DEXTER -- Rounding out a year of work to merge five Girl Scout Councils into one larger regional council, official steps are being taken to approve the merger.
"The merger vote is the final act of the realignment process," said Libby Mobley, president of the Cotton Boll Area Council, who has served as the co-chair of the Realignment Committee. "We've gone through all the preliminary work and all of the five councils have been meeting together for the last year and doing all the work. All five council boards approved the merger and now it's time for each council's voting body and delegates to approve the merger plan."
Those in the Cotton Boll Council, which serves nine counties in southeast Missouri, including Scott, New Madrid, Mississippi and Stoddard, will meet Tuesday to approve the merger, set to become official Oct. 1. Cotton Boll will merge with Otahki in Cape Girardeau, Dogwood Trails based in Springfield, Heart of Missouri based in Jefferson City, and Ozark Area based in Joplin to form Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland.
"It's also going to be a celebration of the new council, and people will be able to meet the new CEO and board chair," said Mobley. She said that she and other organizers hope the meeting and ice cream social to follow generates a lot of attendees -- volunteers, past members or friends of the organization -- who come to socialize and also meet with Jennifer Orban, selected as the regional council's CEO.
"I really, really like Jennifer," said Mobley, who also served as chair of the CEO search committee. "She has a passion for Girl Scouts, and that's why she wanted to get back into it."
Orban, who assumes her new duties Aug. 25, most recently served as chief professional officer of the Far Northwest Suburban United Way in Chicago. From 2002 to 2005, she was CEO of Girl Scouts of Shagbark Council in Herrin, Ill.
"She really missed Girl Scouting," said Mobley. "She's excited and supported the realignment process. She'll help us come together as one council really well."
The new council will serve an anticipated 28,000 girls and adults. Orban will oversee a projected council staff of 85 employees serving girls through a 67-county region. Its perimeters stretch from the Mississippi River west to Oklahoma and Kansas, and the entire Missouri southern border north to Jefferson City and Columbia.
The new council's administrative center will be based in Springfield. However, Mobley noted current service centers -- locally in Dexter -- will remain open with basically the same staff and continue to serve the girls, volunteers and communities in those regions.
The realignment process began three years ago, as a mandate from Girl Scouts USA, although the real work for those involved in Girl Scout of the Missouri Heartland started about a year ago.
"It's part of a big plan of theirs to make things more streamlined," said Mobley. "The end result is supposed to be more services to the girls, because they will have access to resources of all the other councils in the group."
For instance, the Cotton Boll Council is the only one of the five merging with its camp on a lake.
It will also be more efficient, with just one CEO. "It's been a really expensive process, but eventually it will settle in and hopefully result in more efficient use of resources and bigger and better program opportunities for the girls," said Mobley.
More information about the realignment is available online at www.girlscoutsrscmo.org.