GE Healthcare, Girl Scouts build on 17-year partnership with STEM initiatives

GE Healthcare employees cleaning up a cabin at a Girl Scouts camp during an annual day of service.
GE Healthcare employees cleaning up a cabin at a Girl Scouts camp during an annual day of service.

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:36 pm

GE Healthcare and Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast are working on a new program aimed at continuing efforts to introduce girls to careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

In early 2020, the organizations are collaborating on a daylong event that will showcase the roles of female engineers, technicians and executives at GE Healthcare’s Waukesha facility. Girl Scouts will have the opportunity to talk with those employees and participate in interactive workshops and design challenges, said Kelly Skindzelewski, community engagement leader, U.S. and Canada at GE Healthcare.

“We know there’s a gender imbalance in STEM and (Girl Scouts) is one of the organizations that are really helping to bridge that gap,” Skindzelewski said. “… To help them in some way is really our honor and pleasure.”

The event is part of a longstanding partnership between the two organizations. They first teamed up in 2002 when a group of GE Healthcare employees spent a day cleaning and preparing a GSWISE camp property ahead of the organization’s summer programs.

Seventeen years later, a total of more than 2,300 GE Healthcare employees have participated in what’s become an annual day of service, collectively contributing 18,800 volunteer hours.

The event has expanded to annually attract about 300 volunteers, covering three camp locations: Camp Pottawatomie Hills in East Troy, Camp Silver Brook in West Bend and Camp Winding River in Neosho. The volunteers tackle projects that would otherwise be time-consuming for property staff, including staining cabins, landscaping, building picnic tables, chopping firewood and constructing tents.

“There’s such a plethora of tasks they accomplish in such a short time—many hands make light work. It makes such a positive impact on our property staff and the organization,” said Ashley Hatley Caruso, chief development and external relations officer at GSWISE.

And when the partnership grew into something more than just a once-a-year service day, Caruso said it was a “natural progression” that serves the missions of both organizations.

GE Healthcare in 2017 became presenting sponsor of GSWISE’s “Girl Scouts in STEM” initiative, providing both financial and programming support, such as the upcoming career day, for almost 12,000 girls.

“What I feel is very unique with girl scouting is that we always try to emphasize female leadership and mentors in these experiences,” Caruso said. “I will always say ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’… I think it’s so important that girls not only learn about this, but they can see themselves through other women sharing their stories sharing their impact.”

She said Girl Scouts at this year’s career day will have the opportunity to hear from GE’s internationally-based employees via video stream to “inspire them to think big.”

“Whether or not they all go into STEM fields is one thing, but really it’s about providing them with the opportunity to learn more and learn what they really like and want to do and have had those hands-on experiences to back whatever it is they decide for their future,” she said.

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Maredithe Meyer covers restaurants, retail, tourism, and sports and entertainment. She joined BizTimes in 2015, previously as an intern reporter. She earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University in 2017. When she's not on the job, Maredithe coaches field hockey and loves exploring her favorite city on earth, Milwaukee.

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