From Brownie to Junior Scout in Oklahoma City to a troop leader for her daughters and later a Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas board member, Kit Addleman has already made her own mark in Scouting.
Now, as the recently elected board chair for Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, the Preston Hollow resident is ready to continue not only her legacy but that of her famous Girl Scout family.
It’s common knowledge that Juliette Gordon Low, a Georgia native, founded the girls’ organization in 1912. Low’s best friend, Mary Gale Carter, was with her every step of the way, and Carter’s daughter, Anne Choate, was Low’s goddaughter. To Addleman, Choate and Carter are family.
“We call Kit ‘Girl Scout royalty,’” said Jennifer Bartkowski, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas.
Carter, Addleman’s great-great-great-grandmother, and Choate, her great-great aunt, have always played a role in Addleman’s scouting career, and even more so now, as board chair until 2017.
“I grew up knowing the Girl Scouts was important to my family,” said Addleman. “Anne died when I was only six years old, but I remember her as a very cool old person.”
Choate was treated like Low’s own daughter, since she had no children of her own. As Girl Scouts picked up steam across the nation, Choate became involved, starting her own troop in Pleasantville, N.Y., and later succeeded Low as the second president of Girl Scouts.
Now, as board chair for the organization’s branch that serves 26,600 girls in 32 counties, Addleman is wearing her storied family legacy proudly and already looking to forge her own path. Addleman, a partner at the Dallas law firm Haynes and Boone, served as a board member for the past three years and knows how the 30 elected members, with her help, can push the leadership organization forward.
“Girl Scouts’ movement overall is going through a lot of transformation to make the experience for today’s girls relevant. It’s not always driven by the same things that 25 years ago made a troop ideal, and so we’re moving the delivery of Girl Scouting into today’s environment,” Addleman said.
Her connection to the past and the future of the organization is what Bartkowski sees as one of Addleman’s best traits.
“In no possible way could Juliette have expected the world of 2015. We have to do things differently, but it always has to be based on her principles,” Bartkowski said. “Kit is smart, professional, organized, thoughtful, and has a real vision for her own work, and she serves as a touch point for us, so that we can channel Juliette in all of the decisions we make.”
For Addleman, Girl Scouts serves as one of the most defining leadership experiences of her life, even though she only spent a few years as a scout herself.
“I was just a Brownie and a Girl Scout through about fifth or sixth grade. While the pinnacle of Girl Scout success is the Gold Award, every girl who puts in a few years learning leadership skills and teamwork gets a benefit,” she said. “It becomes embedded in your DNA that it’s OK to step up, take the risk, be a leader, and do something different.”
Addleman, along with the general board members, will spend the next years elevating the brand and spreading the word about Girl Scouts around the community.
“A lot of people think well of Girl Scouts, but think only cookies, camps, and crafts. We want them to think of Girl Scouts as leadership. Our board members communicate why investing in girls is such an important investment in the community,” Bartkowski said. “They set a vision for where we want to go and a strategy for how to impact the lives of girls.”
Addleman has already seen the impact on her three daughters, two of whom served through the Cadet level and one who is currently a Girl Scout.
“Now, between me and my daughters, I can see the benefit that Girl Scouts has given us, in terms of courage and the opportunity to experiment and figure out what you’re good at in a very safe learning environment,” she said. “Frankly, that’s the reason why I want my 8-year-old to have the same experience as the older girls. You can try all of those different things, and decide, ‘I might want to go to the next level with this.’ You just don’t get that same breadth of experience in the classroom.”
As Addleman settles in to her position, Bartkowski trusts that the organization is in good hands.
“Kit really gets it,” Bartkowski said. “Girl Scouts is the foundation for any other activity, so when my own daughter chooses volleyball or student council, she has that basis of self-esteem and leadership that girls need no matter what they do with their lives.”