The Legends Campaign, a partnership between Reign FC and Avanade, honors women for their extraordinary contributions in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Prior to Reign FC’s September 29 match against Portland Thorns FC, Reign FC will recognize Girl Scouts of Western Washington CEO Megan Ferland as a Reign FC Legend.
After receiving her master’s degree in communications from the University of Texas at Austin, Ferland became a legislative aide in the capitol. She worked primarily with criminal justice legislation and the juvenile justice system, eventually becoming the legislative director for the vice-chair of the criminal justice committee.
Ferland became passionate about working on behalf of youth caught up in the criminal justice system, and accepted a position as the chief of the Texas attorney general’s Juvenile Crime Intervention Division. From there, she moved into non-profit work with CASA, a Texas organization that advocates on behalf of abused and neglected children in the court system.
After moving to Colorado, Ferland served as the CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign, a non-profit that uses research and policy to advocate for the needs of children. From there, she first joined the Girl Scouts as the CEO of Girl Scouts of Colorado, making the switch to serve as Girl Scouts of Western Washington in 2012.
Today, Ferland helps empower over 25,500 young women in 17 counties in western Washington. She helps direct programming that encourages female leadership, boosts engagement and aims to help them pursue interests like public service, the natural world and STEM fields.
Have sports meant anything particularly meaningful in your life?
I was a dancer. It’s still the same sort of team environment, with the same sort of endurance. The same sort of self-confidence. There’s a lot of the same lessons. How do you learn from setbacks? How do you challenge yourself? How do you set goals and then work toward them? There’s a lot of those same sorts of opportunities to grow as a person that come through in across the different sorts of programming that we do now in Girl Scouts.
What attracted you to work with the Girl Scouts?
That was kind of an interesting one. I was not a girl scout growing up. I always feel like I have to come clean about that. We had moved to Colorado when the heat and the bugs in Texas got to be too much for me. I had been running (the Colorado Children’s Campaign), I was approached about the CEO position for Girl Scouts of Colorado. I in my very haughty, non-Girl Scout way said ‘oh no, I need serious youth development work,’ and the executive search person who knew me said ‘really Megan, you need to look at this. Get off your high horse.’ I did, and she was right. The depth of the program that helps kids whether they’re on that fragile intersection all the way to girls like my daughter. The breadth of the programming from STEM to canoeing and outdoor programming to bully intervention. It was everything in one package.
What lessons from scouting do you think can best serve young women later in life?
I think the thing that’s really profound about Girl Scouts is that it gives girls an opportunity to explore whatever it is that they’re uniquely interested in. Because it’s an all-girl environment, they’re able to be free of the competition and self-consciousness that can come up if they’re in a co-ed environment. The outcomes are stunning. When we look at particular threads like participating in STEM activity, Girl Scouts are 60 percent more likely than non-Girl Scouts to want to take part. When you look at STEM activities as a bedrock activity to teach girls how to problem solve and employers in our community want more women in their jobs and they pay well, so if we can get more girls on a track to those kinds of careers, they’re going to be able to provide for themselves, provide for their families, which means that their grandkids are more likely to be taken care of, and then we’ve broken that generational cycle of poverty. It starts with putting more girls into those kinds of activities where they get interested in the path that leads them to that kind of sustainability.
What does being recognized as a Reign FC Legend mean to you?
The first thing that I thought was that Legend makes me feel old. The second is that it’s really the Girl Scouts and the volunteers who are the legends. They are the ones who do the legendary work.
What advice would you have for young women who want to pursue a dream in a field or occupation where they have been traditionally underrepresented?
Your voice matters. Every girl’s voice matters. Look to your sisters and gain strength and confidence in knowing how to use your voice.