We recently sat down with Girl Scout Alumna, Barbara Levenson to talk about her Girl Scout experiences and how that helped shape the woman she has become.
Born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Barbara was raised in Columbus, Ohio. She was the first woman elected to the Columbus Board of Education, and later served as the Board’s first female president. Barbara was also the first woman to be named the Ohio Newspaper’s “Man of the Year.”
A Cum Laude graduate of the University of Miami Law School, Barbara has served as a prosecutor and run her own law practice where she focused on criminal defense and civil rights litigation. Barbara was elected to a judgeship in the circuit court of Miami-Dade County. Now retired, Barbara publishes crime novels and breeds German Shepherds with her husband.
How long were you a Girl Scout?
I started as a Brownie when I was seven years old. I continued until high school.
What is your favorite Girl Scout memory?
My favorite Girl Scout memory is the feeling of girl pride working together with the other troop members. This feeling of female solidarity has always remained with me.
Can you tell me about a moment in your career that you are proud of, and how your experience in Girl Scouts helped you achieve that goal?
My parents were not “camping out” fans. They were raised in a big city, so they knew nothing of this. I wanted so much to go camping as many of my friends did. Girl Scout camp gave me that opportunity, and it gave me the spirit of independence; that is ability to sleep outside in a sleeping bag, cook over an open fire, make use of plants in the wild. That independence stayed with me when I decided to buck convention and run for office as the first woman to seek elected office in 1967 in Columbus, Ohio. (I won)
Can you tell me about a time where your experience in Girl Scouts helped you overcome adversity?
The worst experience I had in scouting was earning the sewing badge. I have no aptitude for handiwork, not even knitting. My worked- on blouse was torn up and redone so many times that it looked like a rag. We had to model the darn things in order to earn the badge. I felt so humiliated modeling my crooked sleeved product. But I earned the badge! And so I learned to face adversity. As a judge in Miami, I was accused by a group seeking publicity that I was biased against an ethnic group. I went to the local newspaper and spoke to them about my background and programs I had enacted to help that very population. Consequently, they investigated and found not one scintilla of truth to their accusations. This could have remained a humiliating situation had I not learned to tackle such situations.
If you could give girls today one piece of advice, what would it be?
This is the advice I always give young women. Never take no for an answer.
What is your favorite Girl Scout Cookie?
Tagalongs. I’m a sucker for peanut butter and chocolate.
Want to learn more about Barbara? Check out her website.