Jonathan J. Higuera

In celebration of Arizona Trailblazers

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Anna Maria Chávez 

Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts of the USA

Anna Maria Chávez was the first person of color to lead the Girl Scouts of the USA.  As a 10-year-old girl in Eloy, Arizona, Chávez had no inkling when she first joined a Girl Scout troop that she would someday lead the national organization as its chief executive officer. This is a role she relishes for its clear mandate to provide leadership opportunities to young girls. She herself benefited from being a Girl Scout, even though it was a small, under-resourced troop. “We didn’t have uniforms,” she recalled, “but we had badges.” 

Chávez has been pushing through doors her whole life. Her accomplishments, which include getting a bachelor of arts from Yale University and a law degree from the Rogers School of Law at the University of Arizona, fill a resume and then some. She has held several high-profile positions within the federal government in Washington, D.C.: legal counsel for the Federal Highway Administration; senior policy advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation; chief of staff to the Deputy Administrator at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); and advisor to senior SBA and White House officials.

She returned to Arizona in 2000 to work for former Gov. Jane Dee Hull. Later, she served in former Gov. Janet Napolitano’s cabinet, rising to deputy chief of staff. After Gov. Napolitano resigned to become chief of Homeland Security, Chávez sought out a new opportunity as the executive officer of the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, which eventually led to her current role with the Girl Scouts of the USA. She also served as a role model by becoming the first Latina to sit on the Central Arizona Community College Governing Board. 

She credits her mother and father with providing her with unwavering support in the pursuit of  her hopes and dreams. Anna Maria’s mother and father met while working in the fields. Her parents recognized the need to give their daughter every opportunity to fulfill her potential. They moved to the Phoenix area when Anna was in the eighth grade so she could attend high school in the Paradise Valley High School District. She graduated from Shadow Mountain High School with honors, where she also received generous support from the teachers there. At the time, Shadow Mountain was a youngish school and Chávez was possibly the first from the school to attend Yale University. 

Chávez is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Exemplary Leadership Award from Valle del Sol, the Adjutant General Medal, the Diversity Leadership Award presented by the Arizona National Guard, and, most recently, the 2012 Chairman’s Award from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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