The Girl Scout leadership program impacts girls and young women by inspiring them to change ‘Can I?” to “I will!” The proof is in the results. Girl Scout alumna are running businesses, making strides in STEM fields and using their voices to influence politics. Over 80% of today’s business women and 68% of women members of congress are Girl Scout alumna.
Girl Scouts of Central Maryland contributes to this legacy of leadership by pairing high school age Girl Scouts with successful businesswomen who symbolize what their futures could be. Through our Distinguished Women’s Shadow program Girl Scouts observe women’s leadership in action, first-hand. Here’s what a 2018 Distinguished Woman Honoree has to say about her experiences, mentoring and being a leader.
Alicia Ritchie is a Principal in Miles & Stockbridge’s litigation department. She is proud to be an African-American woman at the top of her legal profession at a nationally recognized law firm. As a trial, appellate and regulatory attorney, Ritchie represents corporate clients in a variety of local and national matters.
Alicia recalls that she said she was going to be a lawyer for most of her life. She believes the role Atticus Finch played in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was an inspiration to her. “What Atticus Finch was doing for Tom Robinson was so admirable and powerful. I wanted to be able to help people like that.” Alicia’s volunteer work as a lawyer for non-profit organizations like the House of Ruth and the Homeless Persons Representation Project reflect her commitment to help those in need, especially those who may not otherwise have the means to acquire legal counsel.
Have you had a mentor to help guide you through your professional journey?
I have been fortunate to have and had many mentors through my professional journey. These individuals have provided me with advice and guidance and have had a large impact on who I am and where I am today. More importantly, however, I have had sponsors through my career who have helped to open doors for me that my mentors could not open. My sponsors have been my advocates. They have put their reputations – both personal and professional – on the line to support me and my career goals and are definitely the reason behind my success. While I have had to prove that I am worthy of their sponsorship, through hard work and favorable results, I would not be where I am today without their backing and investment in me.
What was the best piece of advice you have received and why was the advice good for you?
The best piece of advice I have received is to work hard. There is simply no substitute for hard work and when you work hard, everything else falls into place. This advice has been good for me because it has allowed me to excel in my career and to get to where I am today.
What do you think is the best way to encourage the next generation of women professionals to become leaders in their industry/profession, politics or community?
I think the best way to encourage the next generation of women professionals to become leaders is by setting an example and by providing any mentorship and, where warranted, sponsorship that I can.
How do you believe you are influencing the next generation?
I believe I am influencing the next generation by leading by example and showing them that anything is possible. As an African-American woman, I can appreciate firsthand the magnitude of my accomplishment of becoming a Principal at a nationally recognized, full service law firm since the legal industry has not always been the most open environment for diverse professionals. To be among those who are a part of helping to shatter that glass ceiling is tremendously fulfilling for me—both professionally and personally.
Is there a saying or quote that captures who you are, your work ethic or beliefs that you want to share with others to inspire or encourage them?
I have come across so many inspirational quotes throughout my life and career, but one that has always stuck with me is “Service is the rent we pay for living. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time.”