CoinWeek Interview with Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) CEO Anna Maria Chavez
by Louis Golino for CoinWeek ……
Summary of the creation of the 2012 Girl Scouts commemorative coin program:
- Oct. 15, 2009 House bill H.R. 621 passed, calls for minting of 350,000 silver dollars, which will be issued in early 2013
- Oct. 19, 2009 Senate bill S. 451 passed
- Oct. 29, 2009 President Obama signed legislation into law (Public Law 111-86, Girl Scouts USA Centennial Commemorative Coin Act)
- 2009-2012 CCAC and CFA review and approve design, receive input from the GSUSA, and the final design is later approved by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner
- Sept. 22, 2012 GSUSA launches coin design at Texas State Fair in Dallas
Interview with Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) CEO Anna Maria Chavez
Louis Golino – “I am sure CoinWeek readers would be interested to know what role the Girl Scouts of the USA played in creating the first girl scouts commemorative coin, the Girl Scouts of the USA Commemorative Silver Dollar. Did the initiative for the coin come primarily from the GSUSA, or more from the U.S. Congress?”
Anna Maria Chavez - “I am happy to talk with CoinWeek readers. The main impetus for the coin is the 100th anniversary of the Girls Scouts of America, which we have already started celebrating, and we will continue to focus on that. We are actually celebrating 100 years of girl scouting this year. The girl scouts commemorative coin is a result of many participants and partnerships, including the girl scouts themselves and alumni and supporters. The idea [for the coin –LG] came out of discussions with girl scouts themselves.
The birthplace of our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, was Savannah, GA, which is also where we have our historic archives. Rep. Jack Kingston, who represents the Savannah, GA area introduced the Girl Scouts Centennial Commemorative Coin Act of 2009, and two female Senators introduced bills [in the Senate -LG].
You may not know this, but we actually have a girl scouts troop on Capitol Hill, which is made up of current Senators who are alumni . Senator Susan Collins of ME and Senator Barbara Mikulski of MD introduced a bill which passed easily in the Senate in 2009 with over 300 co-sponsors in the House.
The girl scouts themselves played a huge role in making this happen. We engaged the whole country. We received over 40,000 messages sent to the members of congress from alumni, volunteers, parents, board members, etc. They wrote, they e-mailed, they called. Once the bill was signed President Obama signed the legislation into law in 2009 in the Oval Office with a group of girl scouts and First Lady Michelle Obama. Every first lady going all the way back to Mrs. Hoover has been an honorary president of the GSUSA.”
Ms. Chavez also noted that while the girl scouts themselves were involved in the process, the idea for the coin arose out of discussions between the GSUSA and Rep. Kingston.
LG- “I am curious about the fact that the coin will be issued in 2013, not 2012, since that would mark 100 years since the first girl scout troops were organized by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912. I believe 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the girl scout handbook. Did the GSUSA recommend that it be issued a year earlier? “
AC- “We are using the coin launch in 2012 to highlight the next century of girl scouting. It is a great way to highlight and symbolize our past. It is also a wise investment in girls. It’s very exciting. We have several important anniversaries coming up next year.”
LG- “Did the GSUSA recommend the same obverse and reverse designs to the Treasury secretary that were recommended by the CCAC [Citizens Coinage Advisory Commission] and CFA [Commission on Fine Arts]? I have the sense that unlike in other cases a consensus emerged fairly quickly on the coin’s design. [ Editors Note: According to news accounts, the only changes made to the designs following the recommendations of the CCAC and CFA dealt with the inscriptions on the coin.]
AC- “It was a great process. When you work with the U.S. Mint, you are allowed to provide information to their artists. We really took the opportunity to share specific information about girl scouts. We value diversity. The obverse design of the coin features girls of different ages and backgrounds. For us this was extremely important. For the reverse side the three words of our mission statement (courage, confidence, and character) are highlighted. Ten designs were created that were reviewed by the CCAC and CFA. We worked with them to provide historical perspective.” Ms. Chavez also explained that the trefoil design on the reverse of the coin is “our iconic symbol with the profiles of different female faces. We are very excited to see that it is on the coin as well.”
LG- “How have girl scouts and the GSUSA reacted to the news of the coin?”
Ms. Chavez explained that the girl scouts are very excited about the coin, especially after playing such an integral role in the coin’s creation. She added that: “We are unveiling the design on Saturday, September 22nd at the Texas State Fair Gala in Dallas, and 900 attendees will be there, including GSUSA National President Connie L. Lindsey. I will be there. We are really excited to unveil the design for the first time, especially since we have been working on this since 2009.” The coin will be issued on proof and uncirculated qualities. The obverse was designed by Artistic Infusion Program Master Designer Barbara Fox, and the reverse was designed by Associate Designer Chris Costello.
LG- “Ms. Chavez also noted that the coin will be sold beginning on early 2013. The U.S. Mint usually launches the first of its two annual coin programs in February, so I would expect the release to be then. I contacted the Mint for confirmation, but did not receive a response.”
AC- “This is a momentous occasion, and how special it is to have a commemorative coin, the first commemorative coin in the country dedicated to a girls’ organization.”
LG- “Can you tell us what the GSUSA will be doing to promote sales of the coins? Will you be selling the coin through your web site?” **
AC- “The GSUSA currently has 3.2 members in the U.S., as well as members in 92 countries. We will use the web and many other venues to promote sales of the 350, 000 coins. 112 local girl scout council partners will help sell the coin in girl scout shops. I predict we are going to sell out. My suggestion to your readers is to buy soon, and buy often. This is a rare opportunity marking 100 years of girl scouting, and a great way to invest in girls.”
Ms. Chavez also noted that as the U.S. economy becomes more complex we will need the assets and brain power of girls, and that “as adults we want the girl scouts to understand we are supporting their leadership journey.”
LG- “What GSUSA programs and activities will the $10 surcharge from the sale of each coin help fund?”
AC- “The legislation that authorized the minting of the coin designated that the surcharges will be used to fund program development and delivery, which is the core of our work, including developing programs on financial literacy and money, stem programs with science, technology, and math, healthy living, and global girl scouting. We want to make sure we remain relevant to girls ages 5-17. The surcharges will support current members and help increase the numbers of girls we can support across the globe.”
LG- “I am very encouraged by the fact that coin collecting appeals to young females today much more than it did when I was a boy and a cub scout. Are there any programs for girl scouts that are focused on coins such as preparing exhibits for coin clubs and coin shows?”
AC- “What I am really excited about is that this is something right up our alley. Girl scouts love to collect. We are natural collectors, and we love to collect things (such as uniforms and badges). In October 2011 we introduced a new inventory of 136 badges. Of those 13 are financial literacy badges, which is all about money, coins, including being a money manager, comparison shopping, credit, etc. We also have a new badge called “make your own badge,” where girls with special interests can design a badge based on the skills they have learned in that interest, such as coin collecting.
Again because the coin is so beautiful I think our girls will be very interested in it. It’s something parents may want to purchase for them or for themselves. We also hope that the coin will inspire more girls to collect coins. 3.2 million members, that is a huge amount to expose to coin collecting, which traditionally starts when people are young. This is a great thing for coin collecting.
Thank you for the chance to chat with you about an important opportunity for girl scouting today. My advice to your readers is buy, buy, buy!
This is a nice opportunity to focus on all the things girl scouts have done over the years such as being volunteers in their own communities. We would encourage everyone to go to the GSUSA web site (www.girlscouts.org) and see what they can do to support the GSUSA, including by purchasing the coin.”
CoinWeek would like to extend its gratitude to Anna Maria Chavez and the GSUSA for the opportunity to learn more about the new coin, its design, the work of the GSUSA, and the process of creating and launching it.
** The U.S. Mint will be the primary seller of these coins
Louis Golino is a coin collector and numismatic writer, whose articles on coins have appeared in Coin World, Numismatic News, and a number of different coin web sites. His column for CoinWeek, “The Coin Analyst,” covers U.S. and world coins and precious metals. He collects U.S. and European coins and is a member of the ANA, PCGS, NGC, and CAC. He has also worked for the U.S. Library of Congress and has been a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international affairs for a wide variety of newspapers and web sites.