Scouting is in Meredith Maskara’s DNA.
The incoming CEO of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York comes from a family that boasts three generations in the organization.
And Maskara, who has five daughters and lives in Sunnyside, is continuing the legacy with her own children.
“I attribute my fierceness in life to the Girl Scouts,” said the 44-year-old Maskara. “I was told my opinion is worth something. That was very validating.”
On Aug. 1, Maskara takes the reins of the organization that serves 28,000 girls across the five boroughs. She has previously served as chief operating officer and vice president of product retail and sales after spending almost two decades in the field of theatrical and event merchandising and planning.
She sees scouting as a vital way of helping young women reach their potential.
“I think we’ve been fortunate enough to make strides in the movement of equality for women but there is so much further to go,” she said. “Girls are still not encouraged to seek careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). We need to prepare them for the future, and we need to grow leaders in that field.”
Maskara is especially proud of the Girl Scouts efforts to create troops for young girls living in homeless shelters and transitional housing. She has pledged to help expand those efforts and reach more girls in low-income parts of the city.
“These are girls that need us, this is a fragile lifestyle,” she said. “Part of the success has been that girls feel for the first time like they belong and they are not being transferred in.”
Scouting -– and the support of two strong women — gave Maskara that empowerment as a young girl growing up in Maine.
Her mother, Dotti Schaller, was a Girl Scout leader for 55 years, and her grandmother was a troop volunteer.
“My mother was always pushing the envelope a little,” Maskara said. “She wanted to teach girls to be civically active and set a high bar.”
Schaller took her troop to the statehouse to observe government at work and teach Scouts the importance of lobbying. Maskara started a Girls Advisory Board when she was just a teen.
But one of her most proud accomplishments was earning the Girl Scout’s top honor –- a Gold Award –- for starting a Daisy troop for 5-year-olds.
While the Girls Scouts are still best known for their annual cookie sales, that experience is more than just a way to raise money. Maskara said it teaches young girls important lessons about business ethics and entrepreneurship
“When you see a 5- or 6-year-old girl with no fear going up to someone to make a sale — you see the courage they get from it,” she said. “That’s the importance of the program.”