Graham building stronger women through Girl Scouts

Kathy Graham was never a Girl Scout herself. But the Campfire Girls played a big part in the life of this Minnesota native. She became a Bluebird in third grade and worked her way up through the ranks of the organization until senior year of high school, learning lessons and new skills along the way.

“I definitely had just a wonderful, fulfilling experience as a young girl. It taught me a lot about the world,” Graham said.

Today, she’s dedicated to providing some of those same experiences for girls through Girl Scouts.

Graham is one of nine to join the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Board of Directors in November 2020. As a board member, Graham will help govern and build the local arm of this international organization and empower tomorrow’s women.

Graham first became involved with Girls Scouts as a leader for her two daughters. While her girls went on to explore other activities, Graham continued to support the organization personally and through her employer, US Bank. As senior vice president/senior portfolio manager at US Bank in Chicago, Graham brings decades of experience and expertise in the financial field to her role on the Girl Scout board, and as a member of the organization’s investment committee, she helps guide the organization’s financial choices.

Like the Campfire Girls of decades ago, today’s Girl Scouts go camping, hiking and canoing. They learn about science, citizenship and even how to be a good friend. While earning badges, taking trips, exploring science, getting outdoors, doing community service projects, and of course, selling cookies, today’s Girl Scouts learn leadership skills that will follow them throughout their lives.

Almost 45,000 girls and 19,000 adult members and volunteers throughout 245 communities in northeast Illinois and four counties in Indiana are impacted by Girl Scouts. Some 30 troops exist throughout Hinsdale, offering opportunities to girls from kindergarten through high school.

Encouraged by her employer’s commitment to the community, Graham also serves on the boards of Thresholds and Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School, as well as the Lurie Children’s Hospital Research Board, where she chairs the education committee.

“I really feel like the work I do helps make a difference,” she said.

As terms on some of those boards near their end, Graham said she plans to turn her focus more squarely on the Girl Scouts organization.

“I’m very excited about helping girls to realize their full potential,” she said.

Decades later, Graham said she still feels the effects of her years as a Campfire Girl. She can still build a fire and cook a meal over a campfire. And she keeps in touch with friends made around those campfires. Along with lifelong friends and unforgettable experiences, Graham said Campfire Girls, like Girl Scouts, prepared her for life.

“The greatest thing it built for me is confidence,” she said.

— story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean