Scout, Baillie McGowan and her mom, too, earned the highest award as a girl in the movement, First Class! 

"Girl Scouts is a family tradition and it has added so much to the relationship I have had with both my mom and my daughter," Jen said. "We have so many memories to go back to that continue to create warmth in all our hearts."