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Lessons in leadership: Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma CEO Janienne Bella shares her perspective

At Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma, we are committed to inspiring girls’ success through exemplary leadership, curiosity and service to others. Janienne Bella, our new chief executive officer, has personified all three attributes throughout her career of nearly 30 years.

“Strong women have always been part of my life. From my mother, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and professional women who have helped me through the ranks, I have been blessed with wonderful mentors. Just as so many people who have helped guide and lead me, I am able to help girls and young women see opportunities to help them figure out that path for themselves,” said Bella. “I support Girl Scouts’ mission, which centers around building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”

A graduate of Oklahoma State University, Bella earned her degree in human development and family studies in 1992. Career highlights include serving as CEO of A Chance to Change and Regional CEO for the Oklahoma-Arkansas region of the American Red Cross.

“Each organization I have dedicated my efforts to over the years has children as part of their mission, serving families and communities,” said Bella. “I am proud to join Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma as the organization works to meet the needs of local girls with thoughtful planning for even better years ahead.”

Bella recognizes the important role of mental health services for children in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a focal point for slated Girl Scouts programming over the next decade.

“Our council here is very astute in listening to girls. The pandemic has left a footprint on our children, with significant impacts yet to be fully understood on learning, coping abilities and social skills. As an organization, we have these issues on our radar,” said Bella. “Through my experiences in the non-profit sector, I know how valuable intervention tools can be for a solid foundation and improved mental health.”
In her role at the American Red Cross, Bella worked to address ongoing issues for survivors of the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Support for long-term recovery continued years after the tragedy, with surgery, mental health and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) intervention offered to victims’ families, survivors and first responders.

“When I reflect on that time, I consider how forward-thinking those interventions were. Dealing with trauma, major health issues and the mental strain of the crisis required long-term planning. It was amazing to see our city and community leaders come together with incredible volunteers,” said Bella. “Some of the disaster work I engaged in with the American Red Cross has been life-changing. Work with the bombing project and later with the May 2013 tornados not only stretched me beyond what I thought I could do but showed me the power of people united for good. I see the good here at Girl Scouts.”

Bella knows the positive impact of helping girls learn through doing with positive social connections, hallmarks of Girl Scouts programming.

“There’s so much more to Girl Scouts than the cookies that may first come to mind for the public. From life skills and exposure to STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] to building connections with troop leaders, being a Girl Scout teaches girls they can be anything they want to be. It opens up their world so they can see all the possibilities,” she said.

Bella volunteers on YMCA Northside of Greater Oklahoma City’s advisory board and is a Rotarian in the Oklahoma City Downtown Rotary Club.

“The shiniest star I can hold up in my career is working with volunteers. Every job I’ve ever had includes volunteerism,” said Bella. “When you work with volunteers, it can’t help but enhance your spirit, change your outlook and push you to be better.”

Bella looks forward to seeing girls excel through Girl Scouts and meeting the girls whose lives are enriched through participation.

“What I want the Girl Scout community to know is the rich tradition of Girl Scouts will continue with relevance to today’s times. We want to reach as many girls as we possibly can with quality programs and experiences,” said Bella. “I am so excited to learn alongside tomorrow’s leaders and my own pledge is that I’ll give 150% as CEO of Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma.”