By Alison Bailin
In August, Scottsdale resident Christina Spicer was announced as co-chief executive officer of Girl Scouts – Arizona Cactus-Pine Council.
In her role, Spicer and co-CEO Mary Mitchell will work to maintain, establish and grow key partnerships within the government and community; continue to make diversity, equity, inclusion and racial justice an organizational priority; and provide strategy and vision to council’s staff, 6,500 adult volunteers and 11,000 girls grades K-12 in more than 90 communities across central and northern Arizona.
“We want to ensure that our girls are supported and empowered to be unapologetically themselves as they discover their strengths and rise to meet new challenges while helping build a better world,” says Spicer, who has worked for the council since 2014, most recently as interim co-CEO.
Spicer and Mitchell take over the CEO role from Tamara Woodbury, who is retiring after leading the organization since 1993, though the Lifetime Girl Scout continued in an emeritus role through September 30.
“To work with Tamara for the last eight years has been a privilege, and I have great love and respect for her,” Spicer says.
“She has shaped and changed the lives of so many girls and women in this community. In fact, over the course of her Girl Scout career in Arizona, we have served over 500,000 girls under her leadership, which is an incredible accomplishment. She was asked to serve on the city of Phoenix Youth Commission and the Phoenix Mayor’s Small Schools Task Force to be a leading advocate for Girl Scouting in our community. Her authentic passion and commitment to the movement is inspiring.
“She has the ability to see people’s gifts and talents and encourages them to make the world a better place. I have been able to call Tamara a teacher, mentor and friend. It is an honor to carry the torch of the Girl Scout mission.”
Spicer not only brings eight years of on-the-job knowledge about the Girl Scouts to the role, but a lifetime of experience and lessons learned.
Spicer was diagnosed dyslexic as a child and grew up in a single-parent household touched by mental illness.
By middle school, Spicer had a life-threatening eating disorder.
“The illness grew so strong that I was hospitalized twice as a teen,” Spicer says. “It took my mother — a fierce Latina — to help me fight back.”
Her healing became a turning point in her personal life and served as the first step in what has been a lifetime of healing herself and others.
“Once in recovery, my eighth grade P.E. class planned a lesson on eating disorders,” Spicer says. “Uninspired by the lesson, I asked the teacher if I could get up in front of the class to share my personal story of survival.”
The story was so powerful, Spicer spent the next five years visiting high schools statewide sharing her story with other teens.
“After graduating ASU in 2003 — the first in my family to ever graduate college — I wanted to keep making a difference where I could, so I took a position with notMYkid, which provides children and families with truly lifesaving programs, support, resources and education,” Spicer says.
“I worked with the Clear Choices program within the organization.”
Through the program, Spicer helped others share the worst things they’ve ever felt or done — as she did with her eating disorder story — so that they could put said experiences in a metaphorical box and begin the healing process while helping others heal and grow, too.
“Before making my way to Girl Scouts, I also had the opportunity to found my own organization, CAMEO,” Spicer says.
The women’s mentoring organization, which stands for Caring and Mentoring Each Other, empowers females outside of job titles and educational achievements. Spicer also earned her master’s degree at ASU in 2008, became a founding member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, took part in Valley Leadership Class 28 and was named to the 40 Under 40 class of 2022.
Joining the Girl Scouts
“In 2014, I had lunch with Tamara Woodbury to talk about joining GSACPC as a board or committee member,” Spicer says.
“A few months later, I was accepting a full-time position within the organization, and Tamara became my mentor.”
Together with Woodbury and Mitchell, over the next eight years, Spicer and the council set some lofty goals, achieving them despite sometimes seemingly insurmountable odds, notably the pandemic.
“We have grown our annual fund from $600,000 to $4 million, and on top of that completed the Campaign for Girls capital campaign,” Spicer says.
“Through the campaign, we were able to build and open The Bob & Renee Parsons Leadership Center for Girls and Women at Camp South Mountain with the Girl Scouts ADA-accessible year-round urban program center with camp appeal.”
The center increases the local council’s capacity to serve more girls with relevant programming, from aquatics to STEM, year-round.
“The goal of Campaign for Girls was to provide the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to more girls throughout the state, including those who come from underserved communities,” Spicer says.
“The Parsons Leadership Center is a testament to what we stand for, so much more than camp and cookies. We provide girls with relevant programming that builds confidence and allows our girls to learn and grow in a supportive environment, all year long.”
Beyond this, they led the first Day of the Girl, which raised $1 million for the council, and navigated through COVID-19, managing to continue programming (virtual as needed) and the cookie program while ensuring the safety of all Girl Scouts and their families.
Earlier in 2022, Spicer and her team along with partner State Forty Eight Foundation innovated a wholly new event in the Bring the Cookies Home 5K. It was so successful, it is now officially a regular annual event.
“And we are only getting started. I am humbled to be part of this incredible movement that serves Arizona girls. Just wait to see what we do next,” Spicer says.
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