Opinion Extra

Cathy Novinger Girl Scout center will develop leaders for Columbia and SC

AP Photo

The mission of Girl Scouting is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. At the corner of Senate and Williams Streets in Columbia, Girl Scouts of South Carolina–Mountains to Midlands is constructing a facility that will allow girls to make a quantum leap forward in the development of these traits.

When the Cathy Novinger Girl Scout Leadership Center is completed, it will provide a space for Girl Scouts that is unlike anything that currently exists in South Carolina. It will contain game-changing facilities for nurturing five key areas of leadership development (Arts, Business Enterprise, Healthy Living, Outdoor Education, and STEM), providing no shortage of opportunities for girls to discover their passions.

The Center will not only be utilized by the nearly 10,000 girls enrolled with the Girls Scouts of South Carolina–Mountains to Midlands, but will also serve as a regional leadership training institute, attracting girls from as far away as the Atlanta and Raleigh areas. This wide reach means that this center has enormous potential to act as a pipeline and incubator for female leadership in the region.

Lou Kennedy

Girl Scouts grow up to be leaders in their communities, and if we can bring girls from around the Southeast to Columbia to develop their leadership potential, many of them may one day return to apply their expertise here. Female leaders have already proven themselves more than capable of engineering growth in the Midlands.

As the CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals, I led the charge to construct a 408,000 square-foot manufacturing center in West Columbia, creating hundreds of jobs.

We are not done growing, though, and as an investment in the knowledge economy of the Midlands, Nephron is donating a STEM lab to the center. In this lab, the next generation of female scientists and tech leaders will be equipped with everything they need to begin their journeys.

Along with the physical resources of the center, girls will be presented with role models to study, emulate, and, in time, surpass. First and foremost amongst those models will be the center’s namesake, and my friend, Cathy Novinger. Cathy served as a leader in South Carolina for decades, and the integrity she demonstrated throughout her life will inspire and instruct future generations of female leaders.

Cathy Novinger

Our girls need models to follow, and they also need the support of the community to complete this facility. Roughly half of the Girl Scouts enrolled with the Mountains to Midlands council could not participate in Girl Scouting without assistance. For some of the girls who come to this center, the trip to Columbia will be their first trip to a city with dedicated centers for art, business, science, and government, and a visit to the center will allow them to sow seeds for future leadership in the Midlands.

The Cathy Novinger Girl Scout Leadership Center is an investment that will pay rich dividends for our region, providing strong leadership, technical innovation, and economic growth for decades to come. To learn more about Girl Scouts of South Carolina- Mountains to Midlands visit mountainstomidlans.com.

Lou Kennedy serves as the Midlands Public Phase Honorary Chair of the ToGetHerThere campaign for Girl Scouts of South Carolina–Mountains to Midlands. She is president, chief executive officer and owner of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. Kennedy is chairman of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and serves on a variety of business and civic boards.