As a young girl growing up in a small Midwestern town during the 1960s and 1970s, Rose Kenyon saw the impact lawyers had on leading the social changes of the time by fighting to protect peoples’ freedoms and liberty. She was deeply moved by stories about lawyers like Atticus Finch, portrayed in Harper Lee’s book, To Kill a Mockingbird, who had the courage to try to make a difference and found the themes of justice, fairness and the law aligned neatly with concepts she loved and admired as a Girl Scout. Rose knew right then that being a lawyer was a definite career path for her.
The Michigan Girl Scout who started out in a troop begun by her mother grew up to graduate from Notre Dame Law School and is today an employment law partner in the prestigious firm known as Smith Anderson.
In the meantime, she has been a Girl Scout since the age of nine, an adult volunteer, a Troop leader, Council board member and Council president – with plenty of time to raise three beautiful daughters – all of whom were Girl Scouts themselves.
Girl Scouting gave Rose the chance to find that she loved being outdoors. She loved camping and Girl Scouts gave her plenty of opportunity for that. She found she really enjoyed working on the service projects and learning about civic responsibility and the electoral process. Rose loved the camaraderie of Girl Scouting and she made many good friends. Even today, when she goes back home to visit family in Michigan she still calls one of her best friends who started out with her in Girl Scouting.
When Rose was a young adult just out of law school and working in Richmond, Virginia, she called up to volunteer with the local Girl Scout council. She wanted to give back and says working with the Richmond council helped build skills and confidence even as an adult.
Ten years later, she volunteered to lead her oldest daughter’s troop. She wanted the girls to have fun and learn how to be of service to their community. She wanted them to have the chance to learn about the outdoors, learn how to be a leader, and how to make a contribution – and, most important, how to be a kid while doing it. She also knew from her own experience as a girl in her mother’s troop, that she and her own daughter would deepen and grow their own relationship and that each would see the other in a new and different role – and that would be a good thing for both of them.
In addition to her work with Girl Scouting, Rose has volunteered with a number of organizations, including Habitat for Humanity – whose board she currently chairs. She also chaired the Bar Association’s Women in the Profession Committee, working with them to publish The Changing Face of Justice: A Look at the First 100 Women Attorneys in North Carolina. She recently chaired the Strategic Plan for the North Carolina Bar: Service 2015. The plan will serve as a guidepost for the state’s legal community as it moves forward issues of an independent judiciary, civic education, and legal representation for the poor.
As she looks back, Rose sees a lot of similarities between being a Girl Scout and being a lawyer. “We’re obligated to provide public service,” she says. “We’re engaged in the world and we strive to be good citizens of the world.
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