Women in Leadership 2019
Chief Executive Officer, Girls Scouts of the USA
A life-long Girl Scout, Sylvia Acevedo was appointed CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA in May 2017, having served as a member of the GSUSA Board of Directors from 2009 to 2016 and as an officer and member of its Executive Committee.
Since assuming leadership at Girl Scouts, Sylvia has introduced bold initiatives underscoring the organization’s commitment to serve all girls with cutting-edge, research-backed and girl-centered programming that ensures the country’s workforce pipeline is filled with true go-getters, innovators, risk-takers and leaders—what Girl Scouts call G.I.R.L.s.
Sylvia began her Girl Scout journey as a young girl growing up in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was at Girl Scouts that she first discovered her passion for space and astronomy when her troop leader pointed out the stars and constellations to her and encouraged her to earn her Science badge. Her interest in STEM subjects would lead her to a career as a rocket scientist, engineer, technology executive and award-winning STEM entrepreneur.
Sylvia has held positions with some of the world’s most respected companies, serving in executive and engineering roles at leading technology companies such as Apple, Dell Computer, Autodesk Inc. and IBM. She began her career working as a rocket scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she played a critical role in helping NASA learn about Jupiter and its moons Io and Europa by developing unique algorithms to analyze the data the Voyager 2 probe sent back.
A strong civic and education leader, Sylvia is a passionate advocate for early childhood education. She has traveled nationwide talking to children about the exciting opportunities available in STEM fields, and to parents, educators and administrators about the importance of expanding educational opportunities for children, improving outcomes and narrowing achievement gaps in communities across the country. Sylvia was one of the first Hispanic students, male or female, to earn a graduate engineering degree from Stanford University—a master of science in industrial engineering—and she holds a bachelor of science degree with honors in industrial engineering from New Mexico State University.
Sylvia is the author of “Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist,” a memoir for middle school students meant to inspire them to live the life of their dreams.
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