In central Maryland National S’mores Day signals the countdown to the annual Cookie Sale, when in just a matter of weeks Girl Scout cookie fans can start ordering the S’mores Cookie and other favorites including Thin Mints, Carmel deLites and Lemonades! For most Girl Scouts, participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program is an opportunity to learn and sharpen their financial literacy and business skills. Our young Girl Scout entrepreneurs will utilize these skills for the rest of their lives. Throughout the coming weeks we will share stories of some local successful business women who are also Girl Scout alumna, as well as profiles of local Girl Scouts who are cookie sellers extraordinaire. You will see why Girl Scouts has been touted a key driver of workforce development for women for over a century.
Tanya Spann Roche
Writer. Producer, Editor & Emmy® Award Winner
Honors & Awards: Telly and Emmy Award recipient
Think Speak Act, LLC
Green Video Production Services
1) What of your Girl Scout experience is most memorable?
What I most remember about Girl Scouts is the feeling of friendship and adventure. I learned to water ski and sail at Girl Scout summer camp, I went snow skiing and camping with my troop, and I made wonderful friends that I still have today. I also had an incredible experience with my mother as our troop leader. She never had the opportunity to be a Girl Scout when she was young, but she became our troop leader while we were juniors and worked very hard to help us have a great troop experience. My mom was one of the first female computer programmers and an entrepreneur, and I think she really understood what Girl Scouts could do for young girls. She and I also attended many Leader-Daughter camping weekends that were a great time to learn from others and work together in a unique environment.
2) Do you believe you learned skills as a Girl Scout that have helped you succeed in college or the work place?
Looking back, I realize that I gained a lot of confidence in myself and my ability to lead through Girl Scouts. I learned so many practical skills through our fun experiences, but at the same time I was gaining life skills with every activity. Not only can I build a fire, cook over it, pack for a hike, administer first aid, sew, hold a flag ceremony, and ride a horse, but I can also engage customers, track sales, set up a fundraiser, break a project down into steps, delegate workload, manage a team, plan an event, and appreciate the value of volunteering and mentoring.
3) In retrospect, do you believe the girl-only space created in Girl Scouts was helpful or empowering to you?
The girl-only space created in Girl Scouts taught me to judge and value myself and others by a set of standards that is very different from what girls unfortunately see in pop culture and feel from peer pressure. Being honest, fair, caring, respectful, responsible, courageous, strong, and helpful are powerful traits that really do make the world a better place. Being with a troop of girls traveling on the same journey was incredibly empowering, especially when dealing with school or social stresses. Having a place to meet and plan a camping weekend, field trip or service project was both fun and made me feel like a valued member of an amazing team. Now as a mom, when my daughter comes home upset about bullying, I find myself saying, “That’s what’s great about Girl Scouts – mean girls don’t join or stay in it very long.”
4) Do you believe girl-only spaces created by all-girl organizations like Girl Scouts is important?
The girl-only atmosphere of Girl Scouts is a very powerful space. As young girls, we’re allowed to have a voice in every part of our troop meetings and take the lead during a variety of activities. I see with my own kids that boys tend to take over a meeting and often girls will hang back, whether out of politeness or shyness. As the leader of my daughter’s Brownie troop, I see the girls learn to work with each other, make decisions, listen to each other’s ideas, feel proud of their achievements, and enjoy a sense of sisterhood. As they get older, a girl-only space will give them a welcome break from the social pressures of clothing, makeup and dating. You can go camping and have fun and not worry about what the boys in the other cabin are doing.
5) What do you believe are the most important skills or characteristics you gained from Girl Scouts?
I think the confidence and willingness to stand up for myself and others is one of the most important characteristics I learned from Girl Scouts. I know that my ideas have value, my emotions are valid, my achievements are worthwhile, my skills are useful, and I can do and be anything I want to as long as I work hard at it. I work in film and video production, which is an extremely male-dominated field, and having the confidence to assert my professional technical opinions and defend my creative choices is invaluable in working with clients and colleagues. I also refuse to let anyone push others around, from kids on the playground to bullies in the workplace.
6) Do you believe Girl Scouts is still relevant today?
I think Girl Scouts is just as relevant today as it ever has been. Even though girls have many opportunities today that they have not had before, they also have so many more pressures and influences that can negatively impact them as well. I am the leader for my daughter’s Brownie troop, and I realize the incredible opportunity I have to help these young women discover, connect and take action on anything they want to learn about, pursue and change. Working with my Brownies at meetings, on field trips and camping, I love teaching them practical and outdoor skills, introducing them to marketing and money concepts with cookies, and exploring new opportunities and our community with them. As a side entrepreneur project, I created a Safety Bandana that includes first aid, outdoor safety, weather, camp fire, shelter, food, water, and getting found tips, plus a list of backpack essentials, to give scouts a quick reference when they are out hiking and camping (www.safetybandana.com). It also includes how to identify poisonous plants and so many of the things I tell my troop to think about when we are outdoors.
7) What professional honors, awards or certificates have you received?
I am a video producer, writer and editor, and after working for Nickelodeon Studios Florida and running the US Department of Justice’s Multimedia Section, I have had my own media production company, Think Speak Act, LLC, for the last 13 years (www.thinkspeakact.com). I work with a wide variety of television shows, PR firms, and non-profit and government agencies, helping them tell their stories. I have been earning awards in film and video production for over 25 years, and I have won Tellys, CINEs, and even an Emmy Award. The first student media festival award I received was for a video I wrote, directed, produced and edited in high school about teen suicide prevention. That video was my Girl Scout Gold Award project, and I was the only girl in my entire county to earn a Gold Award that year (Cobb County, GA, 1990 – it was the NW Georgia Girl Scout Council back then).
8) What is your educational background?
I graduated high school with over a 4.0 GPA and went to college as a National Merit Scholar. I earned a Bachelor of Arts with Highest Honors in Film Studies from the University of Florida, and I earned a Master of Fine Arts in Film and Video Production from the Florida State University Film School. I have been adjunct faculty at both the George Washington University Documentary Center and American University’s School of Communication in Washington, DC. I also teach my own “Missing” Editing Class workshops.