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LinkedIn - What Happens in Girl Scouts Does Not Stay in Girl Scouts

By: Paula Bookidis, CEO at Girl Scouts of Central Texas

The Girl Scout Cookie Program is in full swing, and I’m excited to share the second in our series of conversations with local entrepreneurs who are supporting our girls in their cookie businesses this year. Next up is Christina Gorczynski, Executive Director of Impact Austin.

Christina is a Girl Scouts alum, and I loved hearing her reminisce about her own experiences with the cookie program where she kickstarted her career in philanthropy. If you’re looking for ways to give back but aren’t sure where to start, Christina has some tips for you.

Paula: You have both a personal passion and a job that centers around driving positive change in our community. What inspired this passion?

Christina: I grew up in a family that was very engaged in the community and had a heightened awareness of inequities in my city. My father was a city councilmember, and my mother was the social minister at our faith community. They took me with them to work, to volunteer, and showed me firsthand how important giving back is.

My family made sure I understood that I had a responsibility to leave the world a better place than I found it. My parents always invested in me and encouraged me to get involved. They actually signed me up for Girl Scouts, because they wanted me to find a community and give back.

Paula: In Girl Scouts, girls take action in the community and aim to make the world a better place. How would you encourage people with a desire to create change take that first step to get started?

Christina: Step one is self-reflection. Get in touch with your motivation, examine which issues you care about most deeply, and explore what inspires you to get involved. Basically, focus on the “why” first. Step two is determining the “how,” which can be both daunting and exhilarating! There are so many ways to give back. You can look to organizations like Impact Austin to discover the vibrant nonprofit community in Central Texas. Use these resources to identify the nonprofits in the community are working on those issues. Ask questions about the specific impact those nonprofits are making.

The final step is to align your energy and efforts with the nonprofits that address the issues you care about most and are making a significant impact. Then go for it! Actively engage and get involved. It might be as a volunteer, a financial supporter, or champion. We all inherently have something to give, whether that be time, talent, connections, or perspective.

Paula: How do you think giving back to the community benefits the giver?

Christina: Giving back brings joy. Giving is often fueled by gratitude and can make us feel better about the world. Giving can increase our happiness. At the beginning of the pandemic, we had so many Impact Austin members that just wanted to do something, somewhere – philanthropy allowed them a way and a space to give back, while also helping them maintain a more positive outlook.

Paula: Lifelong learning is a passion area of mine. What resources do you recommend for people interested in philanthropy?

Christina: Same! Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about impact investing. The Trust Based Philanthropy Project offers a lot of great material related to addressing power imbalances in funding relationships.

Paula: I hear that your first fundraising position was as a Girl Scout participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program. What did you learn through the program, and how did that influence you?

Christina: First of all, I remember that the Girl Scout Cookie Program was a program, not just a sale.

When I was eight or nine, as my troop began preparing for the cookie program, a businesswoman came to work with us. We learned how to set up a business plan. I learned to sit down, brainstorm, and think big. I made a list of the people most likely to purchase cookies from me. I had gone to work with my dad at city hall many times, and figuring that I was a constituent, one day I went and knocked on every office door to ask the city staff if they would like to buy cookies. I had recently been at the zoo, so I called the head veterinarian and zookeeper and said “I was recently on your tour, and I wondered if you’d like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies.” The zookeeper said yes, and he let me know that zookeepers were very busy people, so he knew some other folks who also might like to make phone orders. He passed the phone around to his colleagues and I ended up taking orders over the (land-line!) phone at the zoo. That year I sold hundreds of boxes.

In the cookie program, I felt empowered that I could learn how to do something and then actually do it and see the result. I also liked understanding how the money I raised supported camping and other activities which made a positive impact for me and my troop.

What shaped me as a fundraiser is connecting money to mission. You are presenting someone with an opportunity to support your mission. You are presenting them with an opportunity to support something they can really care about. To this day, I still use skills I learned in Girl Scouts in my development work.

Paula: As a Girl Scout alum, what place do you think Girl Scouts plays in today’s society?

Christina: Girls are leaders. Girl Scouts have adults in their lives who invest in them, believe in them, and bring forth something special for the world. Investing in Girl Scouts shows that you believe in girls’ power and potential and signing your girl up for Girl Scouts is a true investment in her future.


Christina Canales Gorczynski is the Executive Director of Impact Austin, a women’s collective giving organization that cultivates and expands the knowledge, passion, and generosity of women to make a positive impact. She is focused leveraging philanthropy to create a better world for future generations.

For her philanthropic work and advocacy, Christina was selected for an Equal Justice Works public interest law fellowship, voted Houston's PRIDE Grand Marshal, named an “Inspiring Latina” by Latina Magazine, honored for youth and online engagement by the League of Women Voters of the US, presented with a Pathfinder Award from the Travis County Women Lawyers Association, and received the Young Alumni Award from her alma mater Beloit College.

A collective giving enthusiast, Christina currently serves on the Southwest Angels Network (SWAN) board of directors, and is a member of the Hispanic Impact Fund and Women's Fund at the Austin Community Foundation, Impact100 Houston, and a Lion of Judah and member of the Grants Committee at Shalom Austin.


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