March 26, 2019
Girl Scouts of Eastern Mass, Names Denise Burgess as CEO

Denise Burgess
March 1, 2018 — Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, a Boston nonprofit that serves girls throughout eastern Massachusetts, this week announced that Denise Burgess has been named chief executive officer following a six-month nationwide search.

Burgess, who will assume the position March 13, succeeds Patricia Parcellin, who retired in January after serving as CEO for three years.

“Denise’s impressive professional experience, her character, and her personal commitment to the advancement of women and girls combine to make her the ideal leader for our council at this time in our history,” said Tricia Tilford, board chair and president of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts GSEMA.

She added, “Our board members immediately recognized Denise’s potential to raise the council’s visibility and help get the message out that Girl Scouts delivers the best leadership development experience for girls in the world—one that is designed with, by, and for girls. She will serve as an ambassador in promoting Girl Scouts as a safe, inclusive space where girls can take the lead.”

Burgess most recently served as resident country director for The Carter Center, the nonprofit organization founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, leading a field operation focused on monitoring elections, human rights, and mining governance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Previously, she served 16 years in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State. During her service, Burgess staffed the front lines of the department’s 24-hour, worldwide communications and crisis management center. She also directed first-response communications during the immediate aftermath of the African embassy bombing crisis in 1998.

Burgess appeared as a CNN correspondent from 2002 to 2005, managing the Middle East and Asia news desk during the Iraq invasion, then delivering live reports from Baghdad during the post-conflict phase. She was nominated for “Best Feature” by the National Association of Black Journalists.

Following her diplomatic and broadcast experiences, Burgess worked as a consultant on Afghan reconstruction issues at the Department of Defense. She also founded the consulting firm Burgess Belgrave, LLC, providing international strategic planning, communications, and marketing consultancy to the State Department's Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau, NATO/ISAF Afghanistan, and across a variety of private sector companies.

Said Burgess, “I am so excited to embark on this journey with Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, particularly at this moment in the course of history. I believe America is facing a critical juncture in the development of our cultural norms, particularly those that relate to women and girls.

“The Girl Scouts’ mission is to encourage girls to develop the qualities necessary to become successful, well-balanced, healthy women, who contribute positively to our society. We must use our own courage, confidence, and character to make sure that the next generation of girls, and the next, and the next after that, are prepared to face the unique challenges they’ll encounter in a world as yet unknown to us.”

Burgess, a Boston native, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Princeton University and a Master of Science degree in Communications Management from Syracuse University.

GSEMA, which today serves 32,000 girls with 15,000 volunteers in 178 communities in eastern Massachusetts, identifies itself as "the preeminent leadership development organization for girls." It is tenth largest Girl Scout council in the United States.

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