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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



Former Chicago Girl Scouts CEO Brooke Wiseman to receive Luminary Award
by Jake Wittich

This article shared 9076 times since Fri Mar 22, 2024
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Brooke Wiseman, a now-retired nonprofit leader in the Chicago area, spent most of her career creating leadership development opportunities for girls and women—and making sure that hungry children could be fed.

While leading Girl Scouts of Chicago for 16 years, Wiseman, who is a lesbian, championed efforts to expand the program to reach girls in all parts of the region. She then went on to lead nonprofit Blessings in a Backpack, growing the organization's volunteer base to feed even more children.

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana will honor Wiseman's work when it presents her with its Luminary Award April 4 during its Tribute to Achievement celebration at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, 120 E. Delaware Pl.

"I'm thrilled to be able to accept this honor," Wiseman told Windy City Times. "Girl Scouts has been in my blood since I became a Brownie in 1956, so to come back all these years later and receive this award means a lot to me."

She started as Girl Scouts CEO in 1992, but her path to leadership of the youth development program goes back to her early days as a Brownie, she said.

"I was an only child, so it meant a lot to me as a kid to be a part of this group," Wiseman said. "It gave me an opportunity to feel like I was part of something."

Wiseman continued with Girl Scouts throughout her childhood, eventually attending a national conference for the program during her senior year of high school. That's where Wiseman realized she could make a career out of Girl Scouts.

She was a camp director for several years before landing her first job with Girl Scouts in Lansing, Michigan, where she worked with volunteers and supported new troops. She eventually came to the Chicago area and assumed leadership of the region's Girl Scout troops.

Wiseman said her proudest accomplishment as CEO was to expand Girl Scouts opportunities to reach more children across the Chicago area. She did this by making sure there were troops in all parts of the city, as well as in CHA housing, foster care and detention centers, Wiseman said.

"It was really important for me to make sure that every girl had an opportunity to be a Girl Scout, and learn those skills that I got," Wiseman said.

Part of making sure youth got those same opportunities involved creating Camp CEO, a multi-day excursion that brought girl scouts together with women mentors at camp, Wiseman said. During the program, youth could network and have frank conversations with adults about their career paths, lives and other experiences.

"This program is so transformational for girls," said Nancy Wright, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago & Northwest Indiana. "I talked to a girl at Camp CEO a few years ago who told me it was the best week of her life because it gave her an opportunity to think differently about herself and that she could be whoever she wants to be."

Wiseman retired from her post at Girl Scouts in 2008, going on to work for the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago from 2010-2012 and then Blessings in a Backpack, where she was CEO from 2012-2020.

Blessings in a Backpack is a national organization that provides elementary school kids who might otherwise go hungry with food on the weekends.

"When children go home from school on Friday, it's about 64 hours that they're away," Wiseman said. "But many kids rely on reduced lunch and breakfast programs in the school for their food, so our concept was to raise dollars and pack bags with food for children to take home on Friday afternoon."

Wiseman has mentored many young girls and women throughout her career, including Wright, she said.

Wright reached out to Wiseman when she was considering applying for her current role with Girl Scouts, and the two met up to discuss the job, she said. Since then, Wiseman has been an "amazing connector, mentor and friend."

"Being able to honor Brooke with this award is one of the biggest joys I will have had in my 10 years at Girl Scouts," Wright said.

Now retired, Wiseman spends her time on the board of the DuPage Symphony Orchestra and supporting causes to feed hungry children or support girls' in their development.

"I try to keep busy in the areas I've already been active in," Wiseman said. "I want to add value to what I can and help wherever I'm needed, which sounds like a Girl Scout to me."

This article shared 9076 times since Fri Mar 22, 2024
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