Tonya Hyatt

Girl Scouts of Ouachita Council

City: North Little Rock
Category: Nonprofit Executive of the Year
Year: 2001

When Tonya Hyatt joined the Girl Scouts in 1966, she learned how to manage a household. Today girls under her care learn how to build and

program robots.

"This isn't your mother's Girl Scouts," Hyatt said.

As director of membership services for the Girl Scouts of Ouachita Council, Hyatt is entrusted with the organization's future. She recruits girls and volunteers to keep the program strong and active.

In today's scouts, girls learn about self-esteem and social issues such as teen pregnancy and world affairs. And Hyatt must work to recruit young girls and teen-agers into a program often considered "uncool," she said.

Hyatt, who has worked for the Ouachita Council for 17 years, has seen a lot of changes within the program and among the participants. Girls still sell cookies and go camping, but they also learn about drug abuse prevention and careers. During her 10 years as the director of membership services at the Ouachita Council in North Little Rock, central Arkansas membership has increased by 20 percent, from 5,300 girls to 6,500, Hyatt estimated.

Several years ago, Hyatt helped create the PhoneFriend program that encouraged children who were home alone to call a hotline for information about safety, making snacks and homework assistance. But many of the children who called in were simply lonely and scared.

"The kids wanted a personal voice of someone who cared about what they were doing," Hyatt said.

Organizers and volunteers felt the program was a mixed blessing, recognizing and fulfilling a need in the community. But a lack of funds to support its overwhelming popularity eventually caused the program to end, Hyatt said.

Hyatt manages three smaller divisions: membership specialists, outreach and volunteer development teams. Eight full-time staff members are responsible for increasing area scout troops' visibility, membership numbers and programs.

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