Unlike many of her predominantly white peers, Sofia Chang, the new CEO of Girl Scouts, has a unique upbringing, spending most of her childhood working at a restaurant. Her parents’ Chinese in Philadelphia. Although she’s been exposed to elements of real life that are sometimes uncomfortable, she says the experience leaves a lasting impression.
“There are assumptions made about me because of where I work, what my parents do, or what I look like,” says Chang. “And I think that experience, what I call ‘exclusive’, really pushed me to have an even greater desire to create inclusion.”
Chang, who came to the United States without English proficiency at the age of 10, became the first Asian-American to hold a leadership position in the Girl Scouts’ 110-year history. After officially starting her role on Thursday, Chang said her mission is to build an inclusive environment she’s always wanted to provide for others.
“Much of what I want to achieve comes from giving people more access so these girls can fulfill their dreams,” says Chang.
Chang, who said she entered the world of Girl Scouts through her daughter, explained that she hopes her presence in a prominent leadership role can help broaden the range of possibilities for girls. young. And while the organization has struggled in the past to recruit girls of color, Chang said she hopes to ensure that “our programs are developed in ways that are engaging, interesting, and real.” service to all girls”.
“Ultimately, we know that there are more and more opportunities for girls these days, but not everyone has access to them,” she said. “And I think Girl Scouts can play an important role in that.”
Chang, a former HBO executive, said she credits the skills she developed growing up in an Asian immigrant family with leading her to Girl Scouts. Chang, born in Brazil, spent the first few years of his life with his grandparents. Her mother worked as a hostess and her father worked as a dishwasher for a Chinese restaurant in the US. After Chang’s parents saved enough money to open their own small establishment, she and her sister joined. The couple then spent their formative years searching for a new life in America, while using any free time after school or on weekends to help their parents, make wontons and roll. eggs, “whole,” she said.
“None of us speak English. My sister and I quickly learned the essentials,” said Chang. “We found ourselves translating for our parents through many interactions – everything from getting a bank loan, calling the school, talking to my mother’s oncologist. Just trash. ”
While it’s a lot of responsibility for a teenager to take on, Chang says it makes her well-positioned for any challenges that arise as an adult.
“Much of that has really given me resilience. And it taught me how to be fearless and it allowed me to take risks and also to learn how to recover from disappointment,” she said.
But while her time at the restaurant has given her the entrepreneurial spirit and planted some seeds of an interest in marketing, she says she knows that coming from a working-class background, There are roadblocks to some of the careers she hopes to pursue.
“If I had a dream of opening my own restaurant, I have an incredible network for that, but I don’t have the network to go into corporate America, if you will,” Chang said.
While pursuing a career in advertising while studying at the University of Pennsylvania, Chang said she learned the value of intentionally helping others who may not have a mentor network or agencies. other association.
“I am so lucky to have so many people willing to help me,” says Chang. “I met an alumnus and I just told her I was interested in advertising and she immediately put me in touch with two of her friends who run an advertising agency. this one on Madison Avenue. And that led to my first job in advertising.”
Later at HBO, where she spent two decades, Chang said she just continues to see how important the role of mentoring and accessibility really can be, especially for women who experience a lot. obstacles in leadership roles than others.
“I have benefited from working with some of the pioneering women. They broke all kinds of ceilings, and then they helped me get through some of my ceilings,” says Chang. “It was really important to me to see the possibilities so that I could see them for myself.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/girl-scouts-first-asian-american-ceo-credits-diverse-childhood-rcna14007 Girl Scouts’ first Asian-American CEO acknowledges her diverse maidenhood